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Indigenous heritage in Australia

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Many travellers to Australia are interested in the indigenous people of Australia, often collectively referred to as Australian Aborigines or simply Aborigines. This page is a guide to travelling to sites of historic, cultural, natural and religious interest that relate to indigenous Australia.

See

  • Bangarra Dance Theatre, Pier 4/5 Hickson Road, Walsh Bay, Sydney, +61 2 92515333 (, fax: +61 2 92515266), [1]. The Bangarra Dance Theatre combines indigenous history and culture with contemporary dance. They tour Australia-wide.

Destinations

Events

  • January 26, the anniversary of the invasion of the First Fleet, and commemorated officially as Australia Day, is marked by indigenous Australians as Invasion Day, a day of political action, or Survival Day, marked with concerts and community events celebrating the survival of the indigenous peoples.
  • The National Aboriginal and Islander Day Observance Committee [2] has a week of events in winter each year. In 2009 the focus city will be Brisbane.

Respect

The first thing to remember is that there are over 400 aboriginal nations in Australia. It is not right to say that an Aboriginal person in Melbourne is the same as one in Alice Springs - its like saying an Italian is the same as a Sweede.

Indigenous Australia is a group of living, continuing cultures: do not treat them purely as a museum piece arranged for the benefit of curious travellers. Communities, townships and protest sites are not there solely for your benefit and do not treat them as such. When visiting sacred sites or fragile ecosystems of cultural significance many communities would prefer that visitors arrange their trips through formal community programmes.

Indigenous Australians as a group are disadvantaged relative to other Australians in a number of ways including health, education and employment and in some communities quite severely so. The best way for a traveller to contribute to the wellbeing and dignity of the people is to support indigenous-run tourism and cultural ventures and to treat individual indigenous people with respect.

When travelling, you may encounter aboriginal people asking for money or other items. This is called 'Humbug', and should be refused. If humbug is entertained, you only encourage the problem. Rather then giving money to beggers, consider visiting an aboriginal Art centre (there are many around) and support those who are making a living, or if you cant access an art centre, consider giving to an Aboriginal charity, such as Conways Kids[3], a charity in Central Austrlia set up to ensure that cultural Aboriginal Children from remote communities have the same opportunities as youth from the rest of Australia.

It should be remembered that each aboriginal nation has its own ideals, stories and cultures. You must remember that, just like all other cultures, there are good and bad people, and like other cultures, the Good outweigh the Bad - its just the bad that get coverage.

Aboriginal People are the nicest people in the world. Show them respect and they will respect you - you might even learn something too.

See also

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