Juan Walker founded Walkabout Cultural Adventures in Kuku Yalanji country in Queensland’s Port Douglas-Daintree region in 2008. Guests on his tours explore the UNESCO World Heritage-listed Daintree rainforest, learn the cultural connection his people have with the land, and enjoy experiences such as throwing spears and boomerangs and hunting for mud crabs and other seasonal bush tucker in the tidal flats and mangroves. When he’s not working, he loves sharing his passion for Indigenous history and traditions to his four children, Mili, 11, Juakene 9, Che, 6 and four-year-old Teja.
Hi Juan Walker says what is your ideal family holiday?
My ideal family holiday is anywhere that my family can be exposed to another culture. We went to Japan last year and that’s a different culture altogether; different food, different language, different lifestyle. We ate sushi, ramen, sashimi, went skiing, stayed in a ryokan and went to a couple of onsens. I have a couple of tattoos and I had to cover them. Before that we went to Fiji and visited a village there. The kids were away from their technology and devices; there was no electricity and it was so good exposing our family to a different way of life. My daughter learned how to catch a chicken and sat with the local ladies and learned how to pluck them and cook them, and joined them in doing the washing by hand. My sons were young and basically found things in nature to play with as their toys. It was a really good experience for them.
What is yout fondest family holiday memory?
My fondest family holiday memory is camping and being together. I loved being in the bush and running around with my cousins when I was a kid. We went to places like Snapper Island and Shipwreck Bay in North Queensland. There are too many people there now, so we go inland to places like Palmer River and teach the kids about stories around that way, and the Roaring Meg Falls, which is a creation place.
Juan, what are your best tips for family travellers exploring Australia?
Family travellers may not be aware how many different Aboriginal groups there are in Australia and how diverse they are. Each place has a different language, customs and stories. Didgeridoos come from the Outback, for example. The rainforest mob didn’t really make them down on the coast. There are more than 30 different types and styles of boomerang. They are made from different timber, and are designed to catch different animals. And they don’t all come back.
Juan, what is the best tip that we can get from an experienced Aboriginal guide like you?
Every family should experience the indigenous culture. The first peoples have so much to share. Sharing culture with my kids and others is so important. It preserves our culture and passes it on to the next generations, and gives them an understanding of the land on which they live. I think it is paramount as it instils respect for the land, and this is key to sustainability.
What is your main tip for families travelling with kids?
My top tip for travelling with kids is planning ahead, and patience.