A sparkling lagoon, a soaring red gum tree, or constellations of stars in the night sky are some of the sacred places of Aboriginal culture in Australia. You can’t truly know Australia unless you have encountered such spiritual sites and reflected on the ancestor spirits that remain within them. Luckily, there are many options for visitors who want to learn about the rich culture and history of Australia’s Indigenous people.
While Northern Australia (including the Northern Territory and Queensland) is well known for hosting Aboriginal touring experiences, the southern states of Australia also offer many accessible touring options for your Australia vacation. Here are five amazing touring experiences that you can explore near Australia’s largest cities.
The Rocks Dreaming Aboriginal Heritage Tour
The Rocks Dreaming Aboriginal Heritage Tour in Sydney offers an interactive experience to visitors. Starting at Cadman’s Cottage, the oldest surviving residential building in the city, the 90-minute tour takes you to several points of interest in downtown Sydney including the Argyle Cut and Dawes Point, and explores significant Aboriginal sites and wisdom along the way. By the end of the tour, you will have started exploring the richness of Dreamtime culture and stories within the landscape of downtown Sydney. This tour has received a TripAdvisor Certificate of Excellence for its consistently great reviews.
The company that offers the tour, Dreamtime Southern X, is privately owned by Aboriginal people, and since its inception has advocated for and provided training, employment, and economic development opportunities to Aboriginal people.
Wominjeka – Welcome Tour
In Melbourne, the Wominjeka – Welcome tour begins with a visit to the ancestral Aboriginal lands at the Royal Botanical Gardens. Here you can learn about the culture of the Kulin Nation, an alliance of five Indigenous Australian tribes. This walk offers visitors a chance to experience a traditional smoking ceremony with an Indigenous guide, and discover traditional uses of plants for food, tools, and medicine.
Another stop to make is at the Bunjilaka Aboriginal Cultural Centre at Melbourne Museum. At the Centre, you’ll find a collection of Aboriginal cultural heritage items that is one of the most significant in the world. You’ll also want to explore the Milarri Garden Trail, a plant garden where you can learn about the plants and waterways significant to Aboriginal people of south-eastern Australia.
Brambuk: the National Park & Cultural Centre is located just a 3-hour drive northwest of Melbourne at Halls Gap. This 100% Aboriginal owned and operated centre aims to preserve and promote the Indigenous culture of the Gariwerd (Grampians) region. The remarkable building was inspired by the shape of a cockatoo in flight, the totem animal of the Djab Wurrung, and the Jardwadjali people. Eels, whales, trees, and items of cultural and practical importance to the community are reflected in other architectural elements.
While at Brambuk, you can paint a boomerang, learn about the creation story in the Gariwerd Dreaming Theatre, or participate in a Bushfoods Discovery Walk. The centre also provides visitor information for those hiking in Grampians National Park, and those wanting to explore the many Aboriginal rock art sites within the park.
Tower Hill Wildlife Reserve
At the Tower Hill Wildlife Reserve, found on the southwest coast of Victoria, you can learn about sacred sites at your own pace. Located on the site of an extinct volcanic crater, Tower Hill is a major natural landmark, and home to a wide variety of wildlife including koalas, emus, kangaroos, echidnas, possums, and a large variety of birds. The park’s self-guided walks are popular and intriguing, with themes such as “Whurrong Walk”, exploring Aboriginal foods, and “Lava Tongue Boardwalk” exploring the wetlands of the Reserve.
Check out Worn Gundidj Visitor Centre to learn more about Aboriginal cultural heritage of the area. Aboriginal people lived in the area for many thousands of years, and artifacts such as axe heads have been discovered in the area.
5-Day Shipwreck Coast Explorer – Self-Drive
Red Banks Conservation Park
170 kilometres northwest of Adelaide, you’ll find Red Banks Conservation Park. The state park is one of paleontologists’ most noted megafauna sites in Australia, having once been home to a species of giant marsupial called Diprotodons, and a giant emu called Genyornis. Other fossilized remains found on site include those of the Tasmanian tiger.
The rugged red earth gorges make for spectacular landscape viewing, and the area is rich in Aboriginal heritage. At the park you can take the Landscapes of Change interpretive walking trail to learn more about the fascinating history of this area.
11-Day Melbourne to Adelaide Indigenous Experience