The rich and unique culture of Australia’s Aboriginal people stretches back at least 50,000 years – making it the world’s oldest living culture. Across coastal, urban and outback WA, more than 120 Aboriginal tourism operators proudly share their fascinating stories, distinctive cultures and traditional lands with visitors through a variety of authentic experiences. Here’s a snapshot of some of the options:
• Bingi through a Porthole (Broome, Kimberley). A unique way to discover Chinatown is on a newly launched discovery tour with local Indigenous man and owner/operator of Uptuyu Aboriginal Adventures Neville Poelina. The walking tour covers Neville’s personal pearling tales and experience growing up on the bustling streets of Chinatown. The experience can be booked at visitbroome.com.au.
• Brian Lee: Hunter’s Creek Tagalong Tours (Cape Leveque, Kimberley). The beautiful and remote Dampier Peninsula was once a camping ground for the Bardi (Saltwater) People of this region. Tagalong with Brian Lee to explore the history, seasonal bush fruit, traditional fishing techniques and stories of this timeless landscape, which is a wildlife haven for turtles, sea birds and whales. brianleetagalong.com.au
• Bungoolee Tours (Fitzroy Crossing, Kimberley). Bunuba Elder Dillon Andrews traces the footsteps of powerful freedom fighter Jandamarra, a legendary hero who defended Bunuba country against overwhelming odds. Take a two-hour walking tour through Jandamarra’s hideout in WA’s oldest cave system at Tunnel Creek, hear Dreamtime stories of how the land was created and see ancient rock art that brings the stories to life. bungoolee.com.au
• Go Cultural Tours & Experiences (Perth). The Perth-based company recently introduced two new cultural tours, in addition to its Elizabeth Quay experience. Visitors to Rottnest Island – known as Wadjemup to the local Nyoongar people - can now experience traditional Aboriginal culture on a new 90-minute walking tour. The tour offers visitors the opportunity to learn about Rottnest’s history and the spiritual significance to the Nyoongar people, and includes a Welcome to Country, traditional sand ceremony, and song and storytelling with an Aboriginal guide. In Perth’s iconic Kings Park and Botanic Garden – known as Kaarta Koomba to the local Nyoongar people – guests can now learn about Kaarta Gar-up, the traditional name for the Mount Eliza escarpment in Kings Park, and its intriguing past and spiritual significance to the Aboriginal people on Go Cultural’s new Kings Park Tour. gocultural.com.au
• Kodja Place (Kojonup, Great Southern). Explore this pretty pastoral district’s Nyoongar history through the Kodja Place’s displays or join local Elder Jack Cox for billy tea, damper and yarns. Jack will show you special features of the centre including a Nyoongar kodj axe, a tammar-skin rug, a Nyoongar-Maori wedding cape and a newcomer’s bushfire experience. kojonupaboriginal.com.au
• Kooljaman and Cape Leveque (Kimberley, North West). A remote wilderness camp owned and run by the Indigenous Bardi Jawi communities, situated on Native Title land at the tip of the Dampier Peninsula. Kooljaman offers a range of accommodation options from deluxe safari tents and ensuited cabins, to camp sites and beach shelters. Base yourself here and enjoy the array of activities and tours on offer, or just relax and take in the surrounding area’s spectacular coastline, amazing wildlife and cultural experiences. kooljaman.com.au
• Koomal Dreaming and Cape Cultural Tours (Margaret River, South West). The Margaret River region’s big drawcards – beaches, caves and dining – come together on tours led by local Wadandi man, Josh Whiteland. With Koomal Dreaming you’ll journey into Ngilgi Cave for ancient stories and unique didgeridoo acoustics, and forage for and taste native foods and medicines. The menu could include kangaroo, emu, quandong, emu plum and salt bush. Josh’s new sister business, Cape Cultural Tours, helps you see the region’s spectacular coastline through the eyes of the Traditional Owners. koomaldreaming.com.au, capeculturaltours.com.au
• Luridgii Eco Cultural Tours (East Kimberley). Kununurra-based tour leader Ted Hall oversees four-wheel-drive tag-along tours, outback camping and cultural awareness programs in Miriuwung country. In 2017, the Luridgii team added a Jaliwang Diamond Mine Tour through a rugged landscape steeped in traditions and Jaliwang (barramundi) Dreaming to reach the Argyle Diamond Mine, where you can see the precious gemstones – including the rare pink diamond – and the operations involved in their extraction.
