For 50,000 years the Aboriginal people of Australia have not changed their mailing address. While the rest of the country is figuring out where to travel next, these original Australians want little to do with it. For centuries they didn’t want to be bothered by the outside world and preferred sticking with their out of sight, out of mind, philosophy.
Even today they are still considered indigenous. This doesn’t mean they all live in caves carved into giant desert boulders. In fact, about a third have moved to major cities. However, about one in ten still live in truly remote areas and another fifteen percent live in the middle of nowhere, at least by modern day standards.
There are roughly 500 groups of Aboriginal persons scattered around Australia, with most of them residing in the eastern states. While each group speaks a different language, they all trace their origin back to when the earth was first created, an era they call the Dreamtime.
As one Aboriginal person was able to explain things, “By Dreaming we mean the belief that long ago these creatures started the human society, they made all natural things and put them in a special place. These Dreaming creatures were connected to special places and special roads or tracks or paths. In many places, the great creatures changed themselves into sites where their spirits stayed. Aboriginals have a special connection with everything that is natural. Aboriginals see themselves as part of nature … All things on earth we see as part human. It is true that people who belong to a particular area are really part of that area and if that area is destroyed they are also destroyed.”
Every effort is made by the Australian government to preserve this important part of their history and culture, and nowadays many landmarks dot the countryside. Aboriginal tours are huge on lots of people’s agendas.
Taking an Aboriginal culture tour is one of the most interesting ways for anyone to spend a day or even a week. It’s a step back in time to when the earth was in its infancy. It’s a view of the people who had no concept of things we now take for granted. They had to learn what was edible and what wasn’t, undoubtedly by trial and error. How to build a decent fire. Best ways to build a shelter. It could easily be one of the greatest learning experiences of your life.
Without question, the best place in Australia to learn about the Aboriginal culture is at Tjapukai. Most tours will take people here, if you don’t want to go on your own, but either way, it’s an experience which will not be soon forgotten, if ever. Some claim it is the most authentic Aboriginal tour in all of Australia.
Tjapukai can be visited in the day or night, but whenever you choose to go you’ll be treated to cultural performances, dance, food, and art.
You’ll see ancient weapons and watch demonstrations of boomerang throwing and spear tossing which were their only means of hunting. Actually, under the guidance of two warriors, you’ll learn how to toss a boomerang and make it come back, and how to hit a bullseye with a spear.
You’ll hear the haunting sounds of a didgeridoo as you listen to a stellar performance. The didgeridoo is an original instrument of the Aboriginal people and it’s rarely found elsewhere in the world.
At the dance theater, the Tjapukai Aboriginal Performers put on a celebration in full native dress where they perform traditional tribal dances. Then it’s the audiences turn to join in the fun as they difficultly attempt mimicking the unfamiliar dance moves to the unfamiliar rhythms.
Visitors will learn about bush plants and how they were used for food and medicinal purposes. They’ll learn about the survival techniques that kept them alive throughout the centuries.
An experience enjoyed by many is, NightFire. Visitors will meet with the indigenous rainforest people. The first thing they will encounter is having their faces painted in traditional fashion, linking them to the land.
In celebration of original Dreamtime stories, of which some will be told, the visitors will accompany the Tjapukai warriors to a corroboree. They will then join what is known as the Rainbow Serpent circle where they will be taught traditional language songs. This is followed by a gigantic ceremonial bonfire. If you can swing getting in on this, it’s highly recommended. But wait, there’s more.
You’ll also be treated to an out-of-this-world Aboriginal dinner of various meats, different types of seafood, fresh produce, salads, and dessert. This all takes place at the Flame Tree Bar & Grill.
After dinner is the very best part of the entire adventure. While sitting around a campfire, visitors relax in the open with Tjapukai warriors where they can engage in intimate one-on-one conversations. They’ll answer questions or tell stories if someone would rather just listen. This is the perfect ending for NightFire and perhaps some people return home with a new perspective and outlook on life. It’s that meaningful.
Special events and cocktail meetings can also be booked at Tjapukai and many companies hold special activities where they can enjoy the surroundings of a tropical rainforest while conducting business. The venue lawn can accommodate 1,500 guests.
Whether you plan on driving yourself to Tjapukai or hopping on a tour bus with other like-minded people, you will be so glad you decided to go. It isn’t very often someone has a chance to have a first-hand visit with Aboriginal people, especially ones whose culture dates back 50,000 years. And when was the last time you heard a 500 century old story, accurately passed along through long past generations? They take their history seriously, and so should you. The Aboriginal people are steeped so deeply in their own culture, it’s said their spirituality expands beyond worldly bounds.