From the Gulf of Savannah, which stretches from Cairns to the Northern Territory to Cape York Peninsula and every town in Tropical North Queensland is an ancient history book waiting to be discovered.
If you prefer your history told outside the classroom rather than in it, let these Indigenous adventure experiences take you back to the Dreamtime.
1. Quinkan rock art sites
Pic by Jarramali Rock Tours
It’s one thing to go to an art gallery in a city museum and marvel at paintings on the wall, and it’s quite another to step back in time in an outdoor gallery that is over 20,000 years old.
Famous for its rock art, Quinkan Country contains some of the largest and well-preserved prehistoric rock paintings in Australia. These galleries have been identified as being at least 15,000 to 30,000 years old and have been included on the Australian Heritage Estate and listed by UNESCO as being among the world’s top 10 rock art sites. Many people worldwide visit this remote location to view the rock art and gain some understanding of the Aboriginal stories associated with this magnificent sandstone landscape.
This area is located in Laura, which is about 300 km from Cairns. There is information on where to camp and stay at the Quinkan Regional Cultural station if you are driving in your car or hire a car, or you can do a tour with Jarramali Rock Art Tours.
2. Native cattle farming land
Pic by: Culture Connect
Normanby Station sits halfway between Cooktown and Laura and is a great way to engulf yourself in learning about the ancient ways of cattle farming and indigenous ways of life. Culture Connect offers a range of tours from half-day to 6-day options, with Normanby Station being one of the highlights.
Lead by traditional owners, across both a half or full-day tour format; you’ll share the stories of the Balnggarrawarra people as you tour the property.Like a life-size encyclopedia, the walls of this escarpment talk with images of crocodiles, dingos, emus and barramundi and even sailing ships, which perhaps are some of the first recordings of European settlement.
3. Salt pans of the outback
Pic by: Yagurli Tours
Having built their home around Australia’s largest salt pans for tens of thousands of years, the Gangalidda and Garawa Peoples have deep connections with the river, sea and birdlife that both water systems support. It makes sense one of the best ways to experience the area is from the water. The trip will start along the iconic Savannah Way, 890km west from Cairns.
Yagurli Tours operates out of Burketown, which only has 238 residents but is big on cultural experiences, including stargazing, 4WDing, and fishing charters in the outback. Learning about the Gangalidda and Garawa people’s way of life and experiencing some of the highlights of the land and weather like the Wet Season and Morning Glory cloud formations will be an experience worth the drive and a trip of a lifetime.
4. Quinkan dance festival
Pic by: Quinkan Festival
Laura is the central meeting place for people from the Cape, and each year the Laura Quinkan Dance Festival is held in celebration of Aboriginal culture.
The Festival began in the early 1980s and is believed to be the longest-running Aboriginal Cultural Festival in Australia. Over three days, the event showcases the culture of the Aboriginal people of Cape York through song and dance, attracting thousands of visitors from across Australia and overseas.
This year it is held on July 2-4, and this year the Ang-Gnarra Aboriginal Corporation takes responsibility for arranging and hosting the Festival for the first time. This is a significant milestone for traditional owners. It’s a place and event where families meet new and old family members and exchange and pass on history. Discovering North Queensland or Outback Queensland and experiencing indigenous cultures and tours can be a trip of a lifetime and is as easy as hiring a car from Cairns, Townsville or Mt Isa.
For more information don’t hesitate to contact me so I can put you in touch with a travel specialist for these places!