Help your kids get a greater understanding of Aboriginal culture with one of these awesome activities. By Angela Saurine
Try throwing a spear at a fake kangaroo target and learn how to light a fire by rubbing two sticks together at the Top Didj Cultural Experience at Katherine in the Northern Territory. Aboriginal artist Manuel Pamkal plays a traditional welcoming tune on the didgeridoo before sharing stories about growing up in the bush, living off the land, tribal life and his family tree. He also teaches the technique of Rarrk painting (cross hatch), with guests able to join in and take home a souvenir. As a bonus there’s always wallaby joeys hopping around! The two-hour experience happens twice a day.
Sit with Anangu Indigenous artists and learn about the different symbols depicting Creation Time (Tjukurpa) stories before creating your own dot painting. The Maruku Arts Dot Painting Workshops are held every morning and afternoon near the Town Square Lawn Area at Ayers Rock Resort. After the class, check out the Indigenous Art Markets to see local artists at work and perhaps buy an authentic piece of art or craft to take home. Other free cultural activities at the resort include didgeridoo workshops, a native food experience, and bush yarns learning about weapons used for hunting and gathering bush tucker.
Paddle along a creek with the descendants of the world’s first stand-up paddle boarders with Wajaana Yaam Gumbaynggirr Adventure Tours at Coffs Harbour on the NSW North Coast. Don’t worry if you’ve never tried SUP before – no experience is necessary. The 2.5-hour tour begins with a brief demonstration. Guests will hear stories about the area from an Indigenous guide, learn about the local language and collect and try bush tucker. The tours are held at three locations depending on guest requirements and the tides, including Coffs Creek, Red Rock and Moonee, with the latter also offering kids the chance to backflip off a rope swing into the water.
This cultural park offers loads of fantastic Indigenous experiences all in the one place. You can see a traditional corroboree performance, try throwing a boomerang or spear and learn to make jewellery from materials found in the rainforest. You can also hear a traditional warrior explains how tools and weapons were used by Aborigines for hunting and survival in the cultural village, paint a boomerang in traditional Aboriginal style, and taste food cooked in a Bayngga underground oven. In the evening, the Nightfire experience provides the opportunity to meet the Indigenous rainforest people, Bama, who paint your face to link you to their traditional land. It also includes a corroboree and ceremonial fire.
Colourful Indigenous guide Brian Lee teaches kids how to spear fish, hunt for mud crabs and use shells as a whistle as they stroll along the banks of Hunters Creek at Cape Leveque in Western Australia’s Kimberley region. As well as learning the traditional ways of the Bardi people, guests on his tours, based out of the remote Kooljaman wilderness camp, will also hear stories of white settlement on the Dampier Peninsula before gathering under the shade of a tree to cook up their catch on an open fire.
See a yidaki (didgeridoo) being played or a performance by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander dancers and hear their stories at Australia’s oldest Aboriginal-owned and managed multi-arts centre. Tandanya is a Kaurna word for ‘place of the Red Kangaroo’. The galleries play host to at least 12 exhibitions a year.
Go mud crabbing and gather food from the mangroves with brothers Linc and Brandon Walker at Cooya Beach, around 15 minutes’ drive north of Port Douglas, during this authentic tour. They will also teach you how to spear fish and share stories from their traditional land before returning to their family’s home to showcase Kuku Yalanji artefacts as they prepare the morning’s catch.
Spend the weekend visiting sacred and significant sites in the area around Narooma on the NSW South Coast with Indigenous guide Dwayne ‘Naja’ Bannon-Harrison to learn more about the Yuin people’s creation stories, history and culture. The immersive tour also includes the rare opportunity to take part in traditional Aboriginal sunrise and beach ceremonies and yarning circles.
If you’re keen to see Aboriginal rock art, the Canberra region has some easily accessible options. Dharwara Cultural Tours takes you to sites of cultural significance, including places where you can see grinding grooves, a canoe tree and a shield tree. Experiences range from two-hour tours to full day tours which include a swim at Flea Creek in Namadgi National Park. They also offer the chance to learn how to speak the Ngunawal language, take part in a traditional weaving workshop or join a bush tucker cooking class. Some tours are only suitable for children 12 and older.
Aboriginal people have been caring for Maria Island (Wukaluwikiwayna) for more than 50,000 years, adapting to changes in the landscape. Now on select dates throughout the year families can join Indigenous guides for a cultural tour on the island, on Tasmania’s east coast, to hear the stories of the Tyreddeme people. The one-hour tour starts at the Commissariat Store, which is located between Darlington Jetty and Darlington. Tickets are available to buy on the ferry or at the Triabunna Visitor Information Centre.
Learn about traditional plant uses and Kuku Yalanji culture during a guided walk through Mossman Gorge in the UNESCO World Heritage-listed Daintree National Park. The 1.5-hour tour begins with a traditional smoking ceremony that cleanses and wards off bad spirits. The walk then meanders through rainforest and takes in traditional huts or humpies. An Indigenous guide demonstrates traditional plant use, identifies bush food sources and provides an enchanting narrative of the rainforest and their special relationship with it. Also learn how to make bush soap and find out about ochre painting before enjoying traditional bush tea and damper.
Experience everything from didgeridoo workshops to boomerang painting and throwing and bush food tasting at this cultural centre. You can also see two award-winning presentations in its Gariwerd Dreaming theatre. The Gariwerd Creation Story depicts the Aboriginal legend of Tchingal the giant emu and Waa the crow and the formation of the Grampians/Gariwerd mountains, while Gariwerd a Cultural Landscape illustrates the geology, flora and fauna and Aboriginal and European history of the region.
If you find yourself on Western Australia’s South-West coast, don’t miss a tour with Indigenous guide George Walley from Mandurah Dreaming. The experienced educator, who grew up living with extended family in bush shelters, leads guests on the Mandjoogoordap Dreaming Tour along the foreshore as he shares his stories. The tour starts and finishes at the Mandurah Performing Arts Centre and operates Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays on demand. Other tours, including canoe tours and cruises, are also available.