Deeply connect with Australia and see the country through the eyes of its first inhabitants. Create truly memorable itineraries with an Aboriginal flavor. The world’s oldest living culture delivers a diversity of exclusive experiences. Explore pristine remote beaches, lush rainforests, hidden waterfalls, the rugged outback and spectacular gorges.
Check out the range of experiences offered by the Indigenous Tourism Champions. These ‘must-do’ Aboriginal experiences have been carefully selected as some of Australia’s best by Tourism Australia and the State Tourism Organizations. Enrich your itineraries and bring the Australian landscape to life by incorporating Aboriginal guides and experiences.
There are many magical and unique experiences to enjoy in Australia. But for a holiday that really is the best of both worlds, you simply can’t go past having a knowledgeable Aboriginal guide showing you a side of Australia you wouldn’t otherwise see.
In fact, in some cases you’ll literally be given access to areas that remain closed to regular tourists. Whether you’re an adventure seeker, cultural enthusiast, foody or nature lover, you’ll benefit from the knowledge and insights an Aboriginal Guide can provide.
Search an exciting array of accommodation, activities and tours with options to taste bush tucker, experience the healing powers of nature, discover breathtaking scenery, ancient rock art galleries, meet artists or take an art workshop yourself to gain a first-hand insight into the creation of contemporary Aboriginal art.
You can even stay with an Aboriginal family where people still practice elements of traditional lifestyles. For the truly adventurous, there’s expeditions over land or sea to catch fish and mud crab, share stories around the crackling fire and camp on the beach under the abundant canopy of stars.
Australia is the sixth largest country in the world. It's about the same size as the 48 mainland states of the USA and 50 per cent larger than Europe, but has the lowest population density in the world - only two people per square kilometer.
Australia’s coastline stretches almost 50,000 kilometers and is linked by over 10,000 beaches, more than any other country in the world. More than 85 per cent of Australians live within 50 kilometers of the coast, making it an integral part of their laid-back lifestyle.
Australia is the only nation to govern an entire continent and its outlying islands. The mainland is the largest island and the world’s smallest, flattest continent.
Aboriginal People Dream on a Timeless Continent
Australia’s Aboriginal people were thought to have arrived there by boat from South East Asia during the last Ice Age, at least 50,000 years ago. At the time of European discovery and settlement, up to one million Aboriginal people lived across the continent as hunters and gatherers. They were scattered in 300 clans and spoke 250 languages and 700 dialects. Each clan had a spiritual connection with a specific piece of land. However, they also travelled widely to trade, find water and seasonal produce and for ritual and totemic gatherings.
Despite the diversity of their homelands - from outback deserts and tropical rainforests to snow-capped mountains – all Aboriginal people share a belief in the timeless, magical realm of the Dreamtime. According to Aboriginal myth, totemic spirit ancestors forged all aspects of life during the Dreamtime of the world’s creation. These spirit ancestors continue to connect natural phenomena, as well as past, present and future through every aspect of Aboriginal culture.
Britain Arrives and Brings its Convicts
A number of European explorers sailed the coast of Australia, then known as New Holland, in the 17th century. However it wasn’t until 1770 that Captain James Cook chartered the east coast and claimed it for Britain. The new outpost was put to use as a penal colony and on 26 January 1788, the First Fleet of 11 ships carrying 1,500 people – half of them convicts – arrived in Sydney Harbour. Until penal transportation ended in 1868, 160,000 men and women came to Australia as convicts.
While free settlers began to flow in from the early 1790s, life for prisoners was harsh. Women were outnumbered five to one and lived under constant threat of sexual exploitation. Male re-offenders were brutally flogged and could be hung for crimes as petty as stealing. The Aboriginal people displaced by the new settlement suffered even more. The dispossession of land and illness and death from introduced diseases disrupted traditional lifestyles and practices.
Squatters Push Across the Continent
By the 1820s, many soldiers, officers and emancipated convicts had turned land they received from the government into flourishing farms. News of Australia’s cheap land and bountiful work was bringing more and more boatloads of adventurous migrants from Britain. Settlers or ‘squatters’ began to move deeper into Aboriginal territories – often with a gun - in search of pasture and water for their stock.
In 1825, a party of soldiers and convicts settled in the territory of the Yuggera people, close to modern-day Brisbane. Perth was settled by English gentlemen in 1829, and 1835 a squatter sailed to Port Phillip Bay and chose the location for Melbourne. At the same time a private British company, proud to have no convict links, settled Adelaide in South Australia.
