Here in Australia, we’re fortunate to have one of the oldest and richest cultures in the world. If you haven’t yet explored our beautiful backyard with a First Nations tour guide or travel company, you’re seriously missing out.
Sometimes the hardest part is finding out which tour operators are truly owned and operated by Australia’s First Nations people, but not anymore. Launching this Wednesday, 2 December is Welcome to Country, Australia's first not-for-profit online marketplace for Indigenous tourism experiences and products.
Aiming to empower Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Tourism operators and communities, Welcome to Country will link up holidaymakers with incredible and authentic Indigenous experiences.
“All Australians should be proud to live in a country with a culture which is in the truest sense of the word, unique. At Welcome to Country, we want to encourage and assist local and international travellers, when they return to our shores, to explore aspects of Australia they may not have experienced before, to give them a true historic and authentic cultural connection,” says former Australian Tourism CEO and Welcome to Country Board member John Morse.
Jason Eades, the CEO of Welcome to Country, added, “We already have 87 exceptional immersive experiences, including Indigenous art, cultural performances and talks, food gathering, dining and wine tasting activities, as well as adventures, including epic walks, quad bikes and scuba diving, as well as sharing stories around campfires.”
The Welcome to Country site also features more than 1,000 beautifully and authentically crafted Aboriginal and Torres Strait products in their online marketplace. Even better? Every purchase made through the site supports Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.
The launch of this epic new travel platform will kick off with a free virtual event directed by Rhoda Roberts AO, a proud Bundjalung woman of the Widjabul clan of Northern NSW and South East QLD.
Following the official launch ceremony there will be 17 online cultural, art and travel events that will run over six days from 3 to 8 December, highlighting unique and new experiences from adventure to cultural immersion.
You can expect though-provoking conversations addressing with an impressive lineup of speakers including: award-winning writer of the bestseller Dark Emu, Bruce Pascoe; Joe Williams, a proud Wiradjuri man and former NRL player and boxer; Professor Marcia Langton, an academic and descendant of the Yiman and Bidjara nations; and Victor Steffensen, a Tagalaka descendant and Indigenous land management and traditional fire practice expert.
Some highlights we’re pumped for include: travelling virtually to the NT and experiencing the top end with Graham Kenyon at a beautiful billabong, talking about creation stories, bush medicine and he'll even show you how to throw a spear. And you can join Delta Kay, a Arakwal woman, on a bush tucker walk around Byron Bay where you’ll learn about the incredibly diverse range of edible fruits, roots, nuts, seeds and leaves growing naturally in the Australian bush.
Speaking about the impressive line-up of virtual events, Roberts added, “A First Nations’ travel experience is much more than capturing a picture of ancient landscapes across our vast continent. There is also the depth of listening, witnessing the diversity of cultures, the mystery of rituals, foods, language song and story.”
“Country gets under your skin, be it through the unexplainable pleasure of gazing at a thousand stars or watching the tides that have travelled thousands of miles, hearing age old stories that have been told for tens of thousands of years. There is nothing quite like the sense of being welcomed and knowing this is also your place, where everything is connected.”
Head here to register for the virtual launch and check out the Welcome to Country events online.
While you're at it, support Indigenous businesses this year with this First Nation's Christmas gift guide.
Image Credit: Tourism NT/Felix Baker