Aboriginal Culture Discovery – 6 Day Adventure

Introducing Australia’s Indigenous People & Culture

Far North Queensland is rich with indigenous traditions, and a confluence of cultures brings together a striking blend of art, language, dance, food and ceremony. On this educational excursion, you discover similarities in Aboriginal culture as well as vast differences among the Tjapukai, Kuku Yalanji, Jirrbal and Yidinji through talks, walks and fun activities. Authentic interactions with Aboriginal people reveal their respect for land and reverence for traditions long forgotten by indigenous people in other parts of the world. Share in the discovery of a 40,000 year old culture while enjoying gorgeous natural places of the tropics.

Highlights:

  • Learn basics of the Jirrbal language
  • Paint your own boomerang and learn how to throw one
  • Search the mangroves with Kuku Yalanji guides for “bush tucker”
  • Discover indigenous story places on a river kayaking trip
  • Understand rainforest plants used for food and medicine
  • Learn to throw a spear to catch your own food and then cook it
  • See how tradition and modernity combine in Aboriginal peoples’ lives
  • OPTION: Make your own didgeridoo with a Yindinji family

Benefits & Bonuses:

  • All accommodation, meals, guides and transport to activities included
  • Risk assessment provided
  • Price Guarantee: price will not change once you sign up for your trip
  • Expert guides – not “bus drivers”
  • We cater to student special diets and swimming levels
  • Goodies! Water bottle, field guide, cloth shopping bag and rainforest plot adopted in your name
  • MAKE IT YOUR OWN – This trip is fully customisable.  Ask us for details!
Day 1: Arrival and Aboriginal Culture Park

Day 1: Arrival and Aboriginal Culture Park

Arrival in Cairns: Welcome to the tropics! On arrival you are met by a Small World Journeys staff member and transferred to your accommodation.

Accommodation: Your accommodation is at a breezy award-winning hostel in the centre of Cairns’ restaurant and shopping district, and only a few blocks from the waterfront. Well shaded by tropical trees and plants, the hostel features an outdoor pool, pool table, large kitchen for self-catering meals and free internet and WiFi.

Aboriginal Culture Park: Today you visit a unique Aboriginal culture park, winner of multiple tourism awards. A perfect introduction to the 40,000 year old aboriginal culture, Tjapukai—named after the local indigenous tribe—showcases Aboriginal rituals, dance and traditional arts. You witness the telling of creation stories, listen to the haunting sounds of the didgeridoo, and learn to throw spears and boomerangs in the care of Tjapukai tribal members.

Accommodation: Cairns Budget Accommodation
Meals Included: Dinner

Day 2: National Park, Aboriginal Culture and Language

Day 2: National Park, Aboriginal Culture and Language

National Park: Today you enter Wooroonooran National Park—a diverse part of the UNESCO Wet Tropics World Heritage Area which hosts some of the oldest continually surviving rainforest in the world.

Josephine Falls: One of the most picturesque places in the entire Wet Tropics! Your group takes an easy walk through the jungle, listening for the call of the king parrot and the bowerbird and emerge at Josephine Falls, where Josephine Creek plunges down a gorgeous set of cascades. Below the falls, boulders surround a fun swimming hole and a natural water slide down a smooth sloping rock face.

Aboriginal Language Lesson: Next you travel south to a small community where you have the privilege to meet members of the Grant family who are descendants from the Jabanbarra Jirrbal Peoople (coastal plain people). This afternoon is a special lesson in learning the basic language skills required to speak a local Aboriginal language – Jirrbal. You will be taught by an Aboriginal elder from the Grant family who is one of the last remaining speakers of this language. You learn how the language curiously uses gender markers, what role language plays in stories and as a means to preserve culture. Using interactive language activities and games, your Aboriginal host teaches you in a fun and dynamic way how a local Aboriginal language and culture is delightfully intertwined. This is a unique indigenous cultural experience.

Accommodation: Set in the heart of the Tully Valley overlooking the picturesque mountains of the Wet Tropics World Heritage Area lies Echo Creek, your accommodation for the next two nights. Cabins are single-gender with all linen provided and separate shared bathrooms.

Accommodation: Tully Valley Cabins
Included: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner

Day 3: Guided River Kayaking and Aboriginal Culture

Day 3: Guided River Kayaking and Aboriginal Culture

River Kayaking with Aboriginal Guides: Today Bulgan Creek’s pristine wilderness and small gentle rapids treat both first timers and experienced kayakers alike. First you are fitted with a life jacket and after a safety briefing you are given instruction on paddling skills. You then wind your way down the creek, its banks cloaked in lush green rainforest, and you learn about this special place from your Aboriginal guide.

