Aboriginal cultural experiences: Queensland

You can't go past the Sunshine State for diverse, dynamic Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultural experiences.

Kids learn about the didgeridoo at the Spirits of the Red Sand experience. Queensland is full of opportunities to delve into the diverse culture of Aboriginal Australia. Image credit: Archie Sartracom/Tourism Australia
  • Jetstar
  • March 2022

Whether you’re visiting Meanjin (Brisbane), the Gold Coast or heading further north, you'll have plenty of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultural experiences to choose from in Queensland. Join an island tour or coastal hike, watch time-honoured ceremonies and admire captivating art: the possibilities are almost endless. Here are some of our top picks.

Gold Coast experiences

Jellurgal Cultural Centre

Owned and operated by the local First Nations community, Jellurgal Cultural Centre offers wonderful walking tours around Burleigh Head, otherwise known as Jellurgal (the Dreaming Mountain). Guided by a Traditional Custodian, you’ll hear Dreamtime stories about the creation of this gorgeous area and learn about bush tucker and traditional ecological practices. They even offer special kids’ tours.

Aboriginal tour guide from Jellurgal Cultural Centre leads tourists around Burleigh Head, sharing the area's Indigenous heritage with them.
Explore Burleigh Head’s rich First Nations heritage on this scenic walking tour. Image credit: Tourism and Events Queensland

Spirits of the Red Sand

Participate in ancient Indigenous culture amid the historic surrounds of a pre-European village with Spirits of the Red Sand. As well as experiencing a cleansing smoking ceremony and Welcome to Country, you’ll be introduced to didgeridoo-playing, boomerang-painting and spear-throwing. You’ll also get to sample bush tucker and learn about traditional life, while connecting with local Yugambeh and Kombomerri people.

Traditional Aboriginal smoking ceremony at Spirits of the Red Sand. Image credit: Tourism and Events Queensland
Experience an authentic smoking ceremony at Spirits of the Red Sand.

Brisbane experiences

Birrunga Gallery

Located in the heart of the CBD, the award-winning Birrunga Gallery is a must-see for anyone interested in contemporary First Nations art. With six resident artists (including gallery founder, Birrunga Wiradyuri) regular exhibitions and no entry fee, there’s always something to check out. Be sure to visit the excellent gift shop and refuel at the onsite café serving modern Australian cuisine with a tasty ‘Native twist’.

First Nations artist explaining his painting to tourists at Birrunga Aboriginal art gallery, Brisbane. Image credit: Tourism and Events Queensland.
Birrunga Gallery will deepen your appreciation and understanding of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander art. Image credit: Tourism and Events Queensland

Goompi Trail, Stradbroke Island

Join Quandamooka man Matthew Burns at Goompi (Dunwich) on Stradbroke Island for this absorbing cultural experience. You’ll learn about the area’s history before (and after) European settlement, as well as bush medicine, bush tucker and timeless practices such as spear throwing. Explore the foreshore (where you’ll see an ancient midden), and soak up those stunning Moreton Bay views…

Tour group learning about Quandamooka culture on the foreshore at Stradbroke Island
Discover the significance of the Goompi foreshore to the local Quandamooka people.

Hervey Bay

Turtle Discovery Ecotour

Enjoy the underwater panorama from your glass-bottomed boat on this relaxing excursion through the glorious Great Sandy Marine Park. Your local Butchulla guide will point out significant landmarks and share their Aboriginal names; you’ll also get the chance to snorkel and swim (weather permitting). Expect to see plenty of aquatic critters, too: from turtles and fish to dolphins, sea birds and dugongs.

Tour group watching a Butchulla man perform a traditional dance on the beach with Turtle Discovery Eco Tour, Great Sandy Marine Park.
Learn about the Butchulla people’s deep connection to the Great Sandy Marine Park on this unforgettable tour.

The Tropical North

Pamagirri Aboriginal Experience, Cairns

Culture dating back millennia endures in the Tropical North, and at the Rainforestation Nature Park, you can experience it up close. First, enjoy a dance performance depicting traditional life in the region in the Rainforest Amphitheatre. Afterwards, join a Traditional Custodian on a rainforest walk and discover Dreamtime stories, beliefs and customs that continue to resonate today. Spellbinding.

 Aboriginal man shows tourists how to throw a spear at the Pamagirri Aboriginal Experience, Queensland.
Soak up timeless First Nations culture in a stunning rainforest setting with the Pamagirri Aboriginal Experience.

Jezzine Barracks Public Art, Townsville

Perched on the poetically named Kissing Point headland, Townsville’s Jezzine Barracks is significant for both its military and First Nations history. More than 30 public artworks by local Indigenous and non-Indigenous artists are dotted around this heritage precinct, commemorating its multi-faceted past, and are well worth exploring. Plus, they just happen to come with a sublime Coral Sea vista!

Aboriginal sculpture depicting two people in a canoe, Jezzine Barracks, Townsville. Image credit: Tourism and Events Queensland/Budd Photography
One of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander artworks you’ll see at Townsville’s Jezzine Barracks. You can wander around the site for free. Image credit: Tourism and Events Queensland/Budd Photography