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NAIDOC Week: 18 Ways to Celebrate Across Australia

From tour experiences to art appreciation, these are the best ways to celebrate Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples this NAIDOC Week.

Bunjilaka Aboriginal Cultural Centre (Photo credit: Tourism Australia)
Bunjilaka Aboriginal Cultural Centre (Photo credit: Tourism Australia)

Celebrated annually, the first full week of July marks NAIDOC Week. From 4th-11th July, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture, history and achievements will be celebrated across the country. This year the theme is 'Heal Country', and seeks to honour Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, and celebrate the world's oldest continuous living culture and its stories.

Looking for ways to engage and get involved in NAIDOC Week? Tourism Australia has a great round-up of events and experiences, and we have a few of them to share with you below.

NAIDOC Week: Australia

Watch the Premiere of History Bites Back

History Bites Back is directed, written and presented by Trisha Morton-Thomas (Occupation Native, The Song Keepers, Total Control) alongside Craig Anderson (Black Comedy, Occupation Native, Red Christmas), and starring Steven Oliver (Black Comedy, Faboriginal, Looky Looky, Here Comes Cooky) and Elaine Crombie (Nowhere Boys, Top End Wedding, Top of the Lake). The cast comes together to bite back at negative social media comments and steer the conversation towards the historical context of the fortunes and misfortunes of Indigenous Australians – from social security, citizenship and equal wages to nuclear bombs and civil actions.

Sunday 11th July. from 8:30pm

NITV and SBS Viceland

Listen to the Uluru Statement from the Heart on SBS Radio

SBS Radio - in consultation with the Uluru Dialogue, Indigenous Law Centre UNSW - is sharing the Uluru Statement from the Heart in various languages. For the first time, it will be shared in more than 20 Aboriginal languages, from communities in the Northern Territory and from Northern Western Australia, as part of the Uluru Statement from the Heart in Your Language podcast collection which also includes the Statement translated and read aloud in more than 60 languages from Australia’s culturally and linguistically diverse communities,  and which will continue to grow as a unique and important resource for all Australians as more First Nations languages are translated.

In addition to this audio collection, this year SBS Radio is also sharing the Statement, translated across the extensive selection of languages, as videos, and is also providing a video in Auslan (Australian Sign Language) to support the inclusion of Australians who are deaf or hard of hearing, in the dialogue.

NAIDOC Week: NSW

Unsettled, The Australian Museum (Photo credit: Anna Kucera)
Unsettled, The Australian Museum (Photo credit: Anna Kucera)
New First Nations Exhibition at the Australian Museum (Gadigal Land)

Housing more than 40,000 Indigenous cultural objects and contemporary artworks from across the country, the Australian Museum in Sydney’s CBD boasts one of the most significant Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander collections, with brand new acquisitions featured in the groundbreaking Unsettled exhibition.

On display until 10 October 2021, this powerful exhibition features more than 80 significant cultural objects and over 100 contributions by First Nations people across the country, uncovering the untold history of Australia’s foundation, the lasting impact of colonisation and first-hand stories of devastation, survival and the fight for Indigenous sovereignty. The museum also offers the opportunity to gain a deeper understanding of Unsettled through a tour with their knowledgeable First Nations guides.

As Sydney is still in lockdown and you can't visit in person just yet, you can jump on The Australian Museum website to learn more about the exhibition and broader Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander history and culture.

Dreamtime Southern X (Photo credit: Tourism Australia)
Dreamtime Southern X (Photo credit: Tourism Australia)
Dreamtime Southern X (Gadigal Land)

Connect with Country without even leaving the city, join a 90-minute Rocks Aboriginal Dreaming Tour (Illi Langi) to learn all about Aboriginal past and present, spirituality and connections to land and water, at the place of first contact in the shadows of both the Sydney Opera House and Harbour Bridge. Ochre is smeared onto your hand at the start of the tour and you’ll learn about the role of ochre in Indigenous ceremonies and the deep relationship between Aboriginal peoples and the land, water and seasons.

