Experience Aboriginal culture in the Top End7-day itinerary
Spend a week in the Top End of the Northern Territory discovering Aboriginal cultural experiences at your own pace.
Welcome to the tropical city of Darwin on Larrakia Country. Start your trip in the palm-fringed city and travel into the surrounding lands of the Tiwi,Bininj/Mungguy and Jawoyn people.
Over the next 7 days, experience life on Country in the Top End, discover some of the oldest and most renowned rock art sites in the world and visit the dual-listed UNESCO area of Kakadu – recognised for both its natural and cultural importance.
Browse the Museum and Art Gallery of the NT
Start your morning at Aboriginal Bush Traders, located opposite the visitor information centre on Bennett Street in the CBD. Here you can try a bush tucker infused breakfast and grab a coffee to go. Browse the gallery next door and view the latest local exhibition.
Next stop, set the scene with a visit to the Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory (MAGNT). Keep an eye out for the Telstra National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander exhibition, held annually from early August to mid-January featuring First Nations artists from around Australia. For a lunch break, [email protected] is a great stop with a view overlooking the harbour, located on the grounds of the museum.
Looking to browse or buy ethical art? Continue the art journey this afternoon with a visit to other galleries that are members of the Indigenous Art Code including Outstation Gallery in Parap and Readback Books and Aboriginal Gallery in Smith Street Mall.
Take a day trip to the Tiwi Islands
Wake up early and get ready to immerse yourself in a Tiwi cultural tour on the Tiwi Islands. Book with SeaLink, AAT Kings or Tarntipi Bush Camp to learn about the art and cultural history of Bathurst Island. After stepping foot on the island, take part in a Welcome to Country and visit the community art centres where you can meet the artists at work.
The Tiwi Islands is renowned for its annual Tiwi Islands Football Grand Final and Art Sale, held every March in a celebration of football and community. To visit the Tiwi Islands, the best option is to book a day tour from Darwin.
See World Heritage-listed rock art sites in Kakadu
Hire a car in Darwin or take your own vehicle for a road trip to Kakadu National Park, approximately 250km from the city. Make sure to take plenty of water and a full tank of petrol before setting off. A park pass is required to visit the Bininj/Mungguy lands of Kakadu.
Your first stop along the Arnhem Highway is Pudakul Aboriginal Cultural Tours, less than an hour from Darwin. Learn from the traditional owners and custodians of Limilngan-Wulna land as you walk through the property discovering traditional techniques from bush tucker to basket weaving.
Continue past the entrance to Kakadu and onwards to the Bowali Visitor Centre to discover what’s on inside the Park and check the latest information on road conditions. Next stop, head to the township of Jabiru and visit Marrawuddi Gallery, located across the road from the Mercure Kakadu Crocodile Hotel. The gallery is a hub for Kakadu and West Arnhem artists and is listed on the Indigenous Art Code to purchase ethically produced works.
Check into your accommodation for your overnight stay in Jabiru then drive to Ubirr for sunset. Wear sturdy shoes and leave yourself plenty of time to walk through the rock art galleries, among the best in the world. At the top of the lookout, admire the stunning colours of the Nadab floodplains stretching as far as the eye can see before making your way to the car and departing back to Jabiru for the evening.
Go further on a cultural tour
Walk through the rock art shelters at Burrungkuy (Nourlangie) with Yibekka Kakadu Rock Art Tours on a 1.5-hour guided experience to discover paintings dating more than 20,000 years. Kakadu’s rock art is regarded as one of the longest historical records of any group of people on Earth.
After your tour, return to Jabiru for lunch and prepare for your afternoon adventure with Ayal Aboriginal Cultural Tours. Take an air-conditioned 4WD to the Gabarlgu Billabong and the South Alligator mangrove forest. The tour includes afternoon tea and transport back to your accommodation for the evening.
Listen to local knowledge on a Yellow Water Billabong Cruise
Being an early bird in Kakadu reaps its rewards and the (Ngurrungurrudjba) Yellow Water Billabong Cruise at sunrise is as spectacular as it gets. Learn the traditional names of wildlife that inhabit the area and get an up-close view of the crocodiles that call the national park home. After the cruise, check out and take the 3-hour drive to Katherine to check into your accommodation for 2 nights.
Get familiar with the town on a visit to the Godinymayin Yijard River Arts and Culture Centre, a community cultural space that showcases performance projects, local exhibitions and Aboriginal art.
The centre has an on-site café for visitors to enjoy. This afternoon you have the option for sunset on the lands of the Jawoyn people at Baruwei Lookout at Nitmiluk Gorge or to go for dinner at Kumbidjee restaurant located on Gorge Road.
Explore the natural magnificence of Nitmiluk Gorge
Start the day with a visit to Top Didj Cultural Tours and Art Gallery, located on Gorge Road, just before Nitmiluk Gorge. Book ahead for the 2.5-hour morning tour where you’ll learn first-hand from Top End Aboriginal artist, Manuel, a great story teller and teacher. Next stop, head to the Nitmiluk Visitor Centre located at Nitmiluk Gorge to prepare for you afternoon experience.
The Nitmiluk Tours Ancient Garlarr River Safari allows you to go deeper into the 13-gorge system and discover Jawoyn stories from the traditional owners with visits to the well preserved rock art galleries. Make the most of the afternoon as the sun starts to set and the colours on the gorge walls change into the evening.
End the week with a sunset at Bundilla Beach
After a week around the Top End, it’s time to head back to Larrakia Country. Arrive in town, relax and reflect over a sunset on Country at Bundilla Beach where you can walk along the coastline and look out over the water. There are plenty of restaurants nearby for a sundowner.
Start planning your trip to the NT and discover more Aboriginal cultural experiences on offer.