Aboriginal Plant Uses and Story Places: As you traverse the river, you start to understand the complexity of Aboriginal belief systems and how sites have memories and meanings. You learn that spirituality, law, land, social life and care for country are all interconnected. With your guide you to stop to observe significant plants: trees and plants and vines all have a special name and use. Animals such as fish and birds also had significance when they appeared. Your guide also explains the cultural story places of the Jirrbal Aboriginal people, and you learn how they looked to nature for cues on how and when to conduct their daily activities, such as gathering food, preparing for cyclones, and migration. Halfway through your group journey, your stop for a swim and a treat of billy tea and damper (homemade bush bread).

Accommodation: Tully Valley Cabins
Included: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner

Day 4: Aboriginal Culture & Art, Waterfalls and Crater Lake

Day 4: Aboriginal Culture & Art, Waterfalls and Crater Lake

Aboriginal Culture & Art: The communities of Mission Beach, Tully and Cardwell are the only area in Australia where Aboriginal people lived permanently in the rainforest. Boomerangs were cut from the massive buttresses of rainforest trees, and today you are given a boomerang on which to paint. First you are given an overview on painting from a local indigenous perspective. Then one of your Aboriginal hosts recounts a story of historical significance and you have the chance to express this story through your art.

Famous Falls: Millaa Millaa (meaning “plenty of water” in the local aboriginal language) is the icon of tropical north Queensland and one of the most photographed natural sites in the region. The waterfall flows over pure basalt rock thousands of years old in a dramatic burst. There is a fantastic swimming hole at the base of the falls, and you can climb on the peculiar columnar basalt for a unique perspective of the falls from behind.

Giant Trees & Crater Lake: You pay tribute to a local high-profile resident – a massive curtain fig tree, and learn how these giants straight out of Lord of the Rings eerily “strangle” their hosts. You also walk Crater Lakes National Park, where an ancient volcanic crater—or maar—is now protected in a national park. You learn about the rainbow fish that mysteriously appeared in the lake with no streams running to it, and you look for the friendly resident turtles. A track around the lake passes through several different rainforest communities, offering you an opportunity to glimpse some of the area’s endemic species. You return to Cairns tonight.

Accommodation: Cairns Budget Accommodation
Included: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner

Day 5: Mossman Gorge, Daintree Rainforest and Aboriginal-Guided Hunting & Tracking

Day 5: Mossman Gorge, Daintree Rainforest and Aboriginal-Guided Hunting & Tracking

Aboriginal Guided Rainforest Walk: Today you discover the Daintree Rainforest at Mossman Gorge, an area important to the Kuku Yalanji.

Beginning with a traditional smoking ceremony, you wander rainforest paths, discovering with your guide how these Aboriginal people found their way through dense rainforest, made shelter and learned which native plants were tasty to eat. As your guide shares his stories, you learn how the seasons dictated life, what falls under men’s and women’s “business”, how to make fire in the rainforest and how to make fish very easy to catch.

While on the walk, you can go for a swim in the sparkling clear water among the boulders, and perhaps paint your faces with traditional ochre rock paint. Your walk finishes with some billy-tea and fresh-made damper with native honey.

Hunting and Food Gathering: Next you walk with two gentle Aboriginal guides of the Kuku Yalanji tribe along the coast they’ve called home for thousands of years. Brothers Linc and Brandon will teach you to throw a spear and you try your hand at catching food the traditional way — hunting for fish, mud crabs, mussels and other “bush tucker” (food) among the mangroves. For the brothers, their core ethos is related to understanding and sharing the belief that hunting and gathering come with the responsibility of respect for resources and management which they continue today and pass on to others.

Cooking What You’ve Caught: Later you are invited to your indigenous guide’s home where you meet the family, hear tales of the native “Dreamtime” and feast on what you’ve caught. This is an authentic interaction with Aboriginal people that allows you to see how indigenous traditions are integrated into the modern world.

Accommodation: Cairns Budget Accommodation
Included: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner

Day 6: Free Time, OPTIONAL Urban Challenge and Depart OR Add Didgeridoo Making with an Aboriginal Family

Day 6: Free Time, OPTIONAL Urban Challenge and Depart OR Add Didgeridoo Making with an Aboriginal Family

If you have an afternoon flight, you can choose to spend the morning souvenir shopping, swimming at the lagoon or participating in Small World Journeys’ Urban Challenge! (no extra cost)  The Urban Challenge is a fun team-building exercise that allows students to learn more about the history, nature, art and culture of Cairns.  Small group teams compete against time in this treasure hunt-type activity in Cairns central business district.  This is a popular activity for students and the winning team gets a prize!

