There’s something magical – perhaps even reverential – about arriving in Tropical North Queensland. Maybe it’s because it’s home to the world’s oldest rainforest with towering trees and curious animals quietly scurrying beneath the heavy canopy. Or perhaps it’s because the local Indigenous people have lived on the land continuously for 40,000 years and help you see life in a different way. Whatever it is, the region is so much more than a colourful reef and a feel-good tropical escape.
Here, the land is seeped in storytelling, fascinating art and eye-opening cultural experiences waiting to be told. Here are our five must-do indigenous experiences!
“If nobody explains it to you, why it’s pretty, you’ve been just a tourist” – Willie Gordon, Aboriginal elder and local legend.
AMAZING BAMA WAY DISCOVERY TOUR
It’s impossible to understand 40,000 years in one afternoon and the team at Bama Way know this. Their three-day Bama Way Discovery Tour takes travellers away from the bright lights of Cairns to get under the region’s skin, travelling along the bumpy and beautiful Bloomfield Track to Cooktown to spend time with some very inspiring Indigenous locals. You will learn how to hunt and gather on the land, laugh with the Walker Sisters and walk in the footsteps of Aboriginal Elder and story-keeper Willie Gordon’s ancestors to view 10,000 year old rock art. The journey skirts the colours of Australia, and takes you into rainforests, open plains and mountain ranges.
PAMAGIRRI EXPERIENCE AT RAINFORESTATION NATURE PARK
For those shorter on time, but still wanting to dive into Australia’s history, Rainforestation Nature Park is the right experience for you. Located in the World Heritage Wet Tropics Rainforest at the top of Kuranda Range, the nature park offers a delightful insight into the Pamagirri’s culture and community. Watch a one-hour tribal dance show in a natural rainforest setting before taking a guided Dreamtime walk modelled on the Rainbow Serpent. Try throwing a boomerang and a spear before making music with the didgeridoo!
NGADIKU DREAMTIME WALKS
The Ngadiku Dreamtime Walk tour focuses on Mossman Gorge, a world-heritage listed Eden that’s hailed for its sparkling streams, cascading waterfalls, stunning rainforests and a dramatic gorge. Here, the magic and the mystery of a World-Heritage listed forest comes to life with a personal local guide who stops frequently to identify bush foods and show unusual uses for native plants. During the tour you will hear traditional stories, witness a smoking ceremony and come that little bit closer to understanding the sacred land.
WALKABOUT CULTURAL ADVENTURES
Walkabout Cultural Adventures offers full- and half-day tours that visit culturally significant sights between Port Douglas and Bloomfield. Spend time with the Kuku Yalanji Aboriginal people and learn about their history, and relationship with nature and its healing powers. Sample bush tucker and swim in freshwater streams.
Halfway between Cairns and Townsville lies the Davidson Valley, home to Jabanbarra Jirrbal people and Ingan Tours. Here tours through the heavy growth rainforest lead to the crystal clear Echo Creek where a local guide recounts how Yunba the Black Water Python healed his sick and wounded ancestors. Alternately, the Ingan River Walk takes you through knee high water and shows the art of basket weaving. If you are visiting nearby Mission Beach or Paronella Park, then this is the tour for you.
HAVE YOU EVER BEEN ON AN INDIGENOUS EXPERIENCE? WHAT ARE YOUR FAVOURITE MEMORIES? SHARE IN THE COMMENTS BELOW.
Originally published on Hello, Sunshine, the Offical Blog of Queensland, Australia