By Bev Malzard
Here are my four key destinations to experience one of the world’s oldest cultures right here in Australia. You’ll be fascinated and captivated like I have been, I’m sure of it.
Tiwi Islands: The Tiwi Islands consist of Bathurst and Melville Island 80km north of Darwin. The islands are the traditional homes of the Tiwi Aboriginal people. The islands have a fascinating history and are well-worth a visit to see the renowned artists at work.
Tiwi people produce exquisite silk screened fabrics, clothing, carvings and paintings and elaborately decorated Pukumani burial poles. Best way to see the island is via a day tour, by boat or light plane. (This is a splendid place to buy beautiful collectible souvenirs.)
Uluru: take the long and rewarding walk around the rock with an Indigenous guide. Learn the myths and legends and be immersed in the spiritual side of Uluru. And for fun, try a ride around by motorbike – easy rider, easier than walking.
Two night experiences that are hard to beat are The Sounds of Silence dinner, with a didgeridoo player offering haunting sounds as the sun sets and Uluru turns pink in the distance. And the ultimate dinner experience with gourmet tucker is at Tali Wiru in a natural setting in the desert. The distant silhouette of Kata Tjuta are your walls. (Tali Wiru means ‘beautiful dune’ in the local Anangu language.
The Top End: this covers quite a geographical and physical personality. With a superb view over the Adelaide River flood plains, the Window on the Wetlands interpretive centre offers a glimpse into the Top End’s wetlands environment. Next door to the centre, Adelaide River Jumping (I kid you not) Crocodile Cruises thrill visitors with you-know-what jumping out of the water to the lure of food – not tourists!
Also Garma Festival is the country’s premier Indigenous event – a celebration held annually in July celebrating the cultural, artistic and ceremonial traditions of the Yolngu people. Over four days in remote Arnhem Land experience manikay (story telling), bunggul (dancing) and a window into a slice of life not often seen outside of remote communities. Garma transcends colour, race and creed. Take the leap into Arnhem Land, the prize is in being there.
If you are going to do Kakadu, do do it in comfort. Take a few days and camp in the park – let someone else do the cooking – mmm, is that a damper I see?
And the Yellow Water cruise through the wetlands is magnificent – whether it’s the wet or the dry season (and both have ultimate appeal) you’ll see a variety of seasonal birds and there’s always the wildlife in the water – crocs of course. Many day walks through the different areas yield surprises and discoveries.