Through Australia’s many inspiring Indigenous experiences, you can delve into a precious ancient culture and learn about the first people to call this great country their home.
Mutawintji means ‘place of green grass and waterholes’ and to Indigenous Australians, it is considered to be the sacred heart of the ancient Byngnano Ranges. It’s no wonder that this stunning part of Outback NSW, with its striking red earth and rugged gorges, caverns, rock pools and meandering creeks lined with red river gums was a popular meeting place for Indigenous Australians. The quintessentially Australian landscape is smothered in plants, shrubs, bushes and trees laden with bush tucker, and the artwork that the many tribes passing through created — rock engravings, cave paintings, awe-inspiring hand stencilling — is like a library documenting over 8000 years of Aboriginal occupation. Mutawintji National Park is about 130km out of Broken Hill, and Tristate Safaris take small groups on educative (and entertaining) walking tours that begin with an audio-visual presentation created by the Indigenous custodians, that explains some of the dreamtime creation stories of Mutawintji.
Fans of interactive foodie experiences, safaris and glamping can enjoy a melding of all three pastimes while based in a private luxury lodge on the Mary River Floodplain in a secluded part of the Top End, near Kakadu. Bamarru Plains is a magical place where wild buffalo now roam en masse, and a land that Aboriginal Australians called home over 40,000 years ago. Wild Bush Luxury and top Aussie chef James Viles have teamed up deliver an immersive food experience, where meals are based on the seasonal bush tucker. It’s also a dream bird watching destination — magpie geese, wild kites, honey eaters, Forest Kingfishers, Mistletoebird, Blue Winged Kookaburra and the stunning Rainbow Bee-Eater all call it home. Spot crocodiles, dine on yabbies and mudcrab and head out foraging with the chef to gather exotic ingredients and learn about how Indigenous Australians once lived and used the endless produce. The scenic air transfers from Darwin add another dimension to this safari experience, as guests can see the Top End from the air — it’s nothing short of breathtaking.
3. The Warlu Way, Western Australia
For adventurers and roadtrippers
The Warlu Way traces the spellbinding path of the mystical Warlu sea serpent, setting road-trippers on a 2,480-kilometre journey to discover Indigenous Dreamtime legends in a world where the stunning coastlines and iconic Outback landscapes (think Red Dog) are a photographer’s dream. A Warlu self-drive adventure kicks off in Exmouth (a two-and-a-half hour flight, or two-day drive from Perth) and along the way, adventurers can become one with nature — swimming with whale sharks, turtles and manta rays on Ningaloo Reef, fishing, snorkelling the many other awe-inspiring bays and reefs, or exploring the pristine Mackerel Islands. The Indigenous offerings are never-ending: trek through the gorges and chasms of Karijini National Park where Aboriginal people once hunted and gathered, take a cruise around the stunning islands of the Dampier Archipelago, and be astounded by the outdoor art gallery of Burrup Peninsula, which is a unique ecological, spiritual and archaeological area, thought to contain the world’s oldest, largest and most important collections of petroglyphs and ancient rock carvings, dating back 40,000 years.
4. Laura Aboriginal Dance Festival, Queensland
For lovers of culture and performance
Every two years, the tiny town of Laura on the Cape York Peninsula draws Indigenous performers and artists from every corner of the Cape to celebrate their ancient culture through dance and song. It is one of the most riveting festivals in Australia, with a different dance troupe taking to the ‘stage’ (a dirt floored clearing in the middle of the wild Australian bush) — every half an hour. The wildly beautiful handmade traditional costumes, the fascinating array of body and face paintings, and the many stands set up to educate and entertain visitors during this three day extravaganza, all come together to form an unforgettable Indigenous experience that offers insight into a culture that so many of the attendees are passionately fighting to preserve.
5. Tickle Belly Hill: Yullu Wirru Cultural Experience, South Australia
For lovers of the great outdoors
Delve into Dreamtime legends and learn about the Adnyamathanha peoples of the Flinders Ranges at the Tickle Belly Hill function venue, which sits before the dramatic, ancient Pichi Richi Pass. Blending into the beautiful landscape, the venue has been designed to resemble at Outback woolshed — it’s pillar-less open-plan space, paved terraces and surrounding fields making it an ideal place to get back to nature and appreciate the grand scale of the Flinders Ranges.
The Yullu Wirru (meaning Kingfishers’ Wing) Cultural Experience held here has guests joining Adnyamathanha Elders as they celebrate their culture through storytelling, song and dance. The experience also includes a three-course delicious, gourmet bush food style dinner, tea and coffee, and return coach transfers from Port Augusta.