• Mimbi Caves (near Fitzroy Crossing, Kimberley). One of Australia’s best-kept secrets, this vast subterranean labyrinth is part of a 350-millionyear-old Devonian reef system, which houses a significant collection of Aboriginal rock art and some of the most impressive fish fossils in the southern hemisphere. The Mimbi area is a place of strong spiritual significance for the traditional owners, the Gooniyandi people. Spectacular limestone formations, brilliant colours and crystal clear freshwater pools set the scene for a guided tour laced with Dreamtime stories and bush tucker. mimbicaves.com.au
• Narlijia Experiences (Broome, Kimberley). Engaging tours by Broome born-and-bred Yawuru man Bart Pigram offer an Aboriginal and multicultural perspective of the pearling town and its fascinating history. You’ll learn about saltwater people, the seasons, the land and the food that sustained this ancient coastal culture for thousands of years. Scour for oysters and other tasty morsels in Broome’s mangroves, where you can spot mudskippers, mud crabs and a variety of birds at low tide.
• Ngalang Wongi Aboriginal Cultural Tours (Bunbury, South West). Bunbury’s original inhabitants, the Nyoongar people, hunted and fished throughout the Koombana Bay area for thousands of years. Artist and didgeridoo player Troy Bennell weaves his cultural knowledge into an array of Dreamtime stories and whimsical yarns about traditional and contemporary Aboriginal life, sacred sites, the Nyoongar six seasons and Dolphin Dreaming, linking to Koombana Bay’s population of wild bottlenose dolphins.
• Ngurrangga Tours (Burrup Peninsula, Pilbara). This unique archaeological area houses the world’s largest collection of ancient Aboriginal rock carvings, with more than one million petroglyphs dating back as far as the last ice age. Tour this amazing outdoor art gallery and surrounding coastal landscape with Clinton Walker, a descendant of the local Ngarluma and Yindjibarndi people, who has spent his entire life learning about his ancestors and culture.
• Uptuyu Aboriginal Adventures (Kimberley). Design your own tour with expert guides whose ancestors have known the breathtaking Kimberley for thousands of years. Whether it’s flying, driving, cruising or staying at the tranquil Oongkalkada Wilderness Camp between Broome and Derby, Uptuyu specialises in tailormade itineraries that go beyond the views to reveal the local Aboriginal people’s fascinating culture, ancient rock art and bush tucker.
• Warrang-Bridil (Perth). This new walking tour reflects Warrang-Bridil’s vision to ‘close the gap’ on knowledge and understanding of Nyoongar people’s heritage, as they share their culture with visitors. The 60-minute ‘on country’ tour with a Nyoongar guide explores the shores of the spectacular Derbal Yerrigan (Swan River) overlooking Perth city, Matagarup Bridge and the Optus Stadium precinct. It also features in-depth insights into pre-colonisation of the Nyoongar nation and the importance of culture, language, values, relationships, responsibilities and social structures. warrang-bridil.com.au
• Wula Gura Nyinda Eco Adventures (Shark Bay World Heritage Region). Francois Peron National Park is a picturesque peninsula of acacia-cloaked red dunes and shrub surrounded by turquoise water. Teeming with marine life such as dolphins and rays, the tranquil lagoons are perfect for kayaking and snorkelling. Join award-winning guide Darren ‘Capes’ Capewell for an inside view of the deep spiritual connection between the local Nhanda and Malgana Aboriginal people and this breathtaking saltwater paradise. wulagura.com.au
• Maalinup Aboriginal Gallery (Swan Valley, Perth) is just 35 minutes from the Perth CBD, in the Swan Valley wine region. Maalinup Aboriginal Gallery is unique to Perth as an Aboriginal owned and operated enterprise offering Aboriginal cultural activities, talks, performances and bush tucker, as well as a gallery full of local Aboriginal art, exquisitely different hand painted gifts and high quality Australian made souvenirs. Drop in and sample sauces, jams, chutneys, oils and dukkahs from the bushtucker range or treat yourself to a handmade soap or book.