Later your educational tour ends and you are transferred to the Cairns airport for your flight home.

Included: Breakfast

 

Small World Journeys reserves the right to change the order of activities for logistical reasons.

Is this  Aboriginal culture program too long or too short? Contact us for custom tour options that match your budget and objectives!

Land Cost, 15 + participants: $995 AUD

Land Cost, 10-14 participants: $1085 AUD

Trip Fees Include:

  • Cairns airport transfers
  • Specialty guides and educators
  • All activities and entrance fees as described in the itinerary
  • Transportation to activities
  • 3 nights at Cairns budget accommodation (4 or 6 share dorm rooms with private bathroom)*
  • 2 nights Echo Creek cabins (4 or 6 share dorm-style rooms with shared bathroom)*
  • Teacher accommodation in double or triple share private rooms and cabins*
  • All breakfasts**
  • All lunches**
  • All dinners**
  • A hand-painted boomerang to take home
  • 101 Animals of the Wet Tropics field guide for each student
  • Pre-trip educational information
  • 5 metres square Daintree rainforest plot adopted in your group’s name through Rainforest Rescue
  • A reusable water bottle and cloth shopping bag
  • Carbon offsetting through Sustainable Travel International (STI) for a carbon-neutral trip

*Teachers have a private twin or triple share rooms with ensuite in Cairns. A supplement of $195 is charged if an additional private room is required. If teachers are happy to share a room, no additional costs are incurred.

Trip Fees Exclude:

  • International & domestic airfare
  • Personal expenses (phone, laundry, etc.)

Options:

  • Add a day to make a didgeridoo with and Aboriginal Family – $295 per person

*Accommodation:

All accommodation is included. On your group tour, your home base is a breezy award-winning hostel in the centre of Cairns’ restaurant and shopping district. Students like the tropical swimming pool, lounging in the hammock and playing billiards at the free pool table. Group leaders love the private ensuite rooms, the central location, and free internet/WiFi. Two nights you stay at Echo Creek, where students sleep in single gender safari-style wood floor tents with bunk beds, while group leaders sleep in cabins with kitchenettes.

 

  • Upgrade to Cairns HOTEL accommodation: Your hotel is located within easy walking distance to the Cairns Esplanade and offers friendly, personal hospitality. Student rooms are triple share and teachers will enjoy twin share rooms with free WiFi. All spacious rooms feature LCD TVs, air-conditioning and private bathroom. The hotel has 24 hour reception, 2 swimming pools and a restaurant where a continental breakfast is served daily. Add $120 per person.

 

**Meals:

All meals are included, except for one dinner. You have a combination of catered and restaurant meals. A typical breakfast is a selection of cereals, toast, juice and fruits; lunches are combinations of sandwiches and salads with fruits and a sweet, and dinners are tasty choices at restaurants or old favourites such as lasagne, stir-frys, burgers, and tacos. Ask us about vegetarian, kosher and halal options.

Small World Journeys reserves the right to change the order of activities for logistical reasons.

TERMS & CONDITIONS

HOW TO BOOK A TRIP WITH US (It’s easy!):

  1. Read our Terms and Conditions.
  2. Pay a $200 AUD deposit for the group (not per person – just a flat $200 to secure your booking) via our payment page or by direct deposit/cheque.
  3. Receive our Confirmation Pack which includes forms parents must sign.
  4. Have each student sign up via our Booking Form and pay for their trip by 60 days prior to the trip.
  5. Enjoy your trip!

Question 1: Do I need a visa to visit Australia?

Answer: All visitors to Australia need a visa, with the exception of visitors from New Zealand. In some countries a visa is easily obtained by the travel agent who issues your ticket, and should be free of charge. For more information on getting a visa, please see: Australian Visas. All visitors will also need a passport, valid for at least six months after the planned return date. 

Question 2: How do we arrange airfare?

Answer: We do not arrange airfare in house, however we do work closely with a couple of travel agents who would be happy to help:In Australia, we recommend Kim Salter, our Melbourne-based travel agent. Contact Kim at kims@travelmanagers.com.au or call + 61 0433 324 455 or toll free within Australia 1 300 640 821. In the US, we recommend: Sandra Marron at Millennium Travel California. You can contact Sandra at milltrav@aol.com or call  1-415-898- 7974.

Question 3: What happens when we arrive at the airport?

Answer: You will be met by a Small World Journeys staff member who will give you an orientation and then accompany you to your accommodation.

Question 4: When is the best time to visit Cairns and the Great Barrier Reef?

