A lot of people might be broadly aware of Australia’s Aboriginal history but the mistake is in considering it just that: history. The spiritual practices of our first peoples are still part of their daily lives in 2016, and through Splendour Tailored Tours you’ll get a glimpse into the world’s oldest continuous culture, as it is lived, not how you imagine it to be.
Prepare to get up early because you’ll be meeting Aboriginal elder Aunty Margaret Campbell under the pylons of the Harbour Bridge for a welcome to country and to acknowledge the ‘grandfather sun’. Aunty Marg’s stories will transport you a time and place before colonization, when people could watch the whales from the lookout that existed long before the bridge and bring their fish to the cooking fires built on the same sandstone they used as a foundation for Sydney.
Cross the harbour and visit an ancient rock carving that tells origin stories about the world and its people. If the stone carving of a whale can last 60,000 years, you can get through next week. Aunty Marg will teach you about traditional practices, from shaping canoes to making fishing nets, and about the modern responsibilities of the elders in today’s society. This is not a history lesson, it’s a snapshot of how we got here and where we’re going.
After a visit to the Botanic Gardens your adventure will end with lunch at the Gardener’s Lodge Café where you will feast on emu skewers, kangaroo burgers and crocodile salad (trust us, it’s delicious). The café is co-owned by another famed Sydney elder, Beryl Van-Oploo, who created the café as a place for her hospitality students to gain work skills. This is an all access pass to a culture that moves alongside Sydney’s metropolitan rhythms. Accessing historical artifacts and art from our First Peoples is relatively easy in Sydney thanks to permanent exhibits at the Australian Museum and the AGNSW, but a guided tour through the cultural practices of Aboriginal Australians is a rare privilege.
Whether you're visiting from overseas or a curious local looking to get beyond the basics (Dot paintings? Bark paintings? Just the tip of the iceberg), these are the places to see the best of Australia's diverse Indigenous art practice.