Aboriginal cultural experiences: New South Wales

From saltwater heritage to sand dunes via art, nature and bush tucker: Aboriginal New South Wales awaits.

Aboriginal tour guide chats to tourists in Sydney Royal Botanic Garden with the harbour and Harbour Bridge in background. Image credit: Destination NSW
  • Jetstar
  • Updated March 2022

You’re never far from an unforgettable Aboriginal cultural experience in New South Wales, where the energy, creativity and history of more than 80 language groups are a vital part of the state’s identity. Here are some of our favourite activities in Warrane (Sydney) and regional NSW.

Sydney

The Rocks Aboriginal Dreaming Tour (Illi Langi)

Journey through time on this captivating walkabout through The Rocks, where the Dreamtime, colonial history and 21st-century Australia intersect. Visiting culturally significant sites in the area, you’ll learn about the local First Nations people’s saltwater heritage and spiritual connection to Sydney Harbour and surrounding waterways. It’s striking how this ancient wisdom colours the Harbour City to this day.

Aboriginal woman leads a tour group in the Rocks, Sydney, New South Wales. Image credit: Destination NSW
Get to know another aspect of The Rocks on the Aboriginal Dreaming Tour. Image credit: Destination NSW

Aboriginal Harbour Heritage Tour, Royal Botanic Garden

It doesn’t get much more idyllic than this: strolling through the Royal Botanic Garden and along the Sydney Harbour foreshore with your First Nations guide, listening to stories of Gadigal history, traditions and culture. The site of the garden was important to the Traditional Owners well before European settlement, and you’ll learn about its local significance on this fascinating tour.

Young Aboriginal woman shows two elderly tourists a plant at the Royal Botanic Garden, Sydney.
There’s more to the Royal Botanic Garden than meets the eye, as you’ll discover on the Aboriginal Harbour Heritage Tour.

Boomalli Art Gallery

Promoting and supporting First Nations artists from across NSW, Boomalli (meaning ‘to mark a mark’) was established in 1987 and is still going strong. Their exhibitions are always worth catching – if you’re around at the right time, don't miss their annual Mardi-Gras-themed show. And who knows? You may even end up with your own stunning piece by a rising art star...

smiling Aboriginal artist in front of two of her paintings at Boomalli Gallery, Sydney. Image credit: Boomalli Gallery.
Located in Sydney’s inner-west, Boomalli Gallery is where you’ll find work by talented, up-and-coming Aboriginal artists like Kyra Kum-Sing (pictured). Image credit: Boomalli Gallery

National park day trips

Just outside Sydney, you’ll find the breathtaking bushland of Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park (to the north) and Royal National Park (to the south), both of which offer Aboriginal walking tours. The parks are of great significance to local First Nations people: you'll see ancient rock art and engravings, ornamental trees and other historic traces from pre-colonial times. Self-guided heritage walks are also possible.

Tour guide sits on rock in Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park, Sydney, with two tourists.
Join a guided tour to discover Ku-Ring-Gai National Park’s rich Indigenous heritage.

Regional New South Wales

Stockton Beach Quad Bike Adventure Tours (Newcastle)

For an adrenaline hit with your cultural experience, look no further than this action-packed quad-bike tour of the towering sand dunes at Stockton Beach, just 30 minutes from Newcastle. Operated by the Worimi Local Aboriginal Land Council, the tour takes in age-old local history and stories, while celebrating the Worimi’s enduring connection to this very special Country. The views aren’t bad, either!

Two quad bikers ride on a sand dune at Stockton Beach, Newcastle. Image credit: Destination Port Stephens
Adventure, action and the world’s old continuous culture combine at the Stockton Beach sand dunes, near Newcastle. Image credit: Destination Port Stephens

Bangalow Bush Tucker Tour with Delta Kay (Byron Bay)

Bring your appetite to this tasty and informative bush-tucker tour with Arakwal Bundjalung elder, Delta Kay. As well as showing you which plants are edible, and which have medicinal or other uses, Delta will share traditional stories and even some Bundjalung language tips. And, of course, you'll get the opportunity to sample some delicious bush tucker!

Delta Kay tells a tour group about bush tucker near Byron Bay. Image credit: Wendy Bithell, Vision Walks Eco-Tours
Impress your foodie friends with the bush-tucker knowledge you gain on this tour! Image credit: Wendy Bithell, Vision Walks Eco-Tours