Aboriginal Australians are custodians of the world’s most ancient living culture. It’s expressed through art, story telling, dance, music and the land itself. In Aboriginal culture, ’dreaming’ often refers to an individual’s or a group’s set of beliefs. Dreamtime is a concept that provides a spiritual understanding of the birth of our land and comes from a culture that dates back more than 50,000 years. Many Dreamtime stories and spirits, painted, sculpted and etched over thousands of years are open for viewing in vast, open-air rock art galleries throughout Australia.
But Aboriginal culture is not exclusively a thing of the past. It’s here and now, living and vibrant, as are Australia’s Aborigines. Embrace and enjoy it almost anywhere in Australia. Take in collections of Aboriginal art at museums and galleries; watch contemporary Aboriginal dance; hear the distinctive deep throb of the didgeridoo amongst the strains of a rock band; or head to the outback to truly embrace this culture, staying in an Aboriginal camp and joining guides and elders to search for birds, track animals, and to learn the spiritual heritage of the land.
Let Aboriginal Australians help you understand this ancient land and its spirituality and wonder. Following are seven special places you can connect to Aboriginal Australia:
- Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park, Northern Territory
Visit Uluru and you’ll see why the rock and surrounding land have such huge spiritual significance for the Anangu Aboriginal people. According to their creation myths, ancestral spirits formed Uluru, which lies in Australia’s red centre like an enormous, moody heart. Aboriginal guides will share these ancient tales as you walk around the rock’s base. Just 32 kilometers away is another sacred site - Kata Tjuta. You’ll be awestruck by these steep, rounded, russet domes spanning over 3,500 hectares.
- Kimberley, Western Australia
Featuring vast horizons and ancient gorges, the Kimberley region is one of the world’s last great wilderness areas. See Wandjina figures painted in caves and the mysterious Gwion Gwion paintings. Ride a camel on Broome’s breathtaking Cable Beach and 4WD the red-dirt road along the Dampier Peninsula. Learn the legend of the orange and black beehive domes of the Bungle Bungles or fly over vast Lake Argyle in Kununurra.
- The Daintree, Queensland
More than 135 million years old, Daintree Rainforest is the oldest in the world. Explore this canopy of green with its traditional owners, the Wujal Wujal people. Learn about bush tucker and fish for barramundi. See freshwater crocodiles sunning themselves on mangrove-lined riverbanks and glimpse tropical birds and animals, many of which are not found anywhere else on earth.
- Coorong, South Australia
Become one with nature as you kayak along the lagoons and waterways of the Coorong. Your Ngarrindjeri guide will point out traditional medicines and the incredible local birdlife. As night falls, listen to stories unfold amid the mouth-watering aroma of fresh damper (outback bread) as it is pulled from the embers of a campfire.
- Gippsland, Victoria
Discover a rich Aboriginal history along Gippsland’s rugged coastline. Wander the fern gullies, sandy beaches and eucalyptus forests of the sacred land now known as Wilsons Promontory National Park. Trace Aboriginal trading routes up to 18,000 years old and watch local Aboriginal people make baskets, spears, shields and canoes in the traditional way at Bairnsdale. Or learn where the Dreamtime touched the rugged gorges, rainforest and gullies of Woolshed Creek.
- Sydney cultural tours, New South Wales
Get a glimpse of the lives of Sydney’s original inhabitants on a harbor cruise or walking tour. You can learn the Aboriginal names and meanings of significant Sydney landmarks as you cruise the harbor with Aboriginal guides. Visit rock-carvings and old Aboriginal settlements and stop off for a traditional Aboriginal welcome on Clark Island. Off the boat, you can taste bush food and learn about Aboriginal use of plants on a walking tour through Sydney’s lush harborside Botanical Gardens.
- Bangarra Dance Company, Nation-wide
You can’t miss a performance by one of Australia’s oldest, youngest and most innovative dance companies. Bangarra blends a living tradition stretching back 50,000 years with contemporary dance influences from across the world. See this truly Australian dance language in its home theatre in Sydney or on stages across the nation.