NAIDOC Week: VIC

Bunjilaka Aboriginal Cultural Centre (Photo credit: Tourism Australia)
Bunjilaka Aboriginal Cultural Centre (Photo credit: Tourism Australia)
Visit the Bunjilaka Aboriginal Cultural Centre at Melbourne Museum (Eastern Kulin Land)

Containing one of the most significant Aboriginal cultural collections in the world, the museum was designed in collaboration with Aboriginal people including Melbourne’s traditional owners, the Boon wurrung and the Woi wurrung. Meaning ‘the place of Bunjil’ (the ancestral wedge-tailed eagle), a creator spirit, the centre offers an intensive, interactive and often moving immersion in Aboriginal culture, covering art, storytelling, and powerful multimedia experiences.

The Aboriginal Heritage Walk (Photo credit: Adrian Vittorio)
The Aboriginal Heritage Walk (Photo credit: Adrian Vittorio)
Take an Aboriginal Heritage Walk (Eastern Kulin Land)

In Melbourne’s oasis that is the Royal Botanic Gardens Victoria – said to be one of the world's leading botanic gardens – visitors can tour the ancestral lands of the Eastern Kulin Nation, led by an Indigenous guide on the Aboriginal Heritage Walk. Beginning with a traditional smoking ceremony, visitors will deepen their understanding of Aboriginal customs by learning about traditional uses of plants for food, tools and medicine.

NAIDOC Week: SA

Visit Tandanya (Kaurna Land)

Located in the heart of Adelaide, Tandanya is a dedicated space for the cultural expressions of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander artists. The gallery sits on Kaurna (pronounced ‘Garna’) land, and is named after the Kaurna word for ‘place of the red kangaroo.’ A range of stunning visual arts, as well as live music and performing art programs which take place throughout the year can be found there.

Head to Gemtree Wines (Kaurna Land)

GemTree Wines, based in McLaren Vale, just 33 kilometres south of Adelaide city centre, has partnered with Senior Cultural Custodian, Karl Winda Telfer of Yellaka to share Tirkandi. Karl will share his knowledge as he takes you on an inspiring journey of Culture, Connection and Country on a tour through the Gemtree Eco-trail. The experience will continue into the Gemtree Tasting Room where you will enjoy certified organic and biodynamic, a reflection of the soil from which they came - wines grounded in earth.

NAIDOC Week: QLD

Get Cultured at Birrunga Gallery & Dining (Yuggera Land)

Located in a slick basement space just five minutes’ walk from the central Queen Street Mall shopping district, this destination is a gallery, performance space, wine bar and café in one. Curated by Wiradyuri man Birrunga Wiradyuri, who is also the principal artist, the gallery houses his own haunting and thought-provoking work alongside pieces by accomplished Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander artists. Those looking to grab a bite can also get lunch at the gallery’s café, which draws on native ingredients to create bush tucker with a modern twist - think emu burgers and kangaroo steak sandwiches!

Dreamtime Dive And Snorkel (Photo credit: Tourism Australia)
Dreamtime Dive And Snorkel (Photo credit: Tourism Australia)
Dreamtime Dive & Snorkel (Yidinji Country)

Discover the Great Barrier Reef from an Aboriginal perspective on a Dreamtime Dive & Snorkel tour from Cairns, with on-board Indigenous reef rangers who work to conserve both their culture and the reef. As well as spending a generous five hours at outer reefs – where visitors can snorkel, scuba dive or admire all that underwater beauty from a glass-bottomed boat – visitors will hear reef creation stories, experience traditional dances and didgeridoo playing, and get to know not just the underwater world, but the people who call this their “sea Country”.

NAIDOC Week: ACT

National Gallery Of Australia (Photo credit: Visit Canberra)
National Gallery Of Australia (Photo credit: Visit Canberra)
Visit the National Gallery of Australia and National Museum (Ngunnawal, Ngunawal and Ngambri Land)

The National Gallery of Australia is home to the world’s largest collection of Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander art. After, visit the National Museum, where everyday at 3pm members of the local Ngunawal and Ngambri peoples host a First Australian’s Indigenous Australia Tour.

