Aboriginal Cultural Tourism Experiences at Coffs Coast

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Kangaroos at Coffs Harbour. Courtesy of Shutterstock (YasK), 2022.

As of last month, the Coffs Coast has officially become New South Wales' first Eco Destination, certified by Ecotourism Australia! This certification is a wonderful achievement for both the local tourism industry and Aboriginal community, as it means there will be more sustainable practices being put into place for high-quality nature-based tourism that respects the Indigenous culture of the Coffs Harbour region.

If you’re looking for places to travel to during these holidays, consider checking out the many incredible Aboriginal cultural experiences that the breathtaking Coffs Coast has to offer. To help you get started, we’ve compiled a list of places to visit from Aboriginal guided bushwalking tours, to stunning local art galleries and exhibitions, to delicious bush tucker taste tests (Coffs Coast, 2021).

Aboriginal Heritage of the Coffs Coast

At the heart of Coffs Harbour are the Traditional Owners, the Gumbaynggirr peoples, who were traditionally known by other Aboriginal nations as 'the sharing people,' as their lands were so rich that food and other natural resources were shared with other Aboriginal people. 

The Gumbaynggirr Nation is one of the largest coastal Aboriginal nations in New South Wales, stretching from the Nambucca River in the South, to the Clarence River in the North and the Great Dividing Range in the West (Coffs Collection, 2022).

Gumbaynggirr Cultural Rainforest Tour 

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Dorrigo National Park. Courtesy of Coffs Coast (Gary Bell), 2021.

These school holidays, join the National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) Ranger and Gumbaynggirr man Matthew in a family-friendly interactive tour through the World-Heritage listed Gondwana Rainforest at Dorrigo National Park. Starting at the Dorrigo Rainforest Centre, the tour takes walkers along the sealed Wonga Walking track where Matthew will share stories and knowledge about Gumbaynggirr culture, which has been a part of this subtropical rainforest for thousands of years. On this walk, enjoy panoramic views of Coffs Harbour City, the Great Dividing Range and the Solitary Islands.

Matthew will also teach you about the traditional bush foods and materials that the Gumbaynggirr people use from the rainforest. Your whole family will come away with an appreciation of how the local First Nations peoples sustainably care for the national park’s rich biodiversity (NPWS, 2021).

Don't miss out on the upcoming event dates for Wednesday 5 January, 12 January, 19 January 2022! 

Book online at the NPWS website, or via their Facebook here.

Gumgali Track - Orara East State Forest

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The Gumgali Track ends at the Korora Lookout. Courtesy of NSW Forestry, 2022.

Enjoy a unique interpretive walk along the Gumgali Track, located in the stunning Orara East State Forest, where you will learn about the local Dreaming story of 'Gumgali' the Black Goanna. Upon arrival, at the head of the track at Sealy Lookout, Gumbaynggirr Elder Uncle Mark Flanders will conduct a Welcome to Country ceremony.

The track is a short one-way walking track that follows the ridge line from the Korora Lookout  carpark, through to the lookout itself. Along the track, attendees will encounter locally-made goanna sculptures, mural art and signage in the local Gumbaynggirr language. Your kids will love finding these hidden goanna sculptures amongst trees and shrubs. The timber public art and striking 30 metre mural provides a fun place for visitors to capture some family pictures or grab a seat for a snack break. 

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Hidden goanna sculptures along the Gumgali Track. Courtesy of Coffs Trails, 2021.

When you reach the end of the track at the Korora Lookout, visitors can listen to the story of Gumgali in both English and Gumbaynggirr at the sound bar. Conclude the track, looking out at the stunning broader coastal ocean views from the viewing platform (Visit NSW, 2022).

Wadjar Regional Indigenous Gallery

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Wadjar Regional Indigenous Gallery. Courtesy of Visit NSW, 2022.

Grab a coffee at The Pipeclay Café while you check out the gorgeous Wadjar Regional Indigenous Gallery at the Yarrawarra Aboriginal Cultural Centre. The gallery is a significant cultural hub for the local community and Indigenous visual artists and craftspeople in the Mid North Coast and Northern Rivers region of Coffs Harbour. The gallery aims to educate the public on Gumbaynggirr Aboriginal culture, visual arts and aboriginal history (Yarrawarra, 2022). 

Flavours of the Bush: Bush Tucker and Medicine Tour & Tasting

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Bush tucker tour. Courtesy of Yarrawarra, 2022.

The Yarrawarra Aboriginal Cultural Centre, located at Corindi Beach to the north of Coffs Harbour, invites visitors to experience Gumbaynggirr Culture through their monthly Bushtucker & Medicine Tour and Tasting. On the tour you will get to walk through lush coastal heath and wetlands as one of the tour guides educates you about the surrounding bush foods, medicines and fibre plants used for healing and weaving by the Gumbaynggirr peoples. Afterwards, the tour will end at the cultural centre's Pipeclay Café where you will get to try authentic bush flavours from their original menu, such as wattleseed, quandong, saltbush, lemon myrtle and warrigal greens (Coffs Coast, 2022).

Pipeclay-café

The Pipeclay Café. Courtesy of Coffs Coast, 2022.

Wajaana Yaam Gumbaynggirr Adventure Tours 

Wajaana Yaam Adventure Tours is a social enterprise by local Bularri Muurlay Nyanggan Aboriginal Corporation (BMNAC) that offers stand-up paddleboard (SUP) and walking tours. Enjoy a 2.5 hour SUP tour along stunning creeks located on the homelands of the Gumbaynggirr tribal nation. Along the way, the Gumbaynggirr guides will share their ancient stories about the surrounding landscapes and introduce you to its bush tucker. 

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Wajaana Yaam Gumbaynggirr Adventure Tours. Courtesy of Visit NSW, 2022.

These tours are significant to the local Gumbaynggirr community as they provide aboriginal community members with employment opportunities ,as well as the opportunity to continue intergenerational cultural knowledge. As a social enterprise by BMNAC, a proportion of the profits are invested into BMNAC's after school learning centres, extensive language revitalisation initiatives and kids cultural camps (Wajaana Yaam Gumbaynggirr Adventure Tours, 2021).