New First Nations experiences launch in Tropical North Queensland

Home to the Reef, the Rainforest and the oldest living culture on earth, Tropical North Queensland is the only place in Australia with two distinct Indigenous cultures – Aboriginal People and Torres Strait Islanders. Three new First-Nations-led tours have recently launched, highlighting the region’s commitment to telling its cultural story, and a first-of-its-kind event, Shine on Gimuy (Cairns), will take place next month.


Mandingalbay Ancient Indigenous Tours has launched a two-hour ‘Deadly After Dark’ experience. Combining Mandingalbay Yidjinji culture with canapes, guests cruise from Cairns across Trinity Inlet at sunset bound for wetlands and mangrove forests. Knowledgeable guides educate on the landscapes of East Trinity Reserve – an Indigenous Protected Area where ancient knowledge meets science to deliver world-first conservation programmes.


The experience takes passengers to a specially built Yulu (stingray) Shelter, where they’ll participate in the ancient Mandingalbay custom of a Welcoming to Country and Smoke Cleansing Ceremony, before hearing more about the local Indigenous people, their story, their ancient language and traditions from Mandingalbay Yidinji rangers. From A$99 per person (approx £50), including light canapes and refreshments made from locally sourced native ingredients.


Kuku Yalanji Elder, CJ, welcomes guests to his country to experience a remote part of the Daintree Rainforest on the new Back Country Bliss Unseen Daintree Heli-Experience for just five guests. The 30-minute helicopter flight over the World Heritage rainforest lands at Yindilli Campsite where CJ shares his life story and rainforest knowledge on a guided walk followed by a locally caught fresh barramundi lunch. Guests return to the coast for a River Drift Snorkelling Tour floating beneath the rainforest canopy.


Meanwhile, the Daintree Discovery Centre is blending technology with the world’s oldest culture to create a special 3D hologram attraction that will give visitors an immersive experience of Kuku Yalanji country. The new addition to the award-winning centre will give visitors the opportunity to hear firsthand storytelling by a traditional owner. Going on country or ‘walkabout’ with KuKu Yalanji Juan Walker of Walkabout Cultural Adventures provides an insight into the culture and country of these First Nations people.


Daintree Discovery Centre incorporates an interpretive centre and a series of boardwalks and aerial walkways, topped off by a canopy tower. New interpretive cassowary signage has also been added to an upper boardwalk which runs through a natural cassowary corridor. The signs provide an insight into unique plant species along the boardwalk and the compelling story of how the Cassowary survives in this ancient environment.


And finally, a brand new First Nations event launches in Tropical North Queensland next month that will bring a spectacular art display to the Gimuy (Cairns) waterfront from 5-15 October. Led by Indigenous creative and cultural guides, Shine on Gimuy will be a journey of immersion, exploration and connection to the world’s oldest culture. The multi-artform event will see the streets of Cairns glow with light shows, soundscapes, art installations, ‘Deep Wisdom’ talks and musical performances that capture 60,000 years of history, science, tradition and storytelling. Artworks and displays will feature the language, stories, chants and songs from the rich Indigenous oral history of the region, providing a poignant experience of the First Nations people of Gimuy (Cairns). for further information.

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