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Bart Pigram's journey to showcasing Broome's Indigenous culture

Dianne Bortoletto -

Bart Pigram’s journey to start his own business has been anything but linear.

From representing Australia in taekwondo to youth work, it took Mr Pigram by surprise when realised his passion is sharing the stories of his Country.

The proud Yawuru man established Narlijia Experiences in Broome about a decade ago, a walking tour through the mangroves that includes seeing dinosaur footprints and foraging for shellfish.

“The word ‘Narli’ means true, proper and authentic, and Jia means for you or belonging to you, and that’s been my approach to sharing Broome’s culture to give people a deeper understanding,” Mr Pigram said.

“Broome has been multicultural for over 100 years, and I’m taking people to places where the story hasn’t been told.

“We have a massive culture, massive history and a beautiful Country - history has been written by many other people, and it’s our time to tell our history, that’s what drives me.”

The son and nephew of the musical Pigram Brothers, he first considered tourism as a career option when he was a youth worker.

"There's a track called the Lurujarri Trail and with some young fellas, we tagged along with the annual Lurujarri Heritage Trail operated by the Goolarabooloo community to get them away from town and out into Country for several days," he said.

“Being out on Country and sharing the value of Country and culture was an eye opener and I was inspired to do more of that.”

Nowdays, Mr Pigram takes his three younger children aged 12, seven and six with him on the tours during school holidays.

“I’m the boss, so I bring the kids whenever I can to be out on Country. If other kids are on the tour, then they engage with them, and the tourists love it,” the father of six said.

“My kids know what happens on the tour, so they run ahead and collect things for me like pipis, razor clams and mangrove snails.”

Image: Jarrad Seng / Discover Aboriginal Experiences.

 

As a teenager, Mr Pigram was in the national junior squad for taekwondo.

“I moved to Perth for training, and I travelled across Australia and overseas competing in taekwondo. Being away really made me appreciate how special Broome is,” he said.

An injury as an 18-year-old halted his London 2012 Olympic aspirations.

Mr Pigram worked in the music industry with his father and uncle and then in cultural development where he was immersed in, and absorbing, cultural knowledge.

With a lack of Indigenous tours in Broome at the time, Mr Pigram said he was encouraged by others in the industry to start his own.

“I remember my first tour, it was empowering, and a revelation for me, that this is where I want to be, I want to be on Country, raising awareness of our rich and ancient environment, the continuation of cultural practice, passing on information that was graciously passed onto me,” he said.

Narlijia Experiences is listed alongside a handful of vetted tours on Tourism Australia’s Discover Aboriginal Experiences (DAE) website.

“DAE helps with getting more exposure and support with things like going to the Australian Tourism Exchange, which is in Melbourne in May," Mr Pigram said.

Narlijia Experiences offers a two-hour Mangrove Discovery Tour in Roebuck Bay, subject to tidal movements. Visit www.toursbroome.com.au for more.


 

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