The an­cient ways re­vealed

The Weekend Australian - Travel - - TRAVEL & INDULGENCE -

One of the old­est liv­ing cul­tures in the world, the Yol­ngu peo­ple com­prise about 50 clans still liv­ing on their an­ces­tral lands in North East Arn­hem Land. Th­ese re­mote home­lands, mostly lo­cated on the shores of the Gulf of Car­pen­taria, are only ac­ces­si­ble by 4WD or light air­craft. Keen to show­case this raw beauty and the cul­ture that took root here an es­ti­mated 50,000 years ago, and to de­velop a tourism econ­omy for the Yol­ngu peo­ple, a group of in­dige­nous lead­ers es­tab­lished Lir­rwi Tourism in 2010. Matt Grooby, man­ager of the Lir­rwi Yol­ngu Tourism Abo­rig­i­nal Cor­po­ra­tion, says: “It’s im­por­tant to make the home­lands eco­nom­i­cally vi­able. This is tourism not for tourism’s sake but with an end goal in mind.”

With its com­mit­ment to cul­tural and en­vi­ron­men­tal preser­va­tion, Lir­rwi has at­tracted high-pro­file cor­po­rate part­ners, in­clud­ing Qan­tas, which sup­ports re­gional and in­dige­nous op­er­a­tors through its Sus­tain­able Tourism pro­gram (Lir­rwi tours can be booked us­ing Qan­tas fre­quent flyer points). Ten Yol­ngu clans are par­tic­i­pat­ing in Lir­rwi’s ven­ture, and an­other 15 are queu­ing for their turn. The clans host trav­ellers on their home­lands, of­fer­ing cor­po­rate cul­tural aware­ness pro­grams, school and art tours, cross­ing coun­try ex­pe­ri­ences and the new, women’s-only Dilly Bag Tour. A yi­daki (did­jeridu) mas­ter­class is of­fered un­der the tute­lage of master player, Djalu Gur­ruwiwi; since Yol­ngu cul­ture for­bids women to play this in­stru­ment, the tour is of­fered ex­clu­sively for men.

CATHER­INE MAR­SHALL

Pre­par­ing tu­bers

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