Discover more about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture in Australia with these top Indigenous tours in Queensland. There is much to learn about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture in Australia, and it can be hard to know where to start. These tours offer insights and inspiration and the opportunity to connect meaningfully.

Top Indigenous Tours in Queensland

I have experienced many of these tours in Queensland, and my understanding has grown each time.  It is enlightening to see the world through different eyes, especially when they are so connected to the beauty of the natural environment.  It’s an opportunity all should embrace.

Couple enjoying the sun setting over Lady Musgrave Island, from their glamping bed on Lady Musgrave HQ Pontoon

Top Indigenous Tours in Queensland Lady Musgrave Experience pontoon
Lady Musgrave Island Lagoon

Djajun Bunda

Djagun Bunda is a three-day immersive cultural experience curated by Lady Musgrave Experience and Taribelang Bunda Cultural Tours for guests staying onboard Lady Musgrave HQ pontoon on the Southern Great Barrier Reef off Bundaberg. Guests have the opportunity to learn Aboriginal culture and history combined with encounters with Lady Musgraves’s abundant marine life and coral. At night there’s a queen glamping bed under the stars on the zero-carbon footprint Lady Musgrave HQ pontoon. If sleeping underwater next to the fishes tickles your fancy, a single bunk bed in the underwater observatory is another accommodation option. This tour includes with catamaran transfers, two nights’ accommodation, breakfast, lunch and dinner, reef activities and tours.

Find out more at Lady Musgrave Experience.

Cost: Queen glamping bed twin share $1662. Underwater Observatory $1800

Location:  Lady Musgrave Island is a 14-hectare coral cay on the Great Barrier Reef, surrounded by 1,192 hectares of reef. The closest accessible land point to the island is at Bundaberg is which is a four-hour drive or 45-minute flight north of Brisbane.

Need to know: This three-day experience is perfect for those who love to snorkel and kayak.

Queensland Aboriginal Tour

Mossman Gorge Dreamtime Walk. IMAGE Kerry Heaney

Mossman Gorge Dreamtime Walk

It begins with a smoking ceremony to scare away the evil spirits and continues with a walk through the deep forest surrounding Mossman Gorge in Tropical North Queensland. Just a short drive from Port Douglas, Mossman Gorge is a profoundly important place to the local Indigenous people, the Ngadiku (Nar-di-gul).  This was my first experience of a smoking ceremony on a Queensland Indigenous Tour, and it was a fantastic introduction to the region. The stories shared were full of traditional ways as our guide showed us how to make bush soap and paint with ochre. At the end, we relaxed with a cup of bush tea and damper. Find out more at the Mossman Gorge Centre.

Cost: From $86.50 for adults and $43.25 for children or $216.30 for a family.

Location: Mossman Gorge is 77 km, or one hour and 10 minutes driving time north of Cairns in North Queensland.

Need to know: Allow extra time for a swim i the waterhole at Mossman Gorge but, as this is an unpatrolled swimming location, be cautious and observe the conditions before entering.

mud crabbing walkabout, Cooyar Beach

Walking along Cooya Beach.  IMAGE Kerry Heaney

KukuYalanji Coastal Beach and Mangrove Walk

This coastal beach Indigenous tour will take you to explore the sandy tidal flats north and mangroves of Cooya Beach. You will be looking for mud crabs on a real muddy adventure, seeing the landscape through the eyes of a traditional Kuku Yalanji custodian.

I enjoyed this tour although I’m glad that I don’t have to hunt mud crabs with a spear for my dinner every day.  I would starve! Read my experience of this Queensland Indigenous Tour.

Cost: $90 Adult; $75 Child

Location: Cooya Beach is one hour and 30 minutes driving time north of Cairns.

Need to know: Wear insect repellant for this walk through the mangroves.

