One of the parts of Australia’s heritage that makes the country so unique is its history with the Aboriginal people who were there long before the Europeans found the continent down under in the 18th century. After migrating over 50,000 years ago from Africa, indigenous Australians have become a compelling and fascinating part of the country’s heritage. Although currently there are just over half a million Aboriginal people in Australia, or 2.5% of the total population, their influence on Australia is undeniable.
Many people are familiar with the history of Australia’s Aboriginal people, more specially, the impact that this distinct cultural group has had on Australian history and culture. The various indigenous groups in the country were there for at least 40,000-50,000 years before the Dutch found the country in the 1600s and the British colonised it in 1770s. Over 200 languages were spoken by the individual groups, and the settlements were primarily in the same locations as the current cities and towns of Australia.
Whether you’re Australian or a tourist,an effort should be made to visit some of the incredibly preserved Aboriginal art and heritage. The following routes take tyou through some of the most beautiful parts of Australia, showcasing the history, heritage and art of the Aboriginal people along the way.
The Savannah Way
Linking the North Eastern state of Queensland to Western Australia through the Northern Territory, the Savannah Way goes through 15 of the country’s national parks and five World Heritage areas. The train runs through the famous Kimberley region, and visitors will pass through Darwin, on to Katherine, Timber Creek, Kununurra, Halls Creek and finish in Broome. This trip takes about six days to complete, but driving through the beautiful Kimberley region will ensure that you see not only the coastline, but desert and tropics as well.
If you’re interested in a longer journey, the Explorers Highway is an 11 day drive from the north of Australia to the south, down the centre of the continent. Passing through the some beautiful wine regions, you’ll also be able to take a drive through the famous town of Alice Springs, see Uluru (also known as Ayers Rock) and the Kings Canyon with an Aboriginal guide. You’ll also see some amazing Aboriginal rock art in Kakadu National Park, which is a World Heritage Site.
South Australian Loop
For a one to two week drive through Australia, the South Australian Loop offers you not only a passage through the south east of the country, but you’ll drive through areas offering you unique opportunities to see kangaroos, penguins, sea lions and more. Between Arkaroola and Parachilna, you’ll see rock art, visit sacred sites, and be treated to some bush tucker.
This journey is a five day trip through the Adelaide and Mary River wetlands to World Heritage-listed Kakadu National Park, and back to Darwin. You’ll see the amazing crevices that the Dreamtime ancestors created in the Nourlangie Rock, and witness some amazingly preserved examples of X-ray art in the park itself. You’ll also be able to spend time exploring with an Aboriginal guide.
If you’d like to learn more about Aboriginal heritage in Australia, the sacred sites of Baiame Cave, Ban Ban Springs, and Murujuga should be top of your list of what to see. Baiame was the Creator God and Sky Father in several Indigenous groups, and a cave in the New South Wales area of Milbrodale houses numerous Wiradjuri Aboriginal paintings, one of which might depict Baiame himself.
Ban Ban Springs is the first area of Queensland to be registered formally as an Aboriginal Cultural Heritage location. It is a Dreaming place, and holds a lot of significance of the Wakka Wakka people.
Murujuga, which is also known as the Burrup Peninsula is a unique ecological and archaeological area. It contains the world’s largest and most important collection of ancient Aboriginal rock carvings, some of which might date back to 10,000 BC. Some of the most unique depict the now extinct ‘Tasmanian Tiger’.
Hopefully you’re now inspired so why not book some last minute flights, and start exploring.