Best Indigenous tourism experiences in the sunshine state

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Q. Shelley Winkel is our consumer publicity leader for Tourism and Events in Queensland can we come up and see you Shelley?
Shelley Winkel:
You certainly can, it’s so warm up here you’ll be in your t-shirt, so I am warning you, you’ve got to leave the jumper behind.

Tell us about the year of Indigenous Tourism.
So, this is a program that our state government is pushing right through the end of next year. So I’ve been so lucky in the last few weeks, I’ve gone out and seen quite a few tours myself and I can tell you they’re absolutely incredible.

Give us your top three.
Let’s start with Brisbane. I think in Brisbane you can go 20,000 years in 20 minutes. There’s a tour called the Nyanda water hole and it’s an ancient bora site. You basically take the last few hours of an ancient ritual and you follow the track with the traditional owners, and you learn a lot about bush medicine as you go along. That’s taking you back 20,000 years.

Then if you go another 20 minutes or 30 minutes south of Brisbane there this really cool tour called Spirits of the Red Sand. This one is a bit confronting, it’s a bit gritty, it’s a re-enactment of a time in the 19th century where colonial settlers clashed with indigenous people and it’s all re-enacted by the descendants of those indigenous people. It’s quite gritty but it ends with hope, it ends with ‘understand our story and let’s walk together’. It’s quite a spiritually uplifting and a really cool story so that was great.

Then I was really lucky enough last week to do a tour which took us to the puppet art works of indigenous and aboriginal Australians that was really cool just walking around the city. I didn’t even know these things existed, I’d walked past the installations so many times and never really thought about it, so it got me to stop and think about the traditional owners and also to respect the beautiful art that they are creating.

What about Sunshine Coast is there anything in that area that talks to traditional owners?
Yeah you might not know this, but I grew up on the Sunshine coast and love it. I grew up in a place called Caloundra and all I knew about the indigenous people was that Caloundra meant ‘beautiful head land’. I got a chance to go out on a boat with a gentleman called Simon, this is called the Saltwater Eco Tour and while we were on the boat there was a man who told us the most incredible story of creation of Mount Coolum. This guy is a born entertainer, he is hilarious to listen to. This story that has been handed down thousands of years to him, but he puts in all these modern references too.

The story telling is the ongoing thread here isn’t it?
Definitely and its really interesting when you do these tours. Often the outcome or the intent is quietly woven through in the story telling, you might just think it’s a creation story but it’s actually a learning or a moral on how to behave, how to be nice to people.

And understanding is education, understanding is acceptance, understanding is breaking down the fear and going on these tours I guarantee no one would leave them the same as they were at the start.
Yes, there is this incredible tour up in Cooktown and I have been lucky enough to go there twice with this Elder and I have taken some pretty hardnosed journalists with me on that tour and I’ve seen two people cry. The way it makes you think, the way that this elder explains the world in a gentle way of coming together in acceptance and I’ve seen two people cry on them. You leave them with so much respect, so much understanding and just wanting to bridge the gap.

Is there somewhere on the Queensland Tourism website where people can look at different types of indigenous tourism? Have you got a year of indigenous tourism landing page?
There isn’t one at the moment but when you go on to just in the search button at the top right, if you type in aboriginal tours a heap will pop up from there.

Shelley mentions the following tours in her interview

Jarramali Rock Art Tours, Cooktown
0402 805 821

Normanby Station Tour, Cooktown

Walkabout Cultural Adventures, Port Douglas
0429 478 206
[email protected]

Janbal Art Gallery, Mossman Gorge

Saltwater Eco Cruise, Mooloolaba

Nyanda Cultural Tours, Brisbane
07 3868 1244

Spirits Of Red Sand, Brisbane
Director of Marketing & Business Management

BlackCard Cultural Tours, Brisbane
07 3899 8153


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Total Comments: 1
  1. 0

    Spirits of the Red Sands is brilliant. I defy anyone not to have a tear come to their eye as the history of the shameful treatment of the indigenous people here and in many other parts of Australia is told as it truly was. I am looking forward to visiting in the daytime to view the adjacent museum.
    On an entirely different note, the food served at dinner afterwards included many indigenous foods and was absolutely delicious.



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