Just about every Australia vacation will take you to or through Sydney. You’ll want to see the city’s highlights, including the Sydney Opera House, the Sydney Harbour Bridge, the gorgeous Opera House, fabulous beaches such as Bondi, and museums, plus the café and art culture.
But, hidden in the midst of this dazzling city, Aboriginal culture not only survives it flourishes. While in Sydney, you can experience the First Nation culture with some of the friendliest Australians you’ll meet. Here are a few visitor favorites:
The Australian Museum
Situated in the heart of Sydney, this museum has an extraordinary collection of Aboriginal artifacts as well as personal guided tours and special exhibitions. You’ll see 40,000 First Nations Australian weapons, body ornaments, ancient paintings, and toys as well as contemporary art and sculpture.
There are 32,000 year-old grindstones, bark drawings, carved eggs, and modern dot paintings. From the Torres Strait Islanders you’ll see crocodile masks, body ornaments made of shells, and feathered headdresses that are still worn for ceremonies. Also check out the ghost fishing nets and drums.
The BLAK Markets
This event takes place six – eight times each year in Sydney, and it is perfect for buying Aboriginal goods. But this isn’t only a terrific shopping experience. It also has bush tucker foods, songs, dance, local crafts, entertainers, and ceremonies. All profits go to Aboriginal communities.
Located beneath the glorious Sydney Harbour Bridge, the Barangaroo is a reserve in the middle of the waterfront district. (First Nations people have always lived in and around Sydney.) Take a cultural tour to see how the city’s growth and modern life is interwoven with the Aboriginal people—they thrive together. Your guides will show you the large native plant collection as well as which were used, and how, for food and for medicine.
Sydney’s Royal Botanic Garden
The Royal Botanic Garden is probably on your Sydney bucket-list. While you’re there be sure to take their Aboriginal Heritage Tour. You’ll discover, first-hand, the uses and tastes of plants by foraging for Australian bush foods. You’ll learn how plants are used for medicine and shelter, as well as collecting fruit, berries, and seeds in a traditional bark dish called a coolamon. Next, you’ll learn how to use the plants in the dishes you cook at home.
The Royal Botanic Garden also has Aboriginal art classes. Explore materials used in painting such as plants, sticks, ochre, bark, grasses, plus natural dyes and brushes. Bring home your own piece of cherished artwork!
The Blue Mountains via Rail
Head over to Sydney’s Central Train station, and just 1 ½ hours later you’ll be in the Blue Mountains. Take a walkabout tour, with an Aboriginal guide, that winds through caves and valleys, passing sacred sites. Deep in the rainforest, you’ll become immersed in ancient wisdom. Slow down… Be part of the natural world. Surrender to the mystery. The Blue Mountains themselves are a World Heritage site, designated as such for their outstanding beauty. But taking a walkabout tour adds a new, deep dimension to this special region.
Dreamtime in Sydney Harbour
The legendary Sydney Harbour is filled with spiritual importance for Aboriginal people, both past and present. Local guides provide a view into what life was like here before Australia was colonized. You’ll hear creation stories and discover how the Saltwater people practiced sustainable and seasonal food growth. Learn about the colors of the Aboriginal flag, visit sacred sites in the heart of Sydney, and taste bush tucker food. An amazing experience.
Watson’s Bay, Sydney Harbour
It’s here you’ll find an immersive two-hour tour, with a local guide, of Sydney Harbour National Park and La Perouse in Kamay Botany Bay National Park. You’ll begin with a traditional ochre ceremony and a warm welcome. Next, try bush tucker food and discover traditional uses of plants, animals for food, medicine, and the importance of ceremony. Dreamtime stories lead you along the coast and through native plant land.