An Australian Traveller Great Indigenous Experience feature on Kepa Kurl Cultural Discovery Tours in Esperance, WA.
Australia has 132,000km of coastline dotted with some of the most awesome beaches in the world. So is it possible to say which is No.1? Absolutely. It’s near Esperance on the southeast coast of WA.
“That’s my office,” says Doc Reynolds, one of the Aboriginal owners and guides of kepa kurl Cultural Discovery Tours, waving his hand towards the squeaky white sands of Lucky Beach. Our 4WD races along the hard-packed shoreline. This is a cultural tour with a difference.
“kepa kurl is the Aboriginal name for Esperance,” Doc continues. “kepa is water and kurl boomerang. So putting it all together it is ‘where the water lies like a boomerang’.” Looking along the curving coastline, the wisdom of the ancients in choosing this name is evident.
kepa kurl Cultural Discovery Tours is owned and operated by Doc, his sister Gail Reynolds-Adamson and both of their families. Doc and Gail are members of the southeast section of the Noongar clan. “With our intimate knowledge in Aboriginal culture we wanted to build a business that would be educational and informative,” says Gail. “We concentrate on the five main elements,” adds Doc. “The land, the law, the language, the tribal kinships and the spiritual realm. We believe all cultures revolve around these.”
The 4WD trek along the beachfront stops. Doc leads the way, demonstrating how the coastal eco habitat has supported the Noongar people for generations. Everywhere is a wealth of food sources – plant and animal, although not so obvious to the untrained eye. The surprise is the fresh water bubbling along the sand surface. What a treat to sip nature’s sweet liquor just as Doc’s ancestors once did.
Whether it’s viewing the southernmost rock art in the state or being introduced to the simplicity of old-time hunting and gathering techniques, kepa kurl wants visitors to gain an appreciation of the diversity of Aboriginal culture.
The only sounds to be heard are of the waves rolling onto the beach. The only vistas are of the pristine environment. The only people, us. “I let people sit in my ‘office’ and absorb the beauty of the region,” says Doc. “Here they can understand my people and my culture and feel the spiritual connection.”
DETAILS // Kepa Kurl Cultural Discovery Tours
Located in the Esperance Museum Village (corner of Dempster and Kemp St), a variety of coastal bush food and seafood tours are run, as well as rock art tours, visits to Wave Rock, whale tours from mid-Sept to mid-Oct, wetland tours and eco-cultural tours. All tours include full cultural commentary, Dreamtime stories and tasting bush foods. Added extras for half-day tour include morning tea, billy tea, damper and bush jam. Day tour extras also include lunch and afternoon tea.