Australia’s Aboriginal People have called New South Wales home for more than 60,000 years, resulting in rich traditions, art and crafts, music and culture. Celebrate in galleries, on tours, during smoking ceremonies and at festivals.
Things to see & do
Aboriginal experiences in NSW
Aboriginal experiences in NSW
Traditional ceremonies & stories
At once ancient and contemporary, a smoking ceremony has a number of purposes. The process involves smouldering native plants to create a herbal smoke, believed to have spiritual and physical cleansing properties, and also believed to ward off evil spirits. Experience this tradition with Aboriginal guides on Unkya Local Aboriginal Land Council Cultural Eco Tours on the mid-North Coast, or on the South Coast with Ngaran Ngaran Culture Awareness, where your experience also includes yarning circles and ancient healing practices.
The Yuin People have long felt a connection to the land in south of the state. And you can discover their ancient Songlines on self-guided walking tracks like the Bingi Dreaming track in Eurobodalla. It’s a similar story when you meet Mark Saddler in Wagga Wagga to discover ancient Dreamtime stories on one of his Bundyi Aboriginal Cultural Knowledge tours. Then in the far north, take a tour with Explore Byron Bay to learn about traditional storytelling guided by Delta Kay, an Arakwal Bundjalung woman.
It’s quite remarkable that you can visit the NSW outback and discover Aboriginal rock art – including paintings, drawings and engravings – that date back millennia. Marvel in the historic significance of handprints and stencils in Red Hands Cave in the Blue Mountains, or take a deep dive into the significance of the artefacts with an Aboriginal guide from Blue Mountains Walkabout.
It’s an easy walk to Ngiyampaa rock art at Mount Grenfell Historic Site near Cobar in the central west, with hand stencils and white pipeclay telling an ancient story through stick figures and images of animals, birds, medicine and foods. Meanwhile, Mutawintji Heritage Tours offers half- and full-day tours to Mutawintji Historic Site, an ancient landscape near Broken Hill, home to one of the state’s most extensive (and well-preserved) collections of rock engravings and ochre stencils. This is only accessible with an Aboriginal guide, who will share Dreamtime stories that provide insight into the history and meaning behind the destination.
Arts & crafts
Sydney has its fair share of impressive galleries hero-ing Indigenous art, but regional NSW also celebrates Aboriginal creatives, from the coast to the countryside. Visit Wollongong Art Gallery, the Lake Macquarie City Art Gallery and the Bank Art Museum Moree to discover Aboriginal art from both emerging and established artists. Then in Outback NSW you’ll find artworks from some of Australia’s most respected Indigenous creatives at the Broken Hill Regional Art Gallery. The Yarrawarra Aboriginal Centre in Coffs Harbour not only has a gallery stocked with coveted arts and crafts, but also a café where you can sample bush tucker.
Not all art is indoors: Follow the Wagirra Trail and Yindyamarra Sculpture Walk along the banks of the mighty Murray River in Albury to witness larger-than-life installations by Aboriginal artists. Or see how a didgeridoo is made in Narrandera at Sandhills Artefacts.
As with most cultures, music and dance are a fundamental component of Aboriginal life – past and present. Enjoy the beats of established and emerging musicians at the Boomerang Festival, held as part of the annual Byron Bay Bluesfest, alongside talks, workshops and dance performances.
Head to Tamworth for music, dance and storytelling at the Aboriginal Cultural Showcase, held across six days as part of the Tamworth Music Festival. This is a chance to celebrate the talent of emerging Aboriginal musicians, performers and craftspeople in at one of Australia’s most dynamic live music events – expect plenty of country swagger.
NAIDOC Week takes place each July with events across the state to celebrate the history, culture and achievements of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. And with it, you can expect a slew of cultural celebrations – music, dance, workshops, ceremonies, tours… and so much more. The National Indigenous Art Fair (NIAF) takes place during NAIDOC Week and at various times throughout the year in La Perouse.