Walk on ancient land and discover the world's oldest continuous culture.
From the city to to some of the most remote and beautiful corners of our state - First Nations people are the custodians and traditional owners of South Australia. Adelaide is the traditional land of the Kaurna (pronounced Garna) people. The city has many museums, galleries and tours that tell the Kaurna story and showcase Aboriginal art and Aboriginal culture in South Australia. Beyond the CBD, outstanding Aboriginal experiences and landmarks await - see rock carvings and cave paintings in the Flinders Ranges and hear Dreamtime stories from Aboriginal tour guides. Start exploring the history and culture of Aboriginal South Australia with our ultimate guide to the best Aboriginal tours, experiences and attractions.
PLACES TO SEE
1. IKARA – THE MEETING PLACE, FLINDERS RANGES
The Flinders Ranges and Outback are of immense cultural significance for the Adnyamathanha people who have lived in the Flinders Ranges for tens of thousands of years. Located in the heart of the Flinders Ranges is Ikara - The Meeting Place, an award-winning public art space that shares an important story of the Adnyamathanha people. The community has widely endorsed sharing information with visitors about their land to encourage a deeper appreciation of Aboriginal culture. Join the Yura Udnyu Aboriginal Cultural Walk for an informative, guided stroll to Old Wilpena Station and learn about the landscape and bio-diversity from the perspective of the Adnyamathanha people. Join a tour from the heart of the park with Wilpena Pound Resort Tours, or check out more tour operators who offer aboriginal experiences and can also guide you through Ikara-Flinders Ranges National Park.
2. ARKAROO ROCK AND SACRED CANYON, FLINDERS RANGES
Ikara-Flinders Ranges National Park is rich in Aboriginal rock art and engravings. Arkaroo Rock is a particularly important Aboriginal art site in the Flinders Ranges, featuring ochre and charcoal images depicting the creation of Wilpena Pound. The main cave site is at least 5,000 years old and the rock paintings are best seen in the morning light. Sacred Canyon is a small chasm where ancient Aboriginal rock engravings representing animal tracks, people, waterholes and other symbols that have been etched into the smooth sandstone walls. The rock engravings are best seen in soft morning or afternoon light.
3. KATI THANDA-LAKE EYRE AND THE PAINTED DESERT, OUTBACK
Kati Thanda-Lake Eyre National Park is a very special place to everyone who bears witness to it, but particularly to the Arabana and Dieri people. Aboriginal people have been living around Kati Thanda for thousands of years and it plays a central role in many of their stories and songs. As Australia's largest salt lake, it is usually dry but occasionally the lake fills with water - transforming into a desert oasis, with thousands of waterbirds flocking to the area. Nearby is the Painted Desert, a spectacular and recently discovered section of the pristine Breakaways country in the far north of South Australia. Created more than 80 million years ago, it's a large rocky outcrop of large and small hills, which emerge suddenly out of a flat, desert landscape. The area can only be accessed by air, due to its fragility and natural beauty. Kati Thanda-Lake Eyre and the Painted Desert are located in South Australia's outback, a two-hour scenic flight from Coober Pedy with Wrightsair or a 13 hour drive from Adelaide on the Explorer's Way road trip.
4. NGAUT NGAUT CONSERVATION PARK, MURRAY RIVER
Meander along the banks of the Murray, marvel at the majestic cliffs formed eons ago by an extinct sea bed and experience ancient rock art as you explore Ngaut Ngaut Conservation Park, an Aboriginal site near Adelaide, and learn about the area's important dreaming and culture from a local guide. Tucked between Waikerie and Mannum near the Murray River, this hidden gem is an easy day trip from Adelaide and one of the most significant aboriginal cultural sites in South Australia, as the birthplace of Black Duck Dreaming. Scarred river red gums reveal the ancient practice of canoe making, which still continues along the Murray River. In recognition of the cultural significance of this park, please contact Mannum Aboriginal Community Association before visiting the park and to learn about available tours. Mobile: 0488052370.
5. CALPERUM STATION, MURRAY RIVER
Managed by a team of ecologists and indigenous rangers, Calperum Station is an internationally significant wetland system. Located just outside of Renmark, the property covers an expansive 240,000 hectares and is a haven for native birds and wildlife, as well as rare species of flora and fauna. The best way to discover this beautiful section of the Murray River is to embark on a guided 'Culture Meets Ecology' walk with a local ranger, who will guide you through the wetland and creek system that is dotted with significant cultural sites.
THINGS TO DO
1. EMBARK ON A BUSH CAMP IN THE VULKATHUNHA-GAMMON RANGES, NORTHERN FLINDERS RANGES
Vulkathunha-Gammon Ranges National Park is a rugged and remote park in the northern Flinders Ranges that boasts deep gorges, chasms, towering ranges, tree-lined creeks and freshwater springs that are havens for rare and endangered plants and animals. A unique feature of the park is Lake Frome - an ephemeral salt lake, which is 100 kilometres long and plays an important role in the lives of the Adnyamathanha people. Join a guided tour with Iga Warta which is owned, managed and staffed completely by Aboriginal people. The tour operators want to "provide an opportunity for other people to come and experience our ways and break down the barriers between white and black". Embark on a Malkii tour and visit a painting site believed to be 35,000 years old, or visit an ochre pit and discover its importance to the Adnyamathanha people. Alternatively, join a local woman on a tour of a traditional women's site, or come to understand Australia's true history from the perspective of the local people - who will discuss how their lives changed since non-Aboriginal people came to Australia. They also offer overnight camping tours in the Gammon Ranges, crafts, painting, campfire storytelling and hunting tours.
