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Thursday, May 1, 2008

Top 5 indigenous cultural tours in Western Australia

Some of the best guided walks I've ever done have been with Australian guides. The Aussie guides tend to be obsessive when it comes to developing specialist knowledge, which they intersperse with fascinating facts and trivia and sprinkle it with humor. They're often self-effacing and nearly always gregarious and easy-going. And the Australian guides I've done walks with have had a special connection to the place they're introducing visitors to. No more so than Australia's Aboriginal guides. Here's my pick of Western Australia's best indigenous Australian cultural tours:
On Wula Guda Nyinda tours, at Monkey Mia in the Shark Bay World Heritage area, Darren 'Capes' Capewell (pictured) teaches you 'how to let the bush talk to you', tracking, bush tucker, bush medicine, and bush survival skills, along with some basics in the local Mulgana language.
2) Kujurta Buru tours, in the far north-west at Broome, take groups wading through the mangroves of azure-coloured Roebuck Bay to learn the art of fishing the traditional way, hunting in the local area with traditional implements, and essential bush survival techniques.
Yamatji Cultural Trails, on the central coast at Geraldton, take groups on overnight walks to important indigenous sites. There you get to camp out under the stars and gather around the campfire to learn about the history of the traditional owners of the land and discuss issues of contemporary significance to indigenous people.
At Kodja Place Interpretive Centre, at Kojonup in WA’s south, an elder from the Nyoongar tribe teaches visitors some of his people's traditional practices then sits them down around a fire and tells magical stories from the Dreaming over cups of good old-fashioned Aussie billy tea.
5) At Yanchep National Park, not far
from Perth, the local Nyoongar people performance traditional dances and give didgeridoo lessons to travellers.
For more information on indigenous cultural tourism take a look at the website of WAITOC, the Western Australian Indigenous Tour Operators Committee.

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