4-day Darwin cultural experienceImmerse yourself in the local culture of the NT
The Top End, so remote from the rest of the world, celebrates Aboriginal Australian culture and provides you with a remarkable array of experiences and stories to take home.
Meet smiling Tiwi Islanders and weave a story with them. You’ll learn about the ancient traditions of Australia’s oldest living culture, and have the opportunity to view some of the oldest artworks in the world.
Your cultural tour of the Top End
The Top End of Australia is a place like no other, with unique and remarkable stories to tell. To invigorate your senses and connect you with the stories of this ancient land, we’ve designed an incredible 4-day tour of the Top End that explores the many forms of art that have endured the test of time.
All you need to do is book your place on the tours suggested. Then, you’ll be in the hands of some very knowledgeable local guides who will generously share their people’s stories and help you create stories of your own.
Explore the galleries in town
The art galleries around Darwin are the perfect place to get acquainted with Aboriginal art and artists from around the region. A stroll around Darwin’s CBD will reveal respected galleries like Mbantua Fine Art Gallery and Mason Gallery. Head out to the Northern Centre for Contemporary Art in Parap for a broader view of the Territory’s art scene.
Time your visit to MAGNT
Give yourself plenty of time to get to the Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory, which offers a fascinating and broad overview of the region’s Aboriginal art and history. The museum and gallery, set in a scenic location overlooking the Arafura Sea, is home to a collection of over 1.2 million natural history specimens and over 30,000 items of art and material culture. You can also grab a drink and bite to eat at the café that overlooks the spectacular Darwin Harbour.
Sunset beer at the Darwin Ski Club
For cultural immersion of a different kind, pop across the road from the art gallery just before sunset. The Darwin Ski Club is the perfect place to end your first day in Darwin. Grab an ice-cold beverage, order snacks or something heartier from the bistro, and watch the sun set over Fannie Bay.
A quick coffee in Cullen Bay
You’ve got an early start today as you’re boarding the SeaLink Ferry to the Tiwi Islands before 8am. So set the alarm and head to Cullen Bay (that’s where you’ll find the SeaLink terminal) in plenty of time to fuel up with a coffee and breakfast. Try the Boatshed Coffee House if you’re after food with a view of all the boats bobbing in the marina and bowl-sized coffees.
All aboard the Tiwi Islands ferry
SeaLink runs day tours to the Tiwi Islands, giving you the opportunity to experience the remarkable culture of this intriguing place. The ferry takes 2.5 hours to get from Cullen Bay to Wurrumiyanga on Bathurst Island. Sit back and enjoy the cruisy ride across the waters of Beagle Gulf. On arrival at Wurrumiyanga, you’re welcomed with a traditional totem dance and smoking ceremony, and the cultural immersion begins.
Explore the art & culture of Tiwi Islands
Wurrumiyanga boasts three art centres, the Patakijiyali Museum, the old Catholic mission precinct, as well as Pukamani (burial) poles in the cemetery. Your local Tiwi guide will walk with you around the town, where you can see the paintings, carvings, tutini poles and ceramics the islands are famous for; as well as contemporary screen prints, woven accessories and sculptures. You can also meet and purchase work directly from the artists.
During the day, sit down for morning tea with artists and enjoy a traditional lunch with the Tiwi ladies.
Load up your 4WD for a Kakadu adventure
Having experienced the unique culture of the Tiwi Islands yesterday, it’s time to set off on the next leg of your cultural tour of the Top End. Today, you’ll be driving a few hours east of Darwin to the iconic Kakadu National Park. Hire a 4WD, hit the road early and get set to experience one of the most remarkable places on earth.
Watch for crocs at Cahill’s Crossing
Before you check in to your accommodation at Jabiru, head to the infamous Cahill’s Crossing, which takes you across the East Alligator River and into Arnhem Land. Before you cross, pause to watch the locals fishing off the shallow crossing, known to be home to many large saltwater crocs. You’ll need a permit to enter Arnhem Land; you can organise one before you leave Darwin.
Call in to see artists at work in Arnhem Land
Crossing the river from Kakadu, the first community on the western side of Arnhem Land is Gunbalanya (Oenpelli). Call in to see artists at work and to buy baskets and paintings at the famous Injalak Art and Craft Centre. Join a tour led by an Aboriginal guide to Injalak Hill to see ancient rock art and hear Dreamtime stories.
Settle in at Jabiru
Your base for the next 2 nights is the Anbinik Kakadu Resort in Jabiru, the small town in the heart of Kakadu. Take a dip in the swimming pool to freshen up after the day’s adventures. Then, it’s a short stroll to the town centre or simply kick back and relax at the resort’s café or Anbinik restaurant.
Meet your Kakadu tour guide
You’re spending today with a wonderful guide from Ayal Aboriginal Tours, who’ll take you on a tour to places that have stood the test of time. This day-long cultural immersion into the stories and history of the people of this region is a memorable experience, to say the least.
View remarkable rock art at Ubirr
Ubirr is one of the most respected rock art sites in the world. Your guide will give you an insight into the Aboriginal culture associated with some of these intriguing works of art, including how people lived, hunted and gathered. You’ll see paintings of spirit characters and the famous “X-ray art”, depicting the internal structure of some of the animals of this country.
Rest beside a billabong
Your tour also takes you to the breathtaking Anbangbang Billabong, renowned for its spectacular birdlife and paperbark swamp. Learn about the local Aboriginal bush tucker and enjoy magnificent views of Nourlangie across the billabong.
Find a treasure at Marrawuddi Art Gallery
Your final stop on this incredible tour of Kakadu is the Marrawuddi Art Gallery, where every piece of original artwork has been created by people living in and around Kakadu National Park. Find a piece of art that you love and buy with the good conscience that all profits from this gallery go back into the local community.
Visit a 20,000-year-old outdoor gallery
The Burrungkuy (Nourlangie) rock art site is a must-stop on your journey through Kakadu. Here, amongst towering rocks and cavernous spaces, Aboriginal people gathered for tens of thousands of years. Your guide will share extraordinary stories of the images that have been entrusted to him by the 3 caretaker Aboriginal clan groups of the region, and you’ll learn how Aboriginal people lived here during the wet and dry seasons.
Overnight at Jabiru
Spend one more night at Anbinik Kakadu Resort in Jabiru before hitting the road the next day in time for your flight home from Darwin. As you drive west, reflect on all that you have seen and the many stories you have heard. You’ve just experienced the oldest Australian culture at its best.
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