Five Aboriginal cultural centres to visit in New South Wales

Traditional Aboriginal fish traps in Brewarrina (Ngemba Country), also known as Baiame's Ngunnhu.
Traditional Aboriginal fish traps in Brewarrina (Ngemba Country), also known as Baiame's Ngunnhu. Credit: Destination NSW

New South Wales is home to the largest Aboriginal population in Australia, with more than 80 unique groups around the state. Discover the diversity of the world’s oldest living culture as you head out of Sydney and visit Aboriginal cultural centres in regional New South Wales. Through seeing artefacts and artworks, taking guided tours and trying bush tucker, you’ll gain a deeper understanding of the areas you visit.

Read more: 213 things to do in NSW

Brewarrina Aboriginal Cultural Museum
On the banks of the Barwon River at Brewarrina in the state’s northwest, the Brewarrina Aboriginal Cultural Museum stands where Aboriginal groups have been meeting for more than 30,000 years. The museum looks over 500m of National Heritage-listed rock weirs and pools (also known as Ngunnhu) that local Aboriginal people built to catch fish as they swam upstream. Check out the artefacts in the museum before taking a one-hour tour with a Ngemba Custodian to appreciate the ingenious design of the fish traps. You can also enjoy a coffee or pick up some locally designed souvenirs at the centre’s Riverbank Coffee Bar and Gifts.

Brewarrina Fish Traps, Brewarrina
Brewarrina Fish Traps, Brewarrina. Credit: Destination NSW

Read more: Australia’s best regional galleries revealed

Yarrawarra Aboriginal Cultural Centre, Corindi Beach
Corindi Beach, 30 minutes north of Coffs Harbour on the NSW Mid North Coast, is the home of the Garby people, in the northern lowlands of the Gumbaynggirr Nation. At the Yarrawarra Aboriginal Cultural Centre you can learn about Gumbaynggirr culture in the Jalumbo Keeping Place, where artefacts dating back more than 4000 years are on display. Surrounded by bushland and native wildlife, the centre has accommodation for up to 70 people, a function centre, and serves food with a native twist in the Pipeclay Café. Visiting with a group? The centre can also arrange cultural and bush tucker tours as well as traditional weaving and painting classes. 

Wadjar Regional Indigenous Gallery, Yarrawarra Aboriginal Cultural Centre, Coffs Harbour.
Credit: Wadjar Regional Indigenous Gallery, Yarrawarra Aboriginal Cultural Centre

Minjungbal Aboriginal Cultural Centre, Tweed Heads
The Minjungbal Aboriginal Cultural Centre is part of the Tweed Heads Historic Site on the far North Coast. Found on the edge of the Ukerebagh Nature Reserve, the centre is run by the local Aboriginal community and here you can find out about life in Bundjalung Country through museum exhibits, videos and art. Join Aboriginal guides on tours around the museum and into the reserve, where you can follow the Walk on Water walking track through forest and mangroves, and see the Bora Ring – a sacred site traditionally used for men’s initiation ceremonies. 

Scenic coastal views from Fingal Head at sunrise.
Scenic coastal views from Fingal Head at sunrise. Credit: David Kirkland

Armidale and Region Aboriginal Cultural Centre and Keeping Place, Armidale
Take a guided tour of the Armidale and Region Aboriginal Cultural Centre and Keeping Place to learn about Aboriginal history and life today in the New England region of northwest NSW. Part of the permanent collection of artefacts is on display, and the centre also has various exhibitions throughout the year covering all forms of art by local and regional artists. There are workshops for young and old where you can learn how to play traditional games and how to paint with ochre, from grinding and mixing the pigments to the symbols that tell your own story. As well as taking home the artwork you created yourself, you can buy one from a local artist in the gift shop. 

Read more: Seven diverse regions to visit in NSW

Wungunja Cultural Centre, Trangie
The old scout hall in the town of Trangie, in the Macquarie Valley in the state’s Central West, has been transformed into the Wungunja Cultural Centre. Here visitors can view artefacts from around the region: axes, boomerangs, saws, rubbing stones and anvil stones are all on display, and you can also see two large carved burial trees that once stood nearby on the banks of the Macquarie River. After being taken to Sydney to be part of the Australian Museum’s collection in the 1960s, the trees now have a special place in the cultural centre. If you’d like a guided tour you’ll need to book ahead, but visitors are welcome to look around whenever the centre is open.

How much do you know about Aboriginal culture? Have you visited any of these sites?

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Written by Destination NSW

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