Some of the most magical experiences you can witness in the Kimberley aren’t the ones in all the guide books. We’ve got the low down on the best authentic aboriginal experiences in the Kimberley.
Bart Pigram likes to describe his walking tours through Broome as a reconciliation between cultures. While beginning the journey is about treading deep red Earth, finding anemones in the mangroves and catching mud crabs in a tribal meeting place, by the end there’s a sense that a special exchange has happened between a Yawuru man who’s told the story of his people and home, and you, the listener who’s wanted to learn from his wisdom. That the reconciliation has been so natural and genuine makes it even better.
Experiences like this can be found across the Kimberley, if you know where to look. Here’s where to seek them out.
Wander the wonders of Mimbi Caves
Owned and run by traditional owners, the Mimbi Caves open a window into the ancient culture of the Gooniyandi people and the 350-million-year-old rock formations their generations have grown up alongside. Inside the caves, a guide shines torchlight on marine fossils and sedimentary limestone, while telling stories of their people hiding here, so they wouldn’t be taken to work on pastoral stations. It’s important history – and mind-blowing scenery.
Where: 90 kilometres east of Fitzroy Crossing
How: Visit Girlooroo Tours
Camp with Custodians
The Camping with Custodians program is a new way for travellers to camp on Aboriginal land and have the chance to really engage with Western Australia’s traditional owners. It has opened up places you might never otherwise see, run by people you’d never otherwise meet. All fees support remote communities, and genuine appreciation is shown by locals who share stories that allow you to understand their lands through the unique lens of their culture, be it informally or on an organised tour.
Where: Jarlarloo Riwi Mimbi Campground, 90 kilometres east of Fitzroy Crossing and Imintji Campground, at the foot of the Precipice Range, Imintji Roadhouse, Gibb River Road.
See another side of Windjana Gorge
Gaining an insight into a place’s spiritual significance makes it come alive. No longer is it just a transfixing gorge or idyllic waterway to photograph and enjoy, but it has the added wonder of a sacred landform with meaning, a back story, and a connection that has endured for tens of thousands of years. With Bungoolee Tours, Bunuba elders lead travellers first through 350-million-year-old Windjana Gorge, and then into Tunnel Creek, pointing out ancient rock art and freshwater crocodiles while telling stories that you’ll feel rather than see.
Where: Windjana Gorge National Park is 150 kilometres drive by 4WD from Derby.
How: Visit Bungolee Tours to book.
Sweep through Broome
You can choose to walk or sail with Bart Pigram’s Narlijia Tours, or join a 4WD outback expedition with Uptuyu Aboriginal Adventures, leaving from Broome and heading into the Kimberley; the beauteous town of Broome awaits you. Design your own tour or join a multi-day adventure, or sign up for a three-hour experience with Kimberley Cultural Adventures to immerse yourself into Broome’s incredible 40,000-year-old Indigenous history.
Where: Various locations around Broome
See through the eyes of traditional artists
Kimberley Arts Centres aren’t just a place for creative expression; they also act as a community hubs that ensure remote Aboriginal populations can continue long-held traditions while working towards economic independence. Artists from three tribes – the Worrorra, Ngarinyin and Wunumbal – converge on Mowanjum Aboriginal Art and Cultural Centre to carve boab nuts, paint on bark and also forge ahead with modern styles of canvas painting. Many artists are happy for visitors to watch their work, and to have a chat. Same goes in the eastern Kimberley, where more than 100 artists are drawn to Waringarri Aboriginal Arts. Take a tour and watch wood carvings and painted Dreaming stories turn into special crafted pieces. Each centre hosts an annual corroboree that welcomes visitors from every background.
Where: Mowanjum is a 10-kilometre drive from Derby and Waringarri, or 3 kilometres from Kununurra, in front of the Kelly’s Knob sunset lookout.