There's never a bad time for exploring and learning about our rich, thousands-of-years-old Indigenous Culture here in Australia. A quick yet scenic drive will land you at some of the most gorgeous locations in the country where you can unplug from the hustle and bustle of city, immerse yourself in the rich cultural history of the local custodians of the land and even support some First-Nations owned businesses.
Here are the best bunch of epic Indigenous culture destinations to visit around Melbourne.
The word “Narana”, means to deeply listen and understand, meaning you take in and give out. Narana Creations is a not-for-profit organisation that provides an educational and tourism focussed destination committed to offering an introduction to today's Indigenous culture—and it's just a hop, skip and a jump off the Surf Coast Highway. Narana Creations is a member of the Victorian Tourism Hall of Fame and has a cafe that heroes indigenous ingredients—take it from us and go for the wattleseed scones with jam and cream. Check out the gallery and the Narana shop, and book into a cultural education sesh where you’ll learn about Australia’s Indigenous Culture, connection to the land, spirituality, laws, cultural designs, Dreaming stories, and more. You can book your spot here.
You Yangs Regional Park
In the traditional Country of the Wadawurrung People, the You Yangs Regional Park is a mecca for any nature lover. Expect unreal views, birdlife galore and some of the best walking tracks around, as well as panoramic views out to Melbourne from atop Flinders Peak and Big Rock. There are also over 50 kilometres of purpose-built mountain bike trails for both beginners and experts, and you can even actually climb Flinders Peak. If you aren't channelling some Bear Grylls energy, there are nine designated picnic areas to sit back and take in the boulder-strewn landscape. Best bit? It's only an hour away from Melbourne.
Worn Gundidj at Tower Hill
Have you ever explored something as cool as one of Victoria's largest dormant volcanoes? Surely not. Well, Worn Gundidj at Tower Hill is your destination to discover such wonders through an indigenous lens with a two-hour interactive guided bush and nature tour. You’ll get to spend time learning about 65,000-year-old culture, iconic animals, traditional Aboriginal lifestyles, native food and medicine and boomerang throwing as well as discovering one of Victoria’s oldest dormant volcanoes. Worn Gundidj at Tower Hill is about a 3-hour long drive from Melbourne and guided walks depart Monday to Saturday at 10am and 1 pm. Book your spot on one of the tours here.
If Unesco World Heritage-listed sites are your jam, Budj Bim will absolutely not disappoint. About a 4-hour drive from Melbourne and located within the Country of the Gunditjmara, an Aboriginal nation in the southwest of Victoria, Budj Bim is bursting at the seams with rich cultural education and sightseeing. The landscape includes multiple different ecosystems, from wetland swamps in the Kurtonitj component to rocky ridges and large marshes in Tyrendarra and of course the Budj Bim Volcano. Amazingly, all of the various different components are actually connected by lava from The Budj Bim. There are so many tours to choose from but we recommend making a day of it and going for the Tungatt Mirring Stone Country half-day tour. Through Gunditjmara eyes you get to see breathtaking living Indigenous culture and the landscape, Budj Bim National Park, Lake Surprise, and the Kurtonitj IPA. To secure your spot or check out other tours head over here.
Warrnambool Art Gallery
Some of the most stunning art in the world has been created by indigenous artists and there's no better place to take it all in than the Warrnambool Art Gallery, conveniently just an hour away from Budj Jim. After a downright gorgeous three-hour-ish drive if you’re coming from the big smoke, waltz on through the doors with free entry. Meander your way through the collection of remarkable indigenous art and indigenous artefacts for the perfect wind down after a day of exploring. Want to find out more? Scoot on over here.
The Geelong Gallery is one of Australia’s leading and oldest regional art galleries and is well worth the trip. The gallery houses over six thousand international, Australian and indigenous works on paper, sculpture and decorative arts. Some of our most famous first nations artists are shown here, and their incredible works tell intricate and vast stories of indigenous culture. Art lovers can also get excited about the many different tours on offer, like those with a specific focus on the history of the Geelong region and even Floor Talks by artists and curators. It's truly the perfect place to give your brain a workout after having just inhaled the latest murder poddy on the gorgeous drive there. For more info, head over here.
The Wadawurrung Dja Exhibition
You’d be forgiven for not knowing that Geelong is a city synonymous with wool and the wool industry. They’ve been farming out there since the 1800s and have earned Geelong the title of the wool centre of the world amongst industry professionals. Now, you're not heading out there to slip into a sling and start shearing quicker than Jackie Howe, instead, wander around some new and renovated galleries exhibiting Australia's wool history. Speaking of exhibits, the National Wool Museum is hosting Dr Deanne Gilson, a proud Wadawurrung woman and her works in her exhibition, Wadawurrung Dja, until the 13th of November—so there's heaps of time for you to clear your cal to head out for the day trip of the century. Dr Gilson is an emerging elder, cultural educator and award-winning visual artist from Ballarat, and her works deal with her Dja (Country), people, plants and animals. Entry is totally affordable, with adults only being 10 bucks, concession holders being $8 and the whole fam for only $30. Want more info? You can find it over here.
Immerse yourself in some of Australia's most stunning natural landscapes and marvel at our magnificently rich indigenous culture. To find out more about the Great Ocean Road and to start planning your trip, click here.
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