Dhawura Aboriginal Tours
Dhawura Aboriginal Tours
Book the Dhawura Aboriginal Cultural tour (Ngunnawal, Ngunawal and Ngambri Land)

Join a tour and you’ll be accompanied by a Ngunawal guide who will take you on a journey to find hidden rock art, identify historical artefacts, learn about “bush food” and traditional stone tools, and hear the stories attached to each of the significant local sites in Australia’s capital.

NAIDOC Week: NT

Dot Painting Class (Photo credit: Maruka Art)
Dot Painting Class (Photo credit: Maruka Art)
Get Arty with Walkatjara Art and Maruku Arts (Anangu Land)

Located in the Uluṟu-Kata Tjuṯa National Park Cultural Centre at the base of Uluṟu, the Walkatjara Art gallery is owned and directed by the Mutitjulu community of the Anangu people, the Traditional Owners of Uluṟu. The gallery is home to a range of vibrantly coloured creation stories painted by local artists and also offers visitors the opportunity to meet Mutitjulu artists at work in the studio. While you’re there, check out Maruku Arts, a second gallery that features works by Anangu artists of the wider Central Western Desert region. Maruku Arts offers a fun dot painting workshop that runs twice daily,  taught by a local Anangu artist - perfect for all the family!

SEIT Outback Australia
SEIT Outback Australia
Experience SEIT’s Patji tour (Anangu Land)

Feel the scale of Central Australia’s rich culture, on a SEIT’s Patji tour, named after the Aboriginal land it explores, the tour takes visitors on an exclusive off-road adventure just south of Uluṟu. Travelling through Patji by 4WD with an Aboriginal guide, expect to learn about the cultural and historical significance of the area, as well as stories passed down for generations about how the Traditional Owners survived in this desert landscape.

NAIDOC Week: WA

Borrgoron Coast to Creek Tour
Borrgoron Coast to Creek Tour
Book a Borrgoron Coast to Creek Tour (The Bardi Land and Jawi Island)

Terry Hunter’s Borrgoron Coast to Creek walking tour is a two-hour transportation into another world – one that exists parallel to our own, yet is unknown to most non-Indigenous people. Exploring mangrove-rich landscape surrounding Cygnet Bay Pearl Farm, where red earth and saltwater meet, reveals as much about Terry’s day-to-day life as it does his Aboriginal culture and the local pearling trade his family has been part of for four generations.

Koomal Dreaming
Koomal Dreaming
Experience Koomal Dreaming (Noongar Land)

South-west of Perth, in the Margaret River wine region Josh Whiteland of Koomal Dreaming likes to combine culture and place with his enlightening experiences; he plays didgeridoo inside the spectacular Ngilgi Cave amphitheatre, he walks through bush in search of medicinal plants, he demonstrates traditional fire making, he guides walks along the breathtaking Cape to Cape track or takes people fishing for salmon, herring and bream inside stunning Meelup Regional Park. With tours beginning again in late spring 2021, it’s a fascinatingly different way to experience a region best known for exceptional wine.

NAIDOC Week: TAS

Wukalina Bay Of Fires Walk (Photo credit: Stu Gibson)
Wukalina Bay Of Fires Walk (Photo credit: Stu Gibson)
Wukalina Walk

An absolute must when it comes to things to do in Tasmania, Wukalina Walk is a one-of-a-kind experience in North East Tasmania. Discover the palawa (Tasmanian Aboriginal) culture first-hand in this three-night, four-day guided walk through larapuna (Bay of Fires) and wukalina (Mt William), the cultural homeland of the palawa. The palawa guides will take you on a journey in the footsteps of their traditional people, hear creation stories, participate in cultural practices, and sleep in palawa inspired domed huts.

Tasmanian Museum & Art Gallery
Tasmanian Museum & Art Gallery
ningina tunapri at Tasmanian Museum & Art Gallery (palawa and pakana Land)

Meaning ‘to give knowledge and understanding’, the ningina tunapri Tasmanian Aboriginal gallery in Hobart houses an exhibition which explores the journey of Tasmanian Aboriginal peoples and is a celebration of all Tasmanian Aboriginal generations. Visitors are sure to have a rich, enlightening and inspiring experience while learning about Tasmanian Aboriginal peoples, past and present.