Indigenous Tourism Experiences – Cairns & Tropical North Queensland

With the year of Indigenous Tourism carried over to 2021 which I for one am happy to celebrate this two years in a row and lock downs lifted, this offered us a great opportunity this month to show our support to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture and undertake a couple of great tourism products plus enjoy a long overdue visit to Cairns and Tropical North Queensland.

The Great Barrier Reef stretches over2300 km and is the world’s largest coral reef system. Cairns in Tropical North Queensland is certainly one of the many places you can enjoy an aquatic experience and immerse yourself in a living wonderland.

Departing from Cairns, we went out for the day with Dreamtime Dive & Snorkel. They offer tours 3 days a week for snorkellers and divers visiting two premium outer reef sites. Today we venture to Yirrganydji Sea Country where Norman, Saxon and Hastings Reefs are located. The bonus’ not just learning about the Great Barrier Reef, it’s diverse ecosystem and how we can be responsible citizens and make better choices to care for our environment, but we also spent the day with Indigenous Sea Rangers who happily share their knowledge of culture and heritage with you.

Having already eaten breakfast, imagine our delight to be welcomed on board by staff serving hot breakfast rolls & wraps plus tea or coffee. During this time the team provides a welcome and acknowledgement of country, talks about the Great Barrier Reef creation story and undertakes their safety briefing.

After collecting your complimentary snorkel gear or if diving having your on-board class with the dive instructors you are free to move around 3 decks and chillax. The time passes quickly when chatting with your Sea Rangers who also provide demonstrations on using fire poles, clapping sticks, dancing, and didgeridoo performances. On board the vessel is a Marine Biologist and today, we had Michelle who happily shared her knowledge and love for this area with us.

Before we know it, we are at our first reef site and into the water. The visibility is amazing and we snorkel to our hearts content. Coming back on board we enjoy a wonderful lunch that offered loads of veg and nonveg options. Our second snorkel site was probably my most favourite experience and I think it was because we opted to do the Advanced Guided Snorkel with Marine Biologist Michelle. This gave us a fascinating insight into the reef eco system and diversity of life which Michelle pointed out all the way along the tour. Bailey and Uncle Tim along with the many other staff really made everyone feel welcome and were so happy to chat, interact with guests and share their love of sea and country with us. Afternoon tea is served on the way home and before disembarking the team provide a farewell and give guests the chance to take photos with them. Certainly, a brilliant day out.

Some things to note, this day tour is snorkelling and diving directly off the vessel, there is no pontoon thus allowing guests to really experience the Great Barrier Reef. The vessel has a hot water shower on board and toilets. There was ample room for everyone on board to stretch out. Life vests are allocated to each passenger for snorkelling and water noodles are also available. Safety is a high priority with staff positioned in various locations to keep watch. I am not very good travelling on water but I felt safe and comfortable at all times and did take a few ginger tablets prior to our vessel departing. The friendly team on board can also assist you with any queries.

 

Fancy some adventure 4WDing, getting away from it all, some wonderful food and company whilst learning about Indigenous culture? Then travel to Cape York with a local traditional owner from the Kuku-Yalanji family on country like we did this weekend past and take the road less travelled to immerse yourself in a visual feast of ancient rock art. Some of the best rock art I have ever seen! Johnny Murison is a West Yulanji man who with his local Elders, Family has put together an incredible Indigenous tourism offering.

“UNESCO regards the Quinkan Rock Art as one of the ten most significant bodies of rock art in the world”.

Access to these rock art sites is only available via the Jarramali Rock Art Tours either 4WD adventure track or a helicopter scenic tour and can be found amongst the sandstone escarpments near the small town of Laura in North Queensland. Tag along tours are also offered and meet in Laura township.

The outdoor Art Gallery is massive. Some steep natural stairs to walk down but you will be rewarded ten fold once you arrive at the bottom of the large ledge. Johnny is a fabulous narrator and explains in detail the history of his people, dreaming, the artwork and all too quickly dusk approaches and we make our way back to home base to freshen up before dinner.

Learning about native bush medicines, bush tucker was equally interesting. Camp-fire dinner was so yummy and we had such wonderful company meeting fellow travellers and chatting with them. Went to sleep in our tent with the side windows down to view the millions of stars.

Such a stunning view to wake up to the next day and after a hearty breakfast we set off to look at another special site, the Rainbow Serpent Rock Art …. just as impressive as the Art Gallery we saw yesterday but this spot requires you to clamber over rocks and crevices to reach your destination but so well worth it!

Johnny was a fantastic guide who went above and beyond to make everyone’s experience so rewarding and special.

I found our time on country humbling, so thankful Johnny and their family have chosen to open this beautiful space up to us to visit, share their culture and knowledge of our incredible country. A trip of a lifetime, not to be forgotten in a hurry.

 

For more tourism information

www.tourism.tropicalnorthqueensland.org.au/