Queensland Aboriginal Experience Spirits of the Red Sand

Spirits of the Red Sands performance.  IMAGE Tourism and Events Queensland

Spirits of the Red Sands

Meaningful and mesmerising, Spirits of the Red Sand is an Aboriginal live ‘roving theatre’ and dinner experience at Beenleigh. It takes you beyond Dreamtime to 1800s Australia when the British and Aboriginal ways of life collide with a story told by a cast of 18 direct descendants of the original characters. This is an immersive and eye-opening evening. It starts with a live theatre experience and continues with indigenous song and dance, a three-course dinner and a final meet and greet of cast and crew. Sometimes the tale is confronting, sometimes distressing, but it is told with heart.

Using light and audio installations, dancing and destinations throughout Beenleigh Historical Village & Museum, the story shows how the two cultures come together and how that affected Aboriginal culture. This powerful but inspirational storyline is shared over a 2.5-hour show and dinner.

This is a moving experience that highlights important events from the past that should not be forgotten.   For more information on the show, visit Spirits of the Red Sands.

Cost: Spirits of the Red Sands cost $120 for adults, $65 for children aged 10 to 15 years and $25 for children 5 to 9 years.

Location: Beenleigh is halfway between Brisbane and Gold Coast.

Need to know: If it is a cold night, dress for warmth so you will be comfortable. The show moves between buildings in the historical village with much of the action in an open-air environment that can be very cold.

Spirits of the Red Sands dancers.  IMAGE Tourism and Events Queensland

Spirits of the Red Sand dancers Queensland Aboriginal Tour
Portland Road Whitsundays Queensland Indigenous Experience

Auntie Sue onboard sharing stories of her heritage. IMAGE: Kerry Heaney

Master Reef Guide and Ngaro Experience

In the beautiful blue waters of the Whitsundays, you can join a Portland Roads sailing adventure that takes you out to some incredible snorkelling locations and hikes on the islands.  What makes this trip different is that you are accompanied by a Master Reef Guide and Auntie Sue, a local Elder and a descendant of the local Gia, Juru and Ngaro peoples.   Aunty Sue starts the journey with a Welcome to Country. On the way out on the water, she digs deeply into her stories of heritage and displacement.  You’ll find more details on the tour at Portland Roads.

Cost:  This experience is booked out until 2023.  Contact Portland Roads for future booking opportunities.

Location: Whitsundays, Queensland

Need to know:  This is a six-day/six-night experience.  I was only able to enjoy a morning on the boat as a taste of their offering but I can confirm that it is every high-end and totally authentic.

Need to know: This is a boating adventure so make sure you have the sea legs for it.

Ready to depart for a Whitsundays Ngaro experience. IMAGE: Kerry Heaney

Portland Roads Whitsundays Ngaro Experience

These tours are still on my bucket list but each looks amazing.  They combine an incredible environment with an interpretive tour and that is my favourite way to experience a region.

Torres Strait Day Tour

A Strait Day gives visitors a rare opportunity to experience a place where ancient culture is still part of everyday life. The plane departs Cairns in the morning and hops between Waibene (Thursday Island) and Ngurapai (Horn Island), some 800 km away. On the way, you learn about culture, food, history, and tradition. Read more about this Queensland Indigenous Tour in a round-up of things to do in Cairns.

Cost: from $1,399

Location: Day flight departs from Cairns in North Queensland

Need to know:  This new tour gets you to places well off the beaten path and offers unique experiences.

Talaroo Hot Springs tours

Led by the Ewamian Traditional Owners, you’ll explore the breathtaking ancient hot springs at Talaroo. Read more about Talaroo and other Queensland hot springs.

Cost: $36 for adults and $20 for children.

Location: You don’t need a 4WD, but there is 10 km of dirt road on this 4.5-hour drive from Cairns along the Savannah Way to reach this Queensland Aboriginal tour.

Need to know: The one-and-a-half-hour tour includes a stop at the hot springs bathing pool where you can relax with a soak or just dip your feet in.

Green Island Wunyami Cultural Walking Tour

The Wunyami