From the city to to some of the most remote and beautiful corners 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. Beyond the city, outstanding Aboriginal experiences 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 top 10 experiences.
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 explore more tour operators who can guide you through Ikara-Flinders Ranges National Park.
2. VULKATHUNHA-GAMMON RANGES NATIONAL PARK, NORTHERN FLINDERS RANGES
Vulkathunha-Gammon Ranges National Park is a rugged and remote park in the northern Flinders Ranges, with deep gorges, chasms, towering ranges, tree-lined creeks and freshwater springs which 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 by Aboriginal people. Tours include overnight camping in the Gammon Ranges, climbing Iga Warta Hill, craft, painting and more.
3. 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 have been etched into the smooth sandstone walls. The rock engravings are best seen in soft morning or afternoon light.
4. 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, particularly 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 the Painted Desert is 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.
5. POINT PEARCE AND 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. Follow in their footsteps and visit the Black Point Cultural Site on a guided tour. Walk along the beach or cliff face to ancient ochre and tool quarries. Listen to Dreaming stories and gain incredible insight into Innes National Park through Aboriginal eyes.
Join Quenten Agius from Aboriginal Cultural Tours on one of the many tours he offers. Visit coastal Yorke Peninsula on Adjahdura land or explore “outbush” – between the coast and the Outback through Ngadjuri country – which includes the Clare Valley and Red Banks Conservation Park. Heading Bush also offers a guided tour of the southern Yorke Peninsula. Follow the Coastal Way road trip for a self-guided tour.
6. 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 birdlife with a narrow strip of sand hills protecting the sheltered waters from the Southern Ocean. The name Coorong is an adaptation of the ‘kurangk’, the Ngarrindjeri word 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 Kurangk 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.
7. 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 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 one of the most significant aboriginal cultural sites in South Australia and the birthplace of Black Duck Dreaming. Scarred river red gums reveal the ancient practice of canoe making, which still continues along the Murray River.