Thou­sands of years of his­tory

Learn and ex­plore the an­cient his­tory and cul­ture of the Abo­rig­i­nal and Tor­res Strait Is­landers the best way – by vis­it­ing their lands and meet­ing the peo­ple

Wanderlust Travel Magazine (UK) - - Queensland & Flight Centre / Promotional feature -

T

ime is rel­a­tive in Cairns and the Great Bar­rier Reef re­gion. Why? Turn the clocks back a mil­len­nium or ten. Aus­tralia’s Abo­rig­i­nal and Tor­res Strait Is­lander cul­ture stands as one of the old­est liv­ing so­ci­eties in the world, and here in the rain­for­est-draped north there are thou­sands of years of hu­man his­tory to be dis­cov­ered.

The re­gion grants trav­ellers rich in­sight into the Indige­nous way of life. Take, as an ex­am­ple, Flight Cen­tre’s full day Cape Tribu­la­tion, Dain­tree & Moss­man tour (prices from £135pp), which com­bines the crys­tal-clear pools and tow­er­ing trees of the gorge it­self with rich in­sight from its Indige­nous peo­ple.

But for those keen to ex­plore more ar­eas steeped in tra­di­tion and her­itage, the re­gion pro­vides plenty of op­por­tu­nity to wan­der fur­ther: you can catch mud crab at the aeons-old fish­ing grounds of Cooya Beach, near Port Dou­glas, or head up to the tip of Cape York to take a trip across the Tor­res Strait to Thurs­day Is­land. Mean­while there’s the op­por­tu­nity to ex­pe­ri­ence Night Fire, the pul­sat­ing, flames-and-dance evening ac­tiv­ity laid on by the Indige­nous Djabugay peo­ple at Tjapukai Abo­rig­i­nal Cul­tural Park, near Cairns. If you’re keen to learn more about the lay­ers and nu­ances of Abo­rig­i­nal cul­ture, try join­ing one of the guided tours through the Bama Way. As well as short tours, they also of­fer two- or three-day ex­cur­sions across linked cul­tural sites, with an em­pha­sis on rock art.

To get a sense of the mind-bog­gling times­pan of the Indige­nous pres­ence here, head to Bood­ja­mulla (Lawn Hill) Na­tional Park in the far west of the re­gion, where es­ti­mates of hu­man oc­cu­pa­tion stretch be­yond 30,000 years. If your fo­cus is more on pam­per­ing than the past, stick to the coast to en­joy the Indige­nous spa treatments on of­fer in the Dain­tree Rain­for­est.

Whether you’re camp­ing be­side a shim­mer­ing creek with an Abo­rig­i­nal guide or wit­ness­ing the per­for­mance of a custom that’s been handed down through num­ber­less gen­er­a­tions, the re­gion holds some in­cred­i­ble cul­tural re­wards – and holds them care­fully.

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