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Friday Favs: Indigenous Tourism

Zak Kirkup -

All through Indigenous Business Month we're celebrating our Five Friday Favourites. Last week it was clothing brands, and this week: tourism businesses.

There is no doubt that post-lockdowns, more and more people are getting out and about and wanting to explore Australia. Whether it's tourists overseas, interstate or just wandering around your own backyard, Tourism Research Australia reports that 2.5 million Australian and international visitors took part in an Indigenous tourism experience in 2019 (and it has continued to grow ever since).

Tourism is an especially important part of the Indigenous business landscape, allowing not just the story-telling and transfer of inter-generational cultural knowledge, but also providing employment. So with that, here are five of our favourite Indigenous tourism businesses and experiences.

Oolin Sunday Island Cultural Tours (WA)

Rosanna Angus, is a Jawi woman whose family lived on Sunday Island during the early mission days and her Oolin Sunday Island experiences off the Kimberley coast are not to be missed. You can rest assured too that not only are you in great hands as Rosanna imparts the shared knowledge of her people but Oolin Sunday Island was also awarded the 2023 Top Tour Guide at the recent Australian Tourism Awards.

Wintjiri Wiru (NT)

Named after the 'beautiful view out to the horizon' in the local Pitjantjatjara language, Wintjiri Wiru is an experience like no other in Australia. Performed as a partnership between Voyages Indigenous Tourism Australia and Uluru's traditional landowners, the Aṉangu people, the evening light shows are as special as the ancient Mala story they tell from Kaltukatjara to Uluru. 1200 drones light up the sky, with narration in local Pitjantjatjara and Yankunytjatjara languages with ceremonial music. Wintjiri Wiru is so special, that it was featured in Conde Nast Traveler's "best travel ideas for 2023", one of only two in the country.

Wajaana Yaam Gumbaynggirr Adventure Tours (NSW)

For thousands of years, the Gumbaynggirr people around Coffs Harbour have been carving canoes to go out into the beautiful waterways about 500km north of Sydney. The award-winning Wajaana Yaam Gumbaynggirr Adventure Tours replicate this experience with stand-up paddleboard, kayak or walking tours as part of this 100% Aboriginal-owned business. Even better, a percentage of profits are invested in the BMN Aboriginal Corporation to help support Indigenous youth education programs.

wukalina Walk (Tas)

wukalina Walk is a multi-award-winning 4-day/3-night Palawa-owned and operated 35-kilometer hike in North East Lutruwita / Tasmania. The only one of its kind in Tassie, if not the world, the wukalina Walk takes guests through bushland and along the coastline of Wukalina (Mt William National Park) and Larapuna (Bay of Fires), crossing creeks and sleeping in camps (though rest assured, there are hot showers!). The team at wukalina Walk were awarded the 2022 gold at the Australian Tourism Awards and rightly so as they tell the story of survival and connection to country.

Koorie Heritage Trust (Vic)

A huge shout out to KHT who don't just run a cultural centre, art gallery and retail spaces - but also do exceptional walking tours of Naarm / Melbourne. Their walking tours start a Fed Square (where KHT is in the midst of building the largest Indigenous cultural centre in the country!) and offer a variety of options such as the Birrarung Wilam (river camp) walk, or Scar Tree walk for individuals through to groups and larger organisations.


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