Gold Fever Brings Wealth, Migrants and Rebellion
Gold was discovered in New South Wales and central Victoria in 1851, luring thousands of young men and some adventurous young women from the colonies. They were joined by boat loads of prospectors from China and a chaotic carnival of entertainers, publicans, illicit liquor-sellers, prostitutes and quacks from across the world. In Victoria, the British governor’s attempts to impose order - a monthly license and heavy-handed troopers - led to the bloody anti-authoritarian struggle of the Eureka stockade in 1854. Despite the violence on the goldfields, the wealth from gold and wool brought immense investment to Melbourne and Sydney and by the 1880s they were stylish modern cities.
Australia Becomes a Nation
Australia’s six states became a nation under a single constitution on 1 January 1901. Today Australia is home to people from more than 200 countries.
Australians Go to War
The First World War had a devastating effect on Australia. There were less than 3 million men in 1914, yet almost 400,000 of them volunteered to fight in the war. An estimated 60,000 died and tens of thousands were wounded. In reaction to the grief, the 1920s was a whirlwind of new cars and cinemas, American jazz and movies and fervor for the British Empire. When the Great Depression hit in 1929, social and economic divisions widened and many Australian financial institutions failed. Sport was the national distraction and sporting heroes such as the racehorse Phar Lap and cricketer Donald Bradman gained near-mythical status.
During the Second World War, Australian forces made a significant contribution to the Allied victory in Europe, Asia and the Pacific. The generation that fought in the war and survived came out of it with a sense of pride in Australia’s capabilities.
New Australians Arrive to a Post-War Boom
After the war ended in 1945, hundreds of thousands of migrants from across Europe and the Middle East arrived in Australia, many finding jobs in the booming manufacturing sector. Many of the women who took factory jobs while the men were at war continued to work during peacetime.
Australia’s economy grew throughout the 1950s with major nation-building projects such as the Snowy Mountains Hydroelectric Scheme in the mountains near Canberra. International demand grew for Australia’s major exports of metals, wools, meat and wheat and suburban Australia also prospered. The rate of home ownership rose dramatically from barely 40 per cent in 1947 to more than 70 per cent by the 1960s.
Australia Loosens Up
Like many other countries, Australia was swept up in the revolutionary atmosphere of the 1960s. Australia’s new ethnic diversity, increasing independence from Britain and popular resistance to the Vietnam War all contributed to an atmosphere of political, economic and social change. In 1967, Australians voted overwhelmingly ‘yes’ in a national referendum to let the federal government make laws on behalf of Aboriginal Australians and include them in future censuses. The result was the culmination of a strong reform campaign by both Aboriginal and white Australians.
In 1972, the Australian Labor Party under the idealistic leadership of lawyer Gough Whitlam was elected to power, ending the post-war domination of the Liberal and Country Party coalition. Over the next three years, his new government ended conscription, abolished university fees and introduced free universal health care. It abandoned the White Australia policy, embraced multiculturalism and introduced no-fault divorce and equal pay for women. However by 1975, inflation and scandal led to the Governor-General dismissing the government. In the subsequent general election, the Labor Party suffered a major defeat and the Liberal–National Coalition ruled until 1983.
Since the 1970s
Between 1983 and 1996, the Hawke–Keating Labor governments introduced a number of economic reforms, such as deregulating the banking system and floating the Australian dollar. In 1996 a Coalition Government led by John Howard won the general election and was re-elected in 1998, 2001 and 2004. The Liberal–National Coalition Government enacted several reforms, including changes in the taxation and industrial relations systems. In 2007 the Labor Party led by Kevin Rudd was elected with an agenda to reform Australia’s industrial relations system, climate change policies, and health and education sectors.
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The iconic kangaroo is unique to Australia and one of their most easily recognized mammals. There are an estimated 40 million kangaroos in Australia, more than when Australia was first settled.
Australia developed a unique fauna when it broke away from the super-continent Gondwana more than 50 million years ago. Today Australia is home to a wealth of wildlife not found anywhere else in the world. They have around 800 species of birds, half of which are unique to their country. The marine environments contain more than 4,000 fish varieties and tens of thousands of species of invertebrates, plants and micro-organisms. About 80 per cent of Australia's southern marine species are found nowhere else in the world.
Australia also supports at least 25,000 species of plants, compared to 17,500 in Europe. That includes living fossils like the Wollemi pine and the grass tree, and brilliant wildflowers. There are over 12,000 species in Western Australia alone!