Tourists visiting the most recognized sights in Australia often have little knowledge of their Aboriginal historical importance.
1. The Great Barrier Reef, Queensland.
One of the world’s seven natural wonders is the Great Barrier Reef. Stretching along the Queensland coast for more than 2,300 km and covering 35 m hectares, it features brilliantly colored corals living under aquamarine waters. This is an abundance of tropical islands, and a wealth of marine creatures and birdlife.
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander tribes are the traditional owners of the Great Barrier Reef region and many of its islands are home to important cultural sites. In the world heritage listing of the Great Barrier Reef, the strong ongoing links between traditional owners and their sea country have been recognized and contribute to its outstanding universal value. Traditional owners ‘ cultural and ecological knowledge will be key to delivering the Reef 2050 Plan, the blueprint for protecting and maintaining the reef and designed to be implemented in a collaborative partnership.
2. The Garma festival, Northern Territory.
An extraordinary cultural event is this world renowned festival. Over four days, the north-eastern Arnhem Land’s Yoluppu people share their knowledge and culture. A visual art, dance, music and ancient storytelling festival, Garma aims to promote economic opportunities for the people of Yolu through community development, literacy, self-governance, entrepreneurship and youth leadership.
In addition to discussing the challenges and solutions faced by the Aboriginal in Australia and Torres Strait Islanders, Garma also aims at strengthening, preserving and maintaining ancient Aboriginal culture. This is designed to foster greater understanding between Australian Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people.
3. Uluru–Kata Tjuta national park, Northern Territory.
The ancient forms of Uluru and Kata Tjuta are found in the red heart of the Central Desert in Australia. This is at the heart of the Australian continent geographically, spiritually and symbolically. We rise majestically above the plains of red-sand, dominate the landscape and are enveloped in legend and mystery. Uluru and Kata Tjuta are much more than mere rock formations for local people. They form a living cultural landscape sacred to the Anangu people of Yankunytjatjara and Pitjantjatjara. On October 26, 1985, Uluru and Kata Tjuta were handed over to the Anangu people. In what remains one of Australia’s most important land rights movement moments.
Uluru is a place of cultural significance for many central Australian Aboriginal groups, including the people of Pitjantjatjara and Yankuntjatjara Anangu, who have been living in the area for at least 10,000 years. In the region where ancestral spirits still live, there are more than 40 sacred Aboriginal sites that make the land profoundly important to the Anangu cultural identity. The people of Pitjantjatjara and Yankuntjatjara still abide by ancient laws and traditions, called Tjukurpa, which provide their unique culture with the base.
4. Kakadu national park, Northern Territory.
Kakadu is a culture-living ecosystem. The region’s rock art reveals that Aboriginal people have inhabited Kakadu for 40,000 to 60,000 years, the longest period of continuous human occupation of any location on Earth. The rock art galleries demonstrate that there was a strong culture among early indigenous groups focused on deep spiritual beliefs. Through Kakadu’s world heritage status, this religious link to the land is recognised globally.
Kakadu’s name comes from an Aboriginal language, Gagudju, spoken at the beginning of the 20th century in the north of the park. Title of their land was granted to the Gagudju people in 1978, which they then leased for use as a national park. Kakadu is managed jointly by the residents of Bininj, Mungguy and Australia Parks.
While Gagudju is no longer spoken by the area’s Aboriginal people, Kunwinjku, Gundjeihmi and Jawoyn are surviving dialects. The region’s indigenous people know themselves as Bininj. Languages, kinship, rituals, and country treatment have been passed down to the generations. It began when important ancient beings crossed the landscape and created the plants, animals, landforms and people living there today.
5. The Laura dance festival, Cape York.
The Laura Dance Festival is an Aboriginal culture festival held in north Queensland’s western Yalanji region. It is also a lively and special way for visitors to witness this ancient and continuing culture through strong song and dance performances from the Cape York region of many indigenous nations. This biennial festival, which runs through the weekend marking the end of June and the beginning of July, is one of the biggest cultural events in Queensland. For the past 25 years, it has attracted thousands of Australian and worldwide visitors.
Aboriginal arts and culture is a very unique and interesting aspect of the Australian heritage that can be felt without moving to remote locations. In every state you will experience Australia’s human element in personal and meaningful ways and not far from where you actually want to stay. Save on your Australia journey!
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