The Northern Territory is the perfect place to learn about Indigenous Australia, to witness the connection between Indigenous Peoples and the land, and to appreciate the unique art that developed within the oldest living culture of the world. Learning the stories of the traditional custody of the land can also lead to environmentally responsible tourism.
Go on a tour of the Northern Territory
By far the best way to explore this vast land is to immerse yourself in the local culture and make a positive contribution to Indigenous communities with your tourism dollar. You can do this by choosing a travel agency that owns or employs local native guides and promotes understanding of the environment. Tourism Australia Discover Indigenous Experiences is a comprehensive resource.
In the Top End, popular destinations are Kakadu, Litchfield and Nitmiluk National Parks and Western Arnhem Land. Kakadu Cultural Tours belongs to the Djabulukgu Association, which represents the inhabitants of northern Kakadu and western Arnhem Land. He is well positioned to provide expert local advice on his range of tours.
The Guluyambi Cultural Cruise on the East Alligator River is a great way to see wildlife and learn how it supports the locals all year round. Also in Kakadu, but in the south, is the remarkable Yellow Waters Cruises in Cooinda. Cruises, best at sunrise, are a highlight of Kakadu National Park, with spectacular wetland views, varied birdlife, expert commentary, and one of your best chances of spotting a croc up close in its natural habitat.
Also based in Cooinda, Kakadu animal tracks takes you around the country with a native guide for an unforgettable hands-on experience of bush food hunting, gathering and tasting.
With the chance to see bizarre termite mounds aligned with the Earth’s magnetic field, hike through the rainforest monsoon, and swim under a waterfall, Litchfield National Park has it all – and just an excursion from a day from Darwin. Ethical adventures is a small group travel agency that focuses on Top End destinations, particularly Litchfield. With an emphasis on environmental awareness and education as well as good leisure activities, this is a great vision of responsible tourism.
A must see destination in the Top End is the spectacular Nitmiluk (Katherine) Gorge National Park. Nitmiluk tours, owned and managed by the Jaowyn Association, offers a range of tours, including unique ‘Step by Step’ cultural immersion tours, guided walks, canoe safaris and helicopter flights.
Around Alice Springs in the beautiful McDonnell Ranges, across from Kings Canyon (Wartarrka National Park) and up to Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park, you can join Aboriginal guides to learn about traditional customs and listen to the stories. dream of the red center. Trek Larapinta is a small-group travel agency that takes hikers along the spectacular Larapinta Trail. With a focus on sustainability, the company offers programs for volunteers to help with trail maintenance and upkeep, including weed removal and erosion control.
Aboriginal art sites and art centers
The paintings depicted in rock shelters in Kakadu National Park, Arnhem Land and Nitmiluk National Park date back thousands of years. Painting styles have changed dramatically over the centuries, and newer art can often be layered on top of older art. The iconic, abstract art of Central Australian dot painting, known as Western Desert painting, has its roots in the stories and law of the desert people and was traditionally depicted in the fleeting sands of the desert and body art. The use of acrylic and canvas is a relatively recent adaptation that began in Papunya, 150 miles northwest of Alice Springs, in 1971, and helped make Aboriginal art a place of choice in the world.
Today, few visitors to the Northern Territory will want to leave without an Aboriginal work of art to remember their experiences with this timeless culture and its contemporary custodians. For the artists themselves, painting is not only a cultural enhancement, but also an individual and economic importance. Genuine pieces usually come with a certificate naming the artist, language group, and community. For a list of Indigenous artists, art dealers and businesses, see the list at Native Art Code.
To discover the art and meet the artists, visit these Indigenous-owned art centers (among others) located across the Northern Territory.
- Indigenous bush traders, Darwin. Ethical non-profit outlet representing Indigenous artists.
- Ghunmarn Cultural Center, Wugularr (Beswick). Art of Western Arnhem Land; also has a gallery in Katherine.
- Iltja Ntjarra Art Center (Many Hands), Alice Springs. Specialized in watercolors of the Hermannsburg school and made famous by Albert Namatjira.
- Injalak Arts, Gunbalanya (Oenpelli). Art and rock art tours in Arnhem Land.
- Marrawuddi Gallery, Jabiru. Art created by the Bininj people of Kakadu.
- Nyinka Nyunyu Art and Culture Center, Tennant Creek. Artists from the Warumungu and Barkly region.
- Artists Papunya Tula, Alice Springs. Depicts artists primarily from the language groups of the Western Desert where the contemporary acrylic embodiment of dot painting began.
- Talapi, Alice Springs. His works of art come directly from art centers owned by Aboriginal people.
- Tangentyere artists, Alice Springs. Representing over 400 artists using a range of media from across Central Australia.
- Tiwi Art Network, Darwin. A gallery representing three art centers of the Tiwi Islands.
- The weavers of the Tjanpi desert, Alice Springs. Contemporary weavings by women artists from the regions of the central and western desert.
- Maruku Arts, Uluru. Owned and operated by Anangu. Sells art and organizes tours and dot painting lessons.
- Walkatjara Art Center, Uluru. Owned by the local Mutitjulu community of Uluru.