Answer: Cairns is a tropical place, and outdoor activities can be enjoyed year-round. In our summer (December-February), the weather is at its warmest and wettest. You can expect hot days with occasional tropical storms, producing lush green hillsides and plenty of waterfalls. Average temperatures are 23-31 degrees Celsius/73-87 Fahrenheit.In our winter (June-August), the climate is at its most mild, with warm days, cool nights, and little rainfall. Average temperatures are 18-26 degrees Celsius/64-78 degrees Fahrenheit.Autumn (March - May) brings unpredictable weather - it can be warm and rainy or hot and sunny. Springtime (September - November) is the most predicable, and days tend to be warm to hot with little rainfall.The visbility at the Great Barrier Reef is at its best September - November, but can be enjoyed year-round. Come June - September for seasonal whale watching. 

Question 5: Do we need to worry about jellyfish?

Answer: The box jellyfish are present in the northern coastal waters from November to April/May. The jellyfish are found close to shore—they breed in estuaries and very very rarely can they make it to the outer Great Barrier Reef. Most of the swimming beaches have “stinger nets” up during this season so people can swim. However, the tiny Irukandji jellyfish has been known on occasion to slip through the nets, and this is most often where people have been stung. It is a very painful sting, but there have been only 2 confirmed deaths in Australia due to the Irukandji jellyfish.The good news is that the jellyfish are rarely found at the outer Great Barrier Reef, where you will be snorkeling and/or diving. Most people swim on the reef without using any protection. According to the CRC Reef Research Centre, “In offshore waters around coral reefs, box jellyfish that cause Irukandji syndrome are usually well dispersed and the incidence of stings is very small.” Nonetheless, reef operators have “stinger suits” as well as wetsuits as an extra precaution.

Question 6: What happens if a student cancels?

Answer: If an individual student cancels from a trip within 30 days of the trip departure, no refunds are given. For this reason, we strongly encourage all parents to purchase trip cancellation insurance in order to protect against unforeseen circumstances which are the main cause for student cancellations.For more details, please see our Terms & Conditions.

Question 7: What is your safety record?

Answer: Our safety record is outstanding. Please ask us for teacher/supervisor references specifically regarding our safety measures and practices.  We do risk assessments for every excursion we run. We carry a first aid kit in our vehicles, as well as on the guide's person when in remote areas.  All guides are certified in first aid and CPR.  We give every student  a card with emergency numbers and safety information on it to carry, and we review safety measures as part of our orientation.Safety is absolutely our number one concern at all times. We do everything in our power to make sure each trip is as safe as it can possibly be.

Question 8: Do you do risk assessments?

Answer: Yes. We evaluate and re-evaluate the safety of each of our destinations and activities, and we always reserve the right to modify or cancel an itinerary if the guide feels that conditions are unsafe. We will gladly provide a risk management assessment specific to your trip on request. Small World Journeys' staff also adhere to a comprehensive Risk Management Strategy.

Question 9: Why should we purchase travel insurance?

Answer: We strongly recommend the purchase of travel insurance for your protection. Should a participant need to cancel their trip for any reason, our cancellation policy applies. However, travel insurance protects any loss they may experience should s/he or an immediate family member become ill or sustain an injury that prevents them from going on the trip.

Question 10: What makes Small World Journeys "eco-friendly"?

Answer: An eco tour, in our opinion, is a trip in which everyone benefits: the community, the environment, you and us. Simply by joining one of our trips, you will be supporting carbon offsetting, Rainforest Rescue's Adopt-A-Square initiative, aboriginal cultural ventures and locally-owned businesses who are working towards a more sustainable future in tourism. As our guest, you are supporting us as well. Thank you! For more information, see 10 Reasons Why We're Eco.

The World’s Oldest Living Civilisation

The Cairns region is the perfect place to look more closely at Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture with the influences of many language groups predominant in the region. On this educational tour in the Daintree your students learn about the Kuku-Yalanji people who have lived in the rainforest and along the coast for thousands of years. In the south they  learn about the complex social system of the Jirrbal people and in the Cairns region they learn about the Tjapukai people.

Australian National Curriculum – High School

Cross Curriculum Priority: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Histories and Cultures

Country/ Place

  • OI.1 Your students will discuss Australia’s two distinct Indigenous groups, Aboriginal Peoples and Torres Strait Islander Peoples. They will learn about the similarities and the differences between the two cultures.
  • OI.2 Your students will learn how Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities maintain a special connection to and responsibility for Country/Place throughout all of Australia. In the Cairns region there are several different Aboriginal groups all of which have a strong connection to the reef, coast, rainforests and mountains.
  • OI.3 Students will hear from local Indigenous people about their unique belief systems and how they are spiritually connected to the land, sea, sky and waterways.

