Some visitors might only associate the beauty of Indigenous Australia with the red sands of ‘the outback’. However, far from remote, the Sydney region is a vastly rich area in which to explore the identity of our first peoples. This year’s NAIDOC Week theme is We all stand on sacred ground: learn, respect, celebrate. Following on from this theme, we take a look at some of Sydney’s hidden Aboriginal gems where you can learn about, respect and celebrate the heritage of our Aboriginal Australians from the past and present to the future.
For a meaningful and memorable experience we highlight a number of Aboriginal-owned and guided, social enterprise-driven and ethical experiences where you can learn more whilst contributing directly to initiatives that respect and support the capacity of Aboriginal peoples.
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people should be aware that this website may contain images or names of people who have since passed away.
1)The BLAK Markets
Cross the bridge to Bare Island in Botany Bay Kamay National Park on the first Sunday of the month to be part of diverse Aboriginal cultural activities at The BLAK Markets. Experience a traditional smoking ceremony and Welcome to Country, taste the bush-tucker infused meals, admire Indigenous crafts and designs, and watch music and dance performance. In depth workshops offer learning from crafts and spear making, to fishing and the uses of native plants and artefacts.
2) Bangarra Dance Theatre
The internationally renown Bangarra Dance Theatre takes audiences on a journey of connection through deep spiritual storytelling, impressive technique and captivating performance. Bangarra fuses traditional dance with contemporary movement to share the unique stories of respected community Elders. Book performances in Sydney or NSW regions throughout the year directly from the venue.
3) Aboriginal Heritage Track,Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park
With over 800 Indigenous sites, Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park is a significant place to explore the richness of our Aboriginal heritage. Reflect on the world view of the Guringai Nation on the Aboriginal Heritage Walk, as it guides you to rock art at Red Hands Cave, rock engravings and historic shelters among the beautiful surrounds.
Details: This walk is a 4.5km loop so it’s suggested to allow 2.5 hours to complete.
Cost: The walk is free, but National Park Entry Fees apply.
Don’t miss: See human and animal life through the eyes of the Garrigal people of the Guringai Nation at the Basin Aboriginal art site. Located close to the Aboriginal Heritage Walk, the Basin track detours to one of the most significant examples of rock engravings.
4) Muru Mittigar Aboriginal Cultural and Education Centre
At the base of the Blue Mountains lies a unique opportunity to uncover the history, culture and arts of traditional custodians, the Darug people. Share the imagination of the Darug people at the Muru Mittigar Aboriginal Cultural and Education Centre’s gallery of works and learn from guides about Aboriginal culture, Darug identity and the stories of Darug ancestors.
Don’t miss: didgeridoos sourced exclusively from NSW groups in the retail shop.
Opening hours: Monday-Friday, 9.00am-4.00pm. Bookings available on weekends
5) Boomalli Aborignal Artists Co-operative
Tucked away in the inner west at 5km from the CBD, one of Australia’s longest running Aboriginal-owned and operated galleries, Boomalli, invites visitors to share in ‘contemporary Indigenous cultural expression’. Boomalli’s gallery provides a window into the diversity of Aboriginal identity through innovative, distinct art that goes beyond traditional approaches.