What places are on your Australian vacation wish list?
The Great Barrier Reef, our iconic Sydney Opera House and surrounding harbor, the breathtaking outback, the beautiful beaches or the luscious rainforests. These places are wonderful to visit and offer endless photo opportunities. But when they get home and return to normal life, most travelers find their most memorable moments not in ‘seeing the sights’, but in experiencing the culture.
The Aboriginal arts and culture are a very unique and interesting component of the Australian identity and one that can be experienced without traveling to remote locations. You can experience the human element of Australia in intimate and authentic ways in every state and not far from where you will likely already want to visit. Save on your trip to Australia with our deals on customized Indigenous vacation packages.
Aboriginal Australia is as diverse as the continent’s landscape; not one nation but many nation states speaking more than 250 languages. Each stop will provide you with a new and unique perspective and ground your tour of the infamous sites to the people of the land. You can also experience the culture by adding a few Aboriginal managed tours to your itinerary. Here are a few of our favorite places to visit in Australia to get a big dose of historic culture.
Places to Visit in Australia – New South Wales
The Rocks (Sydney) – Take a 90- minute leisurely urban walkabout with an Aboriginal guide in The Rocks, the historic area of Sydney’s city center. Your Aboriginal guide with show you how the ancient wisdom of Dreamtime is continuously weaved into the modern city to create a unique Australian culture.
Royal Botanic Garden Sydney – The Royal Botanic Garden is a great place to learn how early Aboriginal inhabitants lived as hunters and gatherers. Intimately associated with the environment they made poisonous seeds edible, created fishing line from bark, wove leaves into mats and baskets, and much more in order to survive. During a one hour tour an Aboriginal Education Officer will help you explore the rich Aboriginal heritage of the garden and give you a first-hand perspective of the its significance.
Taronga Zoo (Near Sydney) – Just short drive from the harbor you’ll find the Taronga Zoo. An Aboriginal discovery tour offers a chance to enjoy interactive experiences with unique Australian wildlife and a chance to discover more about Australia’s rich culture. An Aboriginal guide will tell you stories of Australian wildlife, the binding relationships between flora and fauna, and the Dreaming (the creation of various creatures and landscapes). You’ll also get a great photo opportunity with a Koala and ride the Sky Safari cable to discover why Taronga is known as “The Zoo with a view”.
Places to Visit in Australia – Northern Territory
Uluru, Australia’s Red Centre (Ayers Rock) – Visiting the heart of Australia is about more than just seeing a giant red rock, it’s about experiencing the Outback; its majestic beauty, its heritage and its essence. As the traditional owners of Uluru Kata Tjuta and the surrounding land, who better to help you capture the moment than the Anangu? Unlike many of us the Anangu still possess a strong connection to the past and thousands of years of accumulated knowledge, wisdom and law. Their traditions are maintained and passed on through stories, rituals, ceremonies, songs, dances and art. There are many opportunities to experience their culture and learn more during your stay at Uluru. Here are a few Indigenous tours in Uluru. Your Vacation Planning Expert can help you select the best experiences for your trip.
Sounds of Silence Dinner– A unique award-winning gourmet desert dining experience complete with a didgeridoo welcome, a beautiful Outback sunset, Australian delicacies, and a tour of the stars.
Camel Ride to the Sounds of Silence Dinner site (or just around the Outback) – Camel tours of Uluru are always an amazing experience. Friendly local guides teach and tell stories about the flora and fauna, the land, the indigenous people, their own lives and the history of camels in Australia in a fun and enjoyable way. The photo opportunities are always amazing and the camels, with their own unique personalities and cheeky nature, may also provide a bit of entertainment.
Tali Wiru Dinner – Another unique desert dining experience with a taste of Aboriginal heritage. This tour fills up quickly as only 20 people are allowed per night. You are taken to a large dune, well away from anything else. A majestic view of Uluru is in the distance as a local plays the didgeridoo and canapes are served as the sun sets. You will enjoy a three course meal with matching Australian wines, desert with port, and an evening of star gazing and Aboriginal stories.
Desert Awakenings Tour – This tour is a great way to view the landscape and learn about its history and its people. Travelers often describe their experience as powerful and spiritual as they learn the history of the land, take in the rock paintings and learn about the local lore of the Anangu people.
Places to Visit in Australia – Queensland
World Heritage Listed Daintree National Park (Pick-ups at Cairns, Beaches and Port Douglas) – This intimate tour allows you to not only learn about the Aborginal culture of the rainforest but also experience it. It’s a day full of excitement, learning, and fun. Some highlights include a smoking ceremony, mud crab hunting, a visit to your guide’s home to cook your catch, a lesson in ingenious art, and a swim in The Mossman Gorge.
Mossman Gorge Centre (A quick car ride from Port Douglas) – The Mossman Gorge Centre is managed by Aboriginal natives, Kuku Yalanji, whose natural history makes them perfect guides to the oldest rainforest in the world. Your guide will provide an entertaining narrative of the unique tropical environment while demonstrating traditional plant use, identifying bush food sources, and sharing their special relationship to the land. The Mossman Gorge Centre is a wonderfully pleasant way to enjoy the rainforest as you walk along a broad walk, swim in pristine water and cross the mighty gorge on a suspension bridge.
Tjapukai Aboriginal Cultural Park (About 15 minutes from Cairns Airport) – Enjoy one of the most memorable dinner and shows in the world. This performance and tour truly takes you back in history and goes a long way to bring perspective to the culture’s 40,000 year history. The food is unexpected, abundant, tastefully prepared, and absolutely beautiful. There are plenty of opportunities for photos, fireside chats with the locals and a chance to take the stage and learn a traditional dance.
Places to Visit in Australia – Victoria
Bunjilaka Aboriginal Cultural Centre (Melbourne) – The word Bunjilaka is a word created from two local Aborginal languages and means “creation place”. It is a place where Victoria’s indigenous communities can express their own history within the Melbourne Museum. It’s also a place where you can understand the aboriginal history of belonging to the land on the Yarra River, populated by the Boonwurrung and Woiwurrung people before the first Europeans arrived.
Royal Botanic Gardens Melbourne – The award-winning walk through the Gardens is often described as one of the most interesting walks in the city. A local Aboriginal guide takes you on a journey through the traditional camping and meeting place the for Kulin nation. You’ll experience stories, culture, plant lore, tools and ceremony.
Places to Visit in Australia – Western Australia
Ngilgi Cave (About 40 minutes north of Margaret River) – Not many American tourists make it out to Western Australia. If you do, it’s well worth your time to visit Wardandi and Bibbulman Country. You can experience this great landscape and the caves through the eyes of the traditional owners. Take a 3-hour private tour which includes a bush walk, a trip into the Ngilgi Cave where your Aboriginal guide will play the didgeridoo, and a live demonstration of spears and boomerangs. All of this will leave you with authentic insight into the indigenous way of life in historic Western Australia.
Australia’s landscape varies from sandy beaches to rocky cliffs, from the desert outback to tropical rainforests and within each landscape is a unique historic culture, whose Dreamtime stories are as varied as the country they inhabit. A trip to Australia isn’t complete without experiencing at least a few of these ancient and mysterious cultures.