Places to learn the culture and history of the Traditional Owners and ongoing custodians of the land – the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

Whether you’re an Australian resident, or just visiting, it’s important to explore, learn about, and respect the culture and history of the Traditional Owners and ongoing custodians of the land – the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

The ancestral stories of Aboriginal people form the Dreaming, creating a deep spiritual connection with the land, sea, and sky for more than 60,000 years. There are many wonderful ways in Sydney to experience the world’s oldest living culture, including fun and informative Aboriginal-guided tours.

You can visit rock art and ceremonial sites in national parks, including Australia’s two oldest national parks – the Royal National Park in Sydney’s south and the Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park in Sydney’s north.

Other cultural experiences that reveal Sydney’s history through Aboriginal eyes include a Sydney Harbour cruise with Tribal Warrior and walkabout tours such as the Rocks Dreaming. You can also take part in an ochre ceremony with Kadoo Tours and learn how to throw boomerangs at Muru Mittigar.

In Muru Mittigar’s shop, browse authentic Aboriginal souvenirs such as didgeridoos, boomerangs, jewellery, and native jams and spices. You can buy beautiful Aboriginal arts and crafts at recognised private galleries too, including Boomalli, the Coo-ee Gallery, the Artery and the Kate Owen Gallery.

One of the Sydney Opera House’s iconic sails illuminates with Aboriginal artists’ exquisite works in the Badu Gili exhibition, daily at sunset and 7pm. Another must-see is Bangarra Dance’s exhilarating combination of traditional and modern dance styles exploring the Dreaming and social themes.

Aboriginal-guided tours

There is a range of Aboriginal-guided tours available throughout Sydney. These tours will allow you to learn about and appreciate the culture and history of Indigenous Australians.  From walking tours to museums and wildlife tours, there is something for everyone.

One of the largest public collections of Aboriginal art is in Sydney’s galleries and museums.

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Australian Museum

The Australian Museum has a permanent exhibition, Bayala Nura: Yarning Country, open daily from 9.30am–5pm.

Bayala Nura means ‘yarning country’ in the local Sydney language and celebrates the vibrant, living diversity of Australia’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures. ‘Yarning’ – sharing stories and songlines through talking, singing, and dancing – is a traditional practice used to build connections and pass on cultural knowledge, and is still very much alive today.

In this gallery, you’ll find fascinating objects and artworks from all over Indigenous Australia including an array of tall hunting spears and shields from around the country, and colourful yidakis (didjeridus) from Arnhem Land and beyond. See a bark canoe made especially for this exhibition using traditional techniques, and Edward Malati Yunupingu’s playful work, Old Time Footballer, which shows the important role Indigenous artists continue to play in Australia’s cultural life.

Accompanying the objects in this exhibition are first-hand stories of the impacts of colonisation on Aboriginal communities, from the first contact through the long struggle to maintain identity and sacred connections to Country that continues today.

Share in the traditional knowledge and living culture of Australia’s First Nations.

Discover First Nations cultural material, cultural programs and educational offerings at the Australian Museum.

LOCATION  

1 William Street

Sydney NSW 2010

Phone: +61 2 9320 6000

Open 7 days.

LEARN MORE HERE

Yiribana Gallery – Art Gallery of NSW

Located only a short distance from the Australian Museum, Yiribana contains a rotating selection of fine works from the vast Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander collection of the Art Gallery of NSW. The collection includes Lin Onus’s sculpture Fruit Bats and John Mawurndjul’s intricate bark paintings from Arnhem Land.

Yiribana means ‘this way’ in the language of the Eora people and acknowledges the location of the gallery on Gadigal land. Representing artists from communities across Australia, it celebrates Indigenous Australia’s enduring cultural heritage and its myriad contemporary expressions.

Explore five levels of art at one of Australia’s most popular art museums, located within beautiful parklands overlooking Sydney Harbour, just a 10 minute walk from the city.

See an extensive collection of Australian art, including one of the largest galleries of Aboriginal art in the country.

LOCATION

Art Gallery Rd, The Domain

Sydney NSW 2000

Phone: 1800 679 278

Open 7 days.

LEARN MORE HERE

Australian National Maritime Museum

The Eora First People exhibition in the Australian National Maritime Museum explores the deep indigenous connections with the sea.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people should be aware that this exhibition includes names and artwork of deceased people.

LOCATION

2 Murray Street, Darling Harbour

Sydney NSW 2000

Phone: +61 2 9298 3777

Open daily.

LEARN MORE HERE

Waradah Aboriginal Centre, Blue Mountains

90 minutes from Sydney by car, two hours by train.

Visit Waradah Aboriginal Centre, a vibrant hub of Aboriginal culture with dance and didgeridoo performances throughout the day. Waradah Aboriginal Centre is located adjacent to the World Heritage-listed Blue Mountains National Park, on the ground floor of the Lookout Centre. View live performances portraying Australia’s history.

LOCATION

World Heritage Plaza

33-37 Echo Point Road

Katoomba NSW

Phone: 02 47821979

Open 7 days.

READ MORE ON THEIR WEBSITE

Wollongong Art Gallery

Located 80 kilometres south of Sydney, Wollongong Art Gallery has one of the finest Aboriginal art collections held by a regional public gallery.

They currently have an exhibition called BALNHDHURR – A Lasting Impression 2 March – 26 May 2019.

Celebrating 20 Years of the Yirrkala Print Space

The exhibition takes the viewer on a visual journey mapping the evolution of the Yirrkala Print Space, based at Buku-Larrnngay Mulka Art Centre in Northeast Arnhem Land, from the first black and white linocuts produced there, to the technically diverse and innovative outcomes of major community projects.

The prints are both visually engaging and rich with cultural content, a testament to the commitment, talents, and skills of generations of Yolngu artists who have utilised the medium of printmaking to share their stories with others.

Presented by Artback NT in association with Buku-Larrnggay Mulka Centre. ​

LOCATION

Corner Kembla & Burelli Streets

Wollongong NSW

Phone: 02 4227 8500

Open Tues-Fri 10am-5pm

Weekends 12-4pm

READ MORE ON THEIR WEBSITE

Stay in Sydney and Explore Aboriginal Culture and History

As you can see, there are many cultural experiences, historical sites, and Indigenous art galleries to explore while in Sydney. If you’re in Australia, it’s crucial that you learn about the culture and history of the Traditional Owners and ongoing custodians of the land. Immersing yourself in the history and culture of a country is the best way to travel, that way, you understand how to be respectful and to make the most out of your stay at Double Bay.

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