One of the oldest surviving cultures on earth, Aboriginal culture is a truly fascinating part of our history, dating back an estimated 40,000 years. Many of their customs were still practiced well into the 1960’s in some regions, including the technique for making tools and weapons by chipping away at rock. With no permanent way to record their traditions, each community has relied on oral communication to pass down their stories and customs. In keeping with this tradition, we have created an adventure driven to-do list of the best ways to connect with this beautiful culture, from tours, public art walks or learning to play traditional instruments.
Learn to play the Didgeridoo at The Didgeridoo Breath, 6 Market St, Fremantle, Open 10.30am-5pm everyday.
There is no better way to learn about and appreciate Aboriginal culture than to experience their customs first hand. Thanks to the experts at the Didgeridoo Breath in Fremantle, you can learn to play or simply admire the beautiful range and ancient artisanship of the oldest woodwind instrument in the world. Sometimes described as a natural wooden trumpet, the didgeridoo was originally made from a eucalyptus branch already hollowed out by termite activity. You will still find the same handmade traditions in tact at the Didgeridoo Breath, some dot painted and others varnished to enhance the natural contours of the wood. Filled with handmade wooden boomerangs, bark paintings, woodcarvings and a range of books to pour over; you can opt to take a piece of their culture home with you.
Visit the Statue of Yagan at Heirisson Island
Once a group of mudflats named Matagarup or “leg deep” by the Nyungah people of Western Australia, Heirisson Island is now home to the statue of Yagan. A hero in Nyungah culture, Yagan was a key part of the Aboriginal resistance to white settlers in 1831. Wanted dead or alive, Yagan’s life ended under the hand of young settler William Keats, but his legacy remains strong, as his statue lays witness to many Aboriginal political gatherings held there in recent years. On a normal day Heirisson Island is a beautiful spot for a picnic on the grass, a fish off the rocks and a jog or cycle along the water. If you’re lucky you might spot a kangaroo just minutes away from the city, with the unique backdrop of the Perth skyline.
Cycle to the Mosaic at Windan Bridge
Just 11 minutes by bike from Heirisson Island, you can continue your journey taking the scenic route along the Swan River until you reach Windan Bridge. Featuring a colourful tile mosaic created in 1999 by members of the Nyungah community, the bridge was named after Windan, the wife of Yellagonga, head of the Whadjuk Nyungah, who was buried at the site. There you can find a plaque detailing their story of Windan and Yellagonga and their life on the Swan River as leaders of the Whadjuk Nyungah people.
Indigenous Tour, Kings Park, Open 1.30pm-3pm and 3.30pm-5pm Monday to Friday
Kings Park is over four square kilometers of beautiful parkland perched high on the western side of the central business district of Perth. There you will find a beautiful vantage point to look out over the city and sprawling botanic gardens, where suits come for a jog after work and many others lounge on their picnic mats with cheese and wine. Kings Park offers an Indigenous tour, where you can learn to identify medicinal plants, bushfood and learn about the methods responsible for an estimated 40,000 years worth of survival. The tour departs from the Indigenous Tour signpost at the Edge of Whadjuk car park in Kings Park.
The Aboriginal Art and Craft Gallery, Kings Park, Open 10.30am-4.30pm Monday to Friday and 11am-4pm Weekends
Under the lookout on Fraser Avenue in Kings Park, you will find a humble sized gallery filled to the brim with Aboriginal art, keeping the legacy of the oldest ongoing tradition of art in the world alive. Showcasing a selection of works both old and new, from local and regional artists, many of whom originate from the Utopia region in Alice Springs. Each piece has a unique story depicting the dreamtime or the Aboriginal lifestyle; from women’s ceremonies to hunting scenes. The gallery attendants are a wealth of knowledge and are a great source for learning about the influences and stories behind the beautiful array of Aboriginal dot paintings, sculptures and carvings. The paintings range between $300 and $15,000 for those looking to brighten up the living room and for those in need of a postcard or a souvenir, there is a large selection of smaller, more suitcase friendly purchases.