The Weekend Australian - Travel - - TRAVEL & INDULGENCE -

Dream­time South­ern X is just one of a grow­ing num­ber of Abo­rig­i­nal op­er­a­tors in NSW en­deav­our­ing to teach vis­i­tors about indige­nous cul­ture. More than 332,000 in­ter­na­tional trav­ellers to NSW took part in an Abo­rig­i­nal cul­tural ex­pe­ri­ence in the year to March.

It’s an op­por­tu­nity for the many tribal groups in the state, which is home to Aus­tralia’s largest Abo­rig­i­nal pop­u­la­tion, to share their cul­ture. Peter Cooley, chief ex­ec­u­tive of Sydney’s First Hand Solutions Abo­rig­i­nal Corp, says such en­ter­prises play an im­por­tant role in en­cour­ag­ing vis­i­tors and lo­cals to learn about indige­nous tra­di­tions.

The cor­po­ra­tion’s Blak Mar­kets, held quar­terly at Baranga­roo on Sydney Har­bour, and at La Per­ouse’s Bare Is­land on Botany Bay in the city’s south, show­case the work of up to 45 Abo­rig­i­nalowned small busi­nesses based in NSW and up to 15 re­mote art cen­tres across Aus­tralia.

“The Blak Mar­kets show Abo­rig­i­nal peo­ple there is a fu­ture in cul­ture through arts and craft,” Cooley says. “They in­spire and mo­ti­vate our peo­ple to learn cul­ture, skills and sto­ries from elders, which are show­cased through arte­fact mak­ing, paint­ing, de­sign and cul­tural per­for­mances.” The mar­kets have so far at­tracted more than 60,000 vis­i­tors and gen­er­ated up to $700,000 for Abo­rig­i­nal small busi­nesses.

Abo­rig­i­nal en­ter­prises are also tak­ing off else­where in the state. Wagga Wagga’s rich Abo­rig­i­nal her­itage is ex­plained through lan­guage, arte­facts, bush tucker and sto­ries by Wi­rad­juri man Mark Saddler dur­ing half, full-day and overnight tours with his com­pany, Bundyi Cul­tural Tours.

Guides at Wa­jaana Yaam Ad­ven­ture Tours on the NSW mid-north coast are di­rect de­scen­dants of the world’s first pad­dle board­ers — the Gum­bayn­g­girr salt­wa­ter peo­ple who lived by the sea. This con­nec­tion to the ocean is cel­e­brated with an ad­ven­ture pad­dle in Coffs Har­bour’s Soli­tary Is­lands Ma­rine Park.

Fur­ther south, at Scotts Head and Gaa­gal Wang­gaan Na­tional Park, Un­kya Cul­tural Eco Tours takes guests on a jour­ney through the ocean’s cre­ation story, ex­plor­ing how the first wave was made and learn­ing about the Gum­bayn­g­girr peo­ple’s traditional fish traps and hunt­ing prac­tices on the Gur­ru­uja Juun (Whale Tail) Tour.

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