Tourists are asked to respect Indigenous cultural history

Eleni Curry

Tourists are asked to respect Indigenous cultural history

Uluru isn't the only place where tourists are asked to respect Indigenous cultural history

Posted on 26.09.2019

Well-publicised pleas from traditional owners to stay off Uluru help to ensure that more than 80 per cent of tourists stick to selfies and champagne at the base of the sacred rock.

And while Uluru tourism will change in October when a ban on climbing the monolith takes effect, there remains many locations across the country attracting crowds despite calls from local Indigenous people to stay away.

Two significant sites in Queensland are …

The Blue Hole, Queensland

The Blue Hole is a popular swimming spot in the Daintree rainforest north of Cairns.

It’s also a significant women’s place for the Kuku Yalanji people — men are not allowed to visit, and women must be invited to the area.

Like Wollumbin, a sign at the start of the access track advises visitors that traditional owners prefer they do not swim in the pool.

Instead, take a guided Dreamtime walk of the Mossman Gorge; visitors learn about local stories, visit traditional bark shelters and experience a smoking ceremony.

There are also several self-guided walks through the national park, including croc-free places to take a dip and cool off.

Kalkajaka, Queensland

Known as Australia’s very own Bermuda Triangle due to stories of people and livestock disappearing, Kalkajaka (Black Mountain) is considered a no-go zone by traditional owner groups.

In local Indigenous history, Kalkajaka was a sacred battlefield and some now believe it has a dark force.

“For me, it’s a sacred site and no-one is allowed to go to that area,” said local Kuku Nyungkal woman Aunty Marie Shipton.

“If they do, they will get very, very sick.

“I feel bad about it … they’re heading straight into bad vibes there.”

Instead, visitors could make the 3km trek up Mount Cook, which overlooks Cooktown and its picturesque coastline, including the Great Barrier Reef.

Be sure to keep an eye out for monitors, amethystine pythons and quolls.

Indigenous footprints everywhere

This list is by no means exhaustive, but it’s a good place to start if you’re keen to explore Australia in a culturally sensitive way.

In her book Welcome to Country: A Travel Guide to Indigenous Australia, Marcia Langton offers an extensive guidebook for respectfully travelling Indigenous Australia.

“The Indigenous footprint can be found across the Australian continent and its islands, but it is often invisible until it is pointed out. Once you see the evidence of Aboriginal life, a whole new world opens up.”

Professor Langton notes that traditional owners make ideal travel guides, given their extensive and historical knowledge of the country.

By joining an Indigenous-run tour or enlisting an Indigenous guide, travellers will also be giving back to communities where there may be few opportunities for work.

It will also help invest in the preservation of the world’s oldest living culture.

Websites for state national parks often note if areas are culturally significant as well as any wishes local custodians may have about your time spent in an area.

Nicolle White
ABC News





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