2. CULTURAL TOURS OF DHILBA GUURANDA-INNES NATIONAL PARK, YORKE PENINSULA
In 1868, the Point Pearce Aboriginal Mission was established, however the Narungga people travelled through the area for thousands of years prior. Their campsites can be found everywhere, especially along the coast - where stone tools, food remains and old fire places occur in abundance. Join Quenten Agius from Aboriginal Cultural Tours on a coastal tour that will see you strolling along an ancient shoreline as you hear the Dreaming stories that have been passed down from generation to generation. This is a truly unique way to discover this coastal gem and one of the only ways to understand the significance of Point Pearce, the Narungga story of survival and to witness how their ancestors lived. Quenten offers two, three and five day tours that can take you from the coastline to "out bush" toward the Clare Valley wine region and the Red Banks Conservation Park - home of megafauna fossils.
3. TASTE NATIVE FOODS ON A TOUR OF THE COORONG NATIONAL PARK
Coorong National Park is one of the most breathtaking national parks in Australia. You can cruise its serene backwaters or brave the elements along remote beaches. The long, salty lagoons are a haven for bird life, with a narrow strip of sand hills protecting the sheltered waters from the Southern Ocean. The name Coorong is an adaptation of the 'kurrangk', the Ngarrindjeri word for this stretch of land and waters. You will be a guest of the Ngarrindjeri people, traditional custodians of the Coorong for thousands of years. Dotted throughout the sandy landscape are middens - mounds of shells deposited from many years of fishing. To be fully immersed in this pristine landscape, join Spirit of the Coorong's Ngarrindjeri Kurrangk Culture Experience Tour where you'll unearth and taste unique native foods, explore the pristine water network and be initiated into country with a smoke ceremony performed by your Ngarrindjeri guide.
4. FOLLOW THE INDIGENOUS TOURISM TRAIL, EYRE PENINSULA
Explore Eyre Peninsula's Indigenous Tourism Trail and discover the region's Aboriginal culture and heritage from Poonindie near Port Lincoln to Head of Bight. The Poonindie Native Training Mission near Port Lincoln was opened in 1850 and the original church still remains. Port Lincoln’s Kuju Aboriginal Arts and Ceduna Arts and Cultural Centre showcase original Aboriginal art by local artists from the region. Along the way, visit the Big Wombat at Scotdesco near Ceduna or be awestruck by the annual migration of whales from the Head of Bight at winter.
5. MARVEL AT ABORIGINAL ART AND ARTEFACTS AT TANDANYA NATIONAL ABORIGINAL CULTURAL INSTITUTE, ADELAIDE
Explore and experience contemporary and traditional Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture and art at Tandanya National Aboriginal Cultural Institute. The institute is Australia's oldest Aboriginal-owned and managed multi-arts centre, with the name Tandanya being the Kaurna word for “place of the Red Kangaroo". Experience a cultural presentation of the yidaki (didgeridoo) or a performance by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander performers. Hear about their heritage and their stories while visiting the galleries, that play host to at least 12 different exhibitions a year. You can also experience Tandanya through a tour with Bookabee Australia. Bookabee is completely Aboriginal owned and operated, with a variety of city based cultural immersion tours that include a stop off at Tandanya, a bush food trail through the stunning Adelaide Botanic Gardens and stories of what Aboriginal life looked like in Adelaide - before it became Adelaide.
6. SEE THE WORLD'S LARGEST COLLECTION OF AUSTRALIAN ABORIGINAL CULTURAL MATERIAL, ADELAIDE
The South Australian Museum is located in the heart of the Adelaide CBD and is the perfect place to discover Aboriginal culture if you are only visiting for a couple of days. Immerse yourself in the world's largest collection of Australian Aboriginal cultural material as you peruse over 3,000 artefacts on display - including the culturally significant Yuendumu Doors. Got a bit of time? Next door is the South Australian Art Gallery, that houses a permanent collection of dot paintings from central Australia that date back to the beginning of the painting movement in the early 1970s. If you have time to explore beyond the CBD, Kool Tours are based just 40 minutes out of Adelaide along the stunning Fleurieu Peninsula and offer a "day in the life of our people".
7. DISCOVER AN ANCIENT PETROGLYPH SITE WITH WADNA CULTURAL TOURS, FLINDERS RANGES
Adnyamathanha guide Kristian Coulthard offers a range of tours through the Flinders Ranges National Park and beyond. Kristian - who runs Wadna Cultural Tours - began teaching people about his culture on the weekends as a way to practice his traditional woodworking skills. Hailing from a place called Nepabunna - between Leigh Creek and the famous Arkaroola - Kristian has a deep connection with country and now supports other members of the Adnyamathanha community by selling their woven items, paintings and artworks alongside his hand carved wooden items at the Wadna Blinman shopfront. When he is not carving a collamon, walking stick or traditional tool, Kristian is guiding people through his country and showing groups traditional charcoal paintings at the Arkaroo rock shelter, as well as Dingly Dell - an ancient Adnyamathanha petroglyph site. Wadna Cultural Tours also offer a deep cultural immersion with the option to have a personally curated tour that will take you to some of the more hidden, lesser known cultural sites.
Whether you’re looking for one of South Australia’s best hiking trails, camping spots or wildlife hotspots, escape the crowds and get back to nature with our guide to South Australia’s best national parks.