From tours that take you to previously restricted bushland to self-guided, inner city augmented reality apps that show you what life was like before European settlement in Australia – these Aboriginal led and operated businesses share knowledge and history that dates back thousands of years. Find more walks in Sydney or explore our harbour islands.
Indigenous walks and tours
This multimedia Aboriginal cultural experience uses modern technology to tell stories of the world’s oldest living culture. Go on an adventure of discovery at Barangaroo Reserve using a free augmented reality app that unlocks the meaning behind five new engravings carved into rock by Aboriginal Elders. The engravings act as a key to unlock five short films depicting the life cycles of the sun, moon and women. The piece was created by artists Genevieve Grieves and Amanda Jane Reynolds. The app is free to download from iTunes or Google Play.
Hosted by local Indigenous Elder Aunty Marg, this guided tour begins under the pylons of the Harbour Bridge for an early morning Welcome to Country and to acknowledge the ‘grandfather sun’. Visitors will see historic rock engraving and sacred Dreamtime sights around Sydney and learn how Aboriginal people lived and how their cultural connection is maintained today. After a visit to the Botanic Gardens, your adventure will end with lunch where you’ll feast on emu skewers, kangaroo burgers and crocodile salad (trust us, it’s delicious).
Sharing the knowledge and culture of the Gumbaynggirr people, Unkya offer tours at Scotts Head and Gaagal Wanggan National Park on the mid north coast. Visitors learn about the creation story of the ocean and the historical significance of the area. You’ll be shown traditional fish traps and hunting techniques on the 1.5-hour Gurruuka Juun (Whale Tail) Tour as you stroll along Little Beach and Scotts Head Deadland. The 3.5-hour Gaagal Wanggaan National Park tour takes you through varying ecosystems within the park where you will taste traditional bush tucker, engage in the ceremonies and language of the Gumbaynggir people and learn about medicinal uses for native plants.
Run by Wiradjuri man Mark Saddler, Bundyi bus tours take visitors on cultural immersion excursions in the Riverina, near Wagga Wagga in southern NSW. With half-day, full-day and overnight tours on offer, Saddler introduces you to bush tucker, Wiradjuri language and culture, and demonstrates how important cultural tools were made. Deep dive into the oldest culture on earth through Dreaming stories and visiting cultural sites across the region.
Take a trip up to Coffs Harbour for a stand-up paddleboard adventure in Gumbaynggirr country. Waajana Yaam Adventure Tours offer 2.5-hour SUP tours of the Solitary Islands Marine Park where you can connect to ocean and earth with descendants of the world’s first stand-up paddle boarders. Taste some bush tucker, learn the Gumbaynggirr language, try your hand at making some bush medicines and snorkel with the more than 500 species of fish that live in the pristine waters of the marine park. No SUP experience is necessary as guides provide instruction before the tour.
Come for a walk with Kadoo Tours and Aboriginal Elder Tim Ella of the Yuin-Dharawal nation. These tours provide an educational and authentic insight into traditional culture at Watsons Bay in Sydney Harbour National Park and at La Perouse in the Kamay Botany Bay National Park. Transporting you back 80,000 years, Ella helps visitors immerse themselves in the ancient Indigenous past while learning the traditional uses of plants and animals for food, medicine and ceremony. Guests will get to try bush tucker and partake in an ochre ceremony and a Welcome to Country.
For something a little different, head along to this 1.5-hour Aboriginal culture tour and sand boarding quad bike ride atop the Stockton sand dunes, located two hours north of Sydney. Following a roller coaster-like ride over the sand dunes, visitors will get a 360-degree view of the lands and insight into the traditional occupation and uses of the land, presented by an Aboriginal guide. You’ll learn about the current tenures of the landscape and the hopes and aspirations of the locals. Afterwards, visitors will be taken to fresh water lagoons and midden (tool and burial) sites and get to try sand boarding.
Guringai guided tours run in the heart of Ku-Ring-Gai Chase National Park in northern Sydney and cover Aboriginal sites within this historic park. Learn how traditional styles of art were created over generations, visit the park’s sacred sites and rock engravings, and hear the stories Aboriginal ancestors passed on in this four-hour tour run by Guringai descendant Laurie Brimson and Yuin descendant Les Mcleod. Opt for the barbecue lunch inclusion which includes grilled kangaroo, emu and fish alongside damper with honey or golden syrup.
This tour lets visitors experience the Wiradjuri and Kamilaroi/Gamilaraay country found in the beautiful central west and northwest regions of NSW. Catering for groups of 14 to 25 people, this educational tour is run by traditional land custodian Peter Peckham who shares stories of the area and its people, while visiting the scarred canoe tree, an axe grinding site and discovering classic bush tucker and medicinal plants. Overnight tours can be arranged too.
Experience the Awaba/Darkinjung country with this immersive tour run by Bara Barang, an Aboriginal Central Coast corporation that provides programs, events, training and services to Aboriginal communities. Across two tours, guides take visitors through scenic beaches and lookout points, including ancient rock engraving sites. This is an opportunity to gain a greater understanding and appreciation for the traditions, customs and beliefs of local Aboriginal people on the Central Coast.
Explore under water
Where are these great snorkelling spots? To find out, we enlisted the help of the good people at Snorkel Safari, who run scuba-diving courses and snorkel trips from several locations across the city. They gave us their picks of the five best places to bury your face in the water in Sydney, from a strange little island in La Perouse to Shelly Beach at Manly.