Australia has an amazingly rich cultural and artistic heritage, which can be discovered in a variety of different areas where ancient tradition still thrives among contemporary Aboriginal communities. We’ve rounded up some of the best places to connect with Aboriginal art and culture, and discover the beauty of their way of life.
Kimberley is home to some of the world’s oldest rock art, with evidence suggesting the region was populated as long as 50,0000 years ago. Academic study of the paintings is ongoing, as it gives clues about the lifestyles, diets and religions of ancient Aboriginal people. There is a huge range of rock art styles at different sites across Kimberley, which reflect the cultural and artistic development in the area throughout different historic periods. Some of the earliest styles show human interaction with the landscape, with rock markings and arrangements, whilst later art includes complex depictions of human and animal forms, and even records of Aboriginal thought.
The Kimberley Foundation is responsible for protecting this outstanding heritage area, which is unique in the world for its quality and quantity of ancient Aboriginal art. They work alongside Aboriginal communities to record the art and support academic research at the site. Aboriginal art and culture is just as important in the area today, with ancient designs, patterns and stories still being reinforced through ritual, dance, song, body painting and other forms of art. For Indigenous Australians in Kimberley, art is still inseparable from everyday life.
Katherine has been an important meeting place for indigenous people for many thousands of years, and still enjoys a strong aboriginal culture and artistic tradition. Marking the point where the traditional lands of the Jawoyn, Dagoman, and Wardaman Aboriginal people meet, Katherine is home to galleries, festivals, ancient rock art, crafts and culture that celebrate the traditions of indigenous people. Whether you want to discover ancient Aboriginal culture or experience how it continues to thrive in the modern day, Katherine offers an amazing range of activities that will allow you to connect with indigenous art and culture.
Gregory National park is a great place to discover ancient Aboriginal rock art and the beautiful landscape of the region. Follow the Escarpment and Nawulbinbin walks, which are carefully signposted to explain the ingenious stories of how the ancient landscape was created. If you want to enjoy a hands-on experience of Aboriginal Culture, you can tour an Aboriginal community and take part in activities such as basket weaving, spear throwing, fire lighting, painting, and playing the didgeridoo. Locals also offer guided walks into the bush to learn about bush medicines and bush tucker, as well as visits to the community art centre.
The culture of the Aboriginal people of Australia who inhabit Tiwi differs from those who can be encountered on the mainland. Although they were some of the first people to come into contact with Europeans in the 1700s, they were not colonised until the early 20th century. The dangerous sea that separates this island from the mainland meant that the art and culture of Tiwi developed in a somewhat isolated environment. The distinct abstract and geometric nature of Tiwi art has made it unique to other Aboriginal art, and highly collectable.
The Tiwi Art Network is an alliance between the three art centres on the Tiwi Islands, and is a great way to experience the art that is still being created by Aboriginal people in the area. They are dedicated to the development and promotion of traditional art forms, as well as crafts such as pottery, carving, weaving, etching, linocut, lithograph, jewellery and screen printing. The colours used in Tiwi artwork honour and reflect the traditional culture of the area, particularly natural earth pigments such as ochre, which is used to adorn the body for funerals and initiation ceremonies. Tiwi art and culture is unique, and it is well worth making the trip to connect with the indigenous art and culture that still thrives in this region.
Kakadu National Park
Kakadu has been home to Aboriginal people for more than 50,000 years, and around 500 Aboriginal people still live in outstations around the park. Around 2,000 people lived in the area before the arrival of non-Aboriginals, and the introduction of vehicles and other amenities have changed the seasonally-nomadic way of life to a more settled one in Kakadu. It is an amazing place to learn about aboriginal life in both a contemporary and a traditional setting. From clans and kinships, languages and foods, to being respectful of cultural manners, there is a lot to learn about and experience at this beautiful national park.
If connecting with the ancient art and culture of the Aboriginal people appeals to you, why not browse our range of cruises that visit different regions? Check out our full range of Australia cruises or you can give our friendly sales team a call on 1300 857 345.