9 Indigenous Experiences to Enjoy in Canberra
As the seat of the government of Australia, Canberra is home to many important institutions of the federal government, national monuments and museums. But Australia’s history extends far beyond 1788, when the first fleet of new arrivals set foot on the sands of Botany Bay. In fact, Australian Aboriginal Culture is the oldest continuous culture on this planet.
Indigenous people have lived on this land for at least 65,00 years. Over this time they have lived through great climatic changes and adapted successfully to the changing physical environment. Indigenous heritage spans many different communities, each with its own unique mixture of cultures, customs and languages and as Australia’s great storytellers, Indigenous people pass on their cultures through an animist belief system expressed through songs, stories, paintings and dance.
Want to truly understand the creation of the nation’s capital and discover more about Australia’s Indigenous history? Be sure to include an Indigenous experience when planning a tour of Canberra. There’s a whole host of cultural activities to choose from…
Half Day Cultural Tour
Dharwra Tours (3.5 hours)
Take a driving tour with Dharwra Tours and visit several important locations that show abundant evidence of Aboriginal occupation in the Canberra area. From bush food sites in Red Hill to “grinding grooves” in Theodore, there’s plenty to see. At the end of the tour there’s a refreshment stop at the Lanyon Homestead cafe, one of Australia’s premier historic properties.
First Australians: Gallery of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples
The National Museum of Australia
The permanent First Australians: Gallery of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples exhibition at the National Museum of Australia explores the shared stories and experience of Australia’s first peoples. Take a journey from ancient to contemporary expressions of culture and get to know the connectedness of communities whose diverse cultures are determined by diverse environments.
If you want to take your journey further, book in for a First Australians Indigenous Tour and be welcomed by the local Ngunawal, Ngunnawal and Ngambri peoples. Using interactives devices and sensory displays you will hear stories of the local landscape and appreciate the diversity of communities and the enduring attachments to the country.
Indigenous Experiences Tour
Hear the stories of the Indigenous parliamentarians and staff and explore the site history of Parliament House with an Indigenous Experiences Tour. Gain insights into how Australia’s First Peoples are participating in the nation’s democratic processes and enjoy significant artworks from the Parliament House Art Collection by celebrated Indigenous artists.
Burrunju Art Gallery
Burrunju Aboriginal Corporation
Burrunju Aboriginal Corporation was established in 2006 to provide local Aboriginal people with an opportunity to realise their dream of self-determination by providing an avenue to sell art. The Burrunju Art Gallery is open 10am to 4pm Monday to Saturday and offers a range of carving, glassworks and paintings from over 35 Indigenous artists.
Dharwra Tours (2 hours)
Mount Majura, part of the Canberra National Park, lies on the north-eastern edge of the city. At 888 metres and covered in eucalypt trees, it’s an important place for Aboriginal people. Book a Mount Majura tour today and learn about the wide range of wildlife that lives on the mountain, identify and sample bush foods, discover a “scar tree”, and learn about the traditional uses of various tools. The view of Mount Majura valley is spectacular too.
Namadgi National Park 4WD Tour
Dharwra Tours (Full Day)
If you’ve got a bit more time to spare, consider taking a full-day 4WD tour through Namadgi National Park, which makes up almost half the entire land area of the Australian Capital Territory. Namadgi is the Ngunawal name for the mountains to the south-west of Canberra and Aboriginal occupation of the area has been dated to at least 21,000 years. Forage for bush foods, spot wallabies, emus, kangaroos and other wildlife, visit the “Yankee Hat” rock art site and hear many cultural stories.
Indigenous Cultural Tour
The National Gallery of Australia
Explore the picturesque gardens of the National Gallery of Australia with a local Aboriginal guide and learn about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture through a welcome to country, bush tucker foraging, smoking ceremony, sounds of the didgeridoo and participatory art and craft practice. Discover the designs, patterns and stories of Indigenous Australians through the largest collection of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander art in the world. Minimum booking is for 20 people and tours last from 90 – 120 minutes dependent on the cultural elements selected.
Aboriginal Dreamings Gallery
Gold Creek Village
Aboriginal Dreamings Gallery is a must-see destination for Aboriginal art collectors and is open on Saturday and Sundays from 11am – 4pm or by appointment. It offers an extensive collection of ethically sourced original Aboriginal art and includes important works by Rover Thomas, Emily Kame Kngwarreye, Turkey Tolson Tjupurrula and more. You can also find quality gifts and jewellery for sale.
National Multicultural Festival
Various locations in February
The National Multicultural Festival began in 1996 and has since evolved to become one of Canberra’s biggest occasions. Over three days in February you can celebrate cultural diversity across Australia with food and drink, entertainment, stalls and a colourful, vibrant parade. In 2019, over 300 stalls packed between Akuna Street and East Row and 150 acts performed across six stages, showcasing cultural exchange from the United States, India, Greece, Africa, the Pacific, Celtic and Australia.
After a wonderful time experiencing and discovering the rich Indigenous culture of Australia, you will need a place to dine and unwind. At Marketplace Gungahlin, we have a number of popular and mouth-watering dining options available to visit every day of the week! Check out our dining options today.