Walkabout in Their Shoes: Exploring Aboriginal Culture in the Outback

Long before Native Americans hunted buffalo and Pygmy people learned to thrive in the rainforests of the Congo, Australian Aboriginals conquered the harsh conditions of Australia. With a history dating back more than 75,000 years, Australian Aboriginals are regarded as the world's oldest surviving group of people. Many descendants of these original Aussies now call Western Australia home. Some have migrated to the cities, while others enjoy a traditional way of life in the state's Outback. Learn more about their fascinating culture through the following activities.

Explore the Indigenous Heritage of Kings Park

Today, Kings Park is an inner-city oasis, a place for families to play and picnic. However, more than 35,000 years ago, the area was home to the campsites and hunting grounds of the Wadjuk tribe. A descendant of these people leads Indigenous heritage tours of the park every weekday at 1:30 and 3:30 p.m. Your guide will teach you about bush medicine, ancient tools, fire-making techniques, and the Dreamtime.

If you'd prefer to explore at your own pace, download the map for a self-guided tour of Boodja Gnarning Walk.

Tour the Outback

Aboriginal communities dotted around the Western Australian Outback prefer to lead a simple existence off the grid. Indigenous tour guides in the remote areas of Shark Bay, the Dampier Peninsula, and Fitzroy Crossing welcome visitors into their camps. There, you'll view ancient rock art, hear magical Dreamtime stories, learn to throw a boomerang, and taste traditional bush tucker. Indigenous communities aren't serviced by public transport but are easily accessible with a Bayswater Rental car.

Admire Aboriginal Art

While you've got the rental car, head across to the Burrup Peninsula in the Pilbara. This Outback area is one of the world's best outdoor art galleries, with more than 10,000 Aboriginal engravings on show. Around 1,000 kilometres northwest, you'll find the Bradshaw Paintings, or Gyorn Gyorn, in the Kimberleys. With a history dating back 60,000 years, it's thought to be the oldest rock art on the planet.

Viewing these ancient artworks in such rugged natural surrounds will give you the most authentic taste of Aboriginal culture. However, Western Australia's major cities also have impressive Indigenous art collections. Admire ancient and modern Aboriginal works at Perth's Art Gallery of WA, Fremantle's Japingka Gallery, and Geraldton's Yamaji Art Centre.

Attend a Culture Celebration

Western Australia's Aboriginal communities celebrate their heritage at a number of key events, and they'd love you to join in the fun. In May, Kununurra hosts the Ord Valley Muster. What began as a simple dinner for local businesses has grown into a two-week festival with cooking demonstrations, market stalls, mountain bike challenges, street parties, and the Waringarri Corroboree. Every July, the Mowanjum Festival, Australia's largest public corroboree, takes over the land 12 kays from Derby. Aboriginal music and dance is showcased every September at the Halls Creek Music Festival, or Nguyuru Waaringarrem.

Whether you want to stay close to the cities or pack up your rental car for a trip to the Outback, Western Australia has much to teach you about Australia's Aboriginal culture.

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