Culture

  • OI.4 Within the Cairns region there are several different Aboriginal language groups. By visiting different areas of the region your students will learn about language from the Kuku-Yalanji, Tjapukai and Jirrbal people.
  • OI.5 Through interacting with Aboriginal people, students will learn that their ways of life are uniquely expressed through ways of being, knowing, thinking and doing.
  • OI.6 The history of Aboriginal people in the Cairns region spans back over 40,000 years. During your visit your students will learn about aspects of this complex history and how this can be influenced by thinking socially or politically.

People

  • OI.7 After a visiting the Cairns region and learning about the local Indigenous culture your high school students will be able to compare the similarities and differences of the broader Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander societies encompassed by the diversity of nations across Australia.
  • OI.8 Local Aboriginal guides will explain how their people have sophisticated family and kinship structures.
  • OI.9 After experiencing first-hand the intricacies of the local Aboriginal people your students will be in a better position to acknowledge the significant contributions of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people locally and globally.

 

Ask us about your specific academic and cultural goals. This educational group tour is appropriate for both high school students and international college students traveling to Australia.

How your trip supports the community

SUPPORTING LOCAL INDIGENOUS CULTURE: We acknowledge  Aboriginal People and Torres Strait Islander People as the first inhabitants of Australia and acknowledge Traditional Owners of the lands where we work and our groups travel. Your trip includes activities and interaction with local Aboriginal people, the traditional owners of the land on which you are traveling. By taking this trip, you are supporting grassroots indigenous tourism ventures and encouraging Aboriginal pride in culture. We are proud to say that in the financial year of 2015-16, we gave over $28,000 in business to Aboriginal-owned ventures.

SUPPORTING LOCAL BUSINESSES: On this educational tour, we use locally owned accommodation, restaurants, and suppliers whenever possible to keep income in the community. This includes supporting farmers by purchasing locally-grown fruits and vegetables for you on your trip. We also give you a list of where to buy locally-made crafts and souvenirs so you can continue this support as well.

SUPPORTING LOCAL HOMELESS & NEEDY PEOPLE: We make both financial and in-kind donations to Rosie’s Friends on The Street, a Cairns-based charity. Rosie’s seeks to provide homeless people and people living rough a hot meal, conversation and a non-judgemental human connection.  Small World Journeys’ staff also volunteer on Rosie’s outreach nights, and many of our students have made comfort packs for Rosie’s patrons! For more information on Rosie’s and other organisations to which we donate, see Philanthropy and Partnerships or ask us how you can incorporate community service with Rosie’s into your educational excursion.

How your trip is “Eco-friendly”

ADOPTING A RAINFOREST PLOT IN YOUR NAME: We pay to have a 5-square metre plot of rainforest is adopted in your group’s name through Rainforest Rescue. On your school excursion, your group will be presented with a certificate detailing the significance of this gift to the environment.

REDUCING WASTE: We give you your own water bottle and cloth shopping bag to eliminate the need for disposable bottles and plastic bags. By reducing our need for plastic bags and bottles, we avoid having these things go into landfills or into the tummies of our native animals. For more information on how we donate to The Turtle Rehabilitation Centre and other environmental groups, see Philanthropy and Partnerships.

CARBON OFFSETTING: Your activities and travel put carbon dioxide into the environment. We calculate the total carbon footprint of your trip. Then we pay Sustainable Travel International (STI) to offset your emissions by investing in environmental and community-based projects. For more information about our carbon offsetting, see 10 Reasons Why We’re Eco.

How your trip is safety-oriented

REFERENCES:  We have had hundreds of students travel with us, and our safety record is excellent.  Ask us for teacher references specifically regarding safety.

VEHICLES: All of our vehicles are equipped with seatbelts for every seat. While this is not a Queensland law, we feel your safety is a priority.  Our guides do safety checks at the start of each day of the trip. In addition, vehicles go through a Department of Transport safety inspection every six months.

RISK ASSESSMENT: We have a complete Crisis Management Plan, we assess risks of the excursion and are happy to complete a risk assessment for you upon request. In addition, students are given a safety briefing during group orientation, along with a card with emergency numbers, accommodation addresses and phone numbers.

GUIDES AND SAFETY: Small World Journeys’ guides hold current Senior First Aid and CPR certificates, along with government-issued Driver’s Authority and Working With Children cards (also known as a Blue Card). For more information on our student tour guides, see The Small World Journeys Team.