“Visit the Set” of Indigenous Culture and Landscapes on a Trip to Australia

People & Culture

Daintree National Park scenery, Queensland, Australia

Australia is a land of abundant wonders. As the recent Dundee campaign starring Danny McBride and the Hemsworth Brothers proved, it has an enviable natural landscape. It’s home to the icons of the Red Centre like Uluru/Ayers Rock and Kata Tjuta/The Olgas, the incomparable majesty of the Great Barrier Reef, and the world-class cities of Sydney and Melbourne. It also has some of the oldest human communities on the planet. If you “Visit the Set” behind the Dundee campaign, while on your trip to Australia, you have the chance to get in touch with the Indigenous communities that have lived in the country for over 20,000 years and experience this wondrous world through the eyes of the land’s traditional custodians.

Travel Back in Time in the Middle of Sydney

You don’t have to leave the cities to get in touch with Indigenous Australia. In Sydney, you can join a 100-percent Indigenous-owned walking tour to learn about Indigenous traditions in the heart of the city. During your time in Sydney on your trip to Australia, you’ll head through the Rocks neighbourhood on a leisurely walking tour and share the knowledge of Dunghutti-Jerrinjah elder, Margaret Campbell, to experience how the legendary Dreamtime is still alive in the modern city. You’ll see historical buildings and learn how a million years of the harbour’s natural history have defined the lives of Indigenous peoples over the generations.

Suggested Itinerary:
13-Day Aussie Islands and Sydney Escape

Rocks District in Sydney, Australia
Learn the mystery and history of The Rocks in Sydney

Go on Walkabout in the Rainforest

The Far North of Queensland, between Port Douglas in the south and Cooktown in the north, is home to the Kuku Yalanji, the “rainforest people” who have lived in the area for at least 50,000 years. You can meet these Indigenous custodians of the Daintree Rainforest at the Mossman Gorge Aboriginal Community Centre and learn about their culture on a series of eco-tours and nature excursions. A great way to get in touch with the culture of the Kuku Yalanji is on a rainforest walkabout, where you join Indigenous guides from the area on a full-day excursion through the Daintree Rainforest. You’ll follow bush tracks, spot plants that have been used by the Indigenous peoples for thousands of years, and learn about legends of the Dreamtime. You’ll also stop by ancient cave painting sites and even have the chance to cruise along the Daintree River to see birds, tree snakes, and estuarine crocodiles.

Suggested Full-Day Tour:
Cairns: Daintree Walkabout Full Day Tour

Mossman River at Daintree National Park, Queensland, Australia
Mossman River at Daintree National Park, Queensland

Dreamtime Safari in the Top End

The Top End of the Northern Territory and Kakadu National Park is one of the epicentres of Indigenous culture in Australia. It is home to dozens of ancient rock art sites, Indigenous communities, and sacred natural icons. On a trip to Australia, you can explore these sites as part of a larger exploration of the country. While in the Northern Territory, you’ll take a few days to head on a Dragonfly Dreaming Safari through the park and Arnhem Land to experience stories of the Dreamtime come to life in the company of Indigenous guides. Over the course of a few days, you’ll visit the Warradjan Cultural Centre to see displays on 40,000 years of Indigenous life in the park, visit cave paintings and rock art sites, head on a cruise along the Yellow Waters Billabong, and summit Nadab Lookout for incredible views of Kakadu and the rugged landscape of the Australian bush.

Suggested Itinerary:
14-Day Aussie City and Top End Escape

Yellow Waters Billabong landscape, Kakadu National Park, Northern Territory, Australia
Yellow Waters Billabong landscape, Kakadu National Park, Northern Territory

Rock Art and Gorges in Nitmiluk

The Indigenous heritage of the Northern Territory doesn’t end at the southern border of Kakadu National Park. Immediately to the south of Kakadu, you’ll find Nitmiluk National Park, another of the territory’s Outback parks that is best known for mighty Katherine Gorge, which attracts travellers wanting to cruise its waterways and see the waterfalls that define its ravines. On a tour of Katherine Gorge and Nitmiluk National Park, you’ll explore the natural landscapes and visit rock art sites that bear witness to the Indigenous peoples who have lived in the area for thousands of years. You’ll swim in the waterhole beneath Edith Falls, cruise up to Katherine Gorge, and get a taste for the unforgettable landscape.

Suggested Full-Day Tour:
Darwin: Katherine Gorge & Edith Falls Full Day Tour

People swimming in the waterhole at Edith Falls, on the Edith River in Nitmiluk National Park, Australia
People swimming in the waterhole at Edith Falls, on the Edith River in Nitmiluk National Park, Northern Territory

See the Illuminated Desert in Alice Springs

Every year in Alice Springs/Mparntwe, the Parrtjima Festival takes place, which brings to life the Outback town with all manner of light installations by Indigenous artists. This annual festival showcases the traditional home of the Antulye and Irlpme peoples and encapsulates the root definitions of the word “Parrtjima,” which is drawn from words meaning “to shine” and “to have trouble understanding something.” If you visit Alice Springs on your Australia vacation between April 5, 2019 and April 14, 2019, you’ll catch the annual festival, see brilliant light installations illuminating the MacDonnell Ranges, and discover a whole new way of seeing this iconic Outback town and the surrounding landscape.

West Macdonnell Ranges in the Outback, Australia
West Macdonnell Ranges in the Outback

Visit Remote Indigenous Communities in the Kimberley

The Kimberley, between Broome and Kununurra in Western Australia, is home to remote Indigenous communities that have taken care of this immense stretch of land for thousands of years. It may take a bit longer to get to the Kimberley than to Sydney or the country’s west coast, but this remote destination deserves attention, especially if you want to get in touch with Indigenous communities living far from the major centres of the country. On a 4WD adventure through the Dampier Peninsula, you’ll visit several Indigenous communities, meet with local members who will share some of their culture and traditions with you, and experience a breathtaking sampling of Western’s Australia’s rugged Outback. You’ll have tea at the Beagle Bay Aboriginal Community, see the incredible aquaculture hatchery of the One Arm Point Community at Buccaneer Archipelago, and admire the bush timber church and sunset over the Dampier Peninsula at the Lombadina Community.

Suggested Full-Day Tour:
Broome: Cape Leveque 4WD Adventure

Cape Leveque, Dampier Peninsula, Western Australia
Cape Leveque, Dampier Peninsula, Western Australia

These excursions to far-flung destinations across the country offer you a chance to get in touch with Australia’s Indigenous cultures and experience some of the country’s natural icons in unique ways. There are many great ways to “Visit the Set” on a trip to Australia, but a deep-dive into its Indigenous traditions and experiences promises a cultural experience you’ll never forget.

Related Article:
Fascinating Indigenous Sites to Explore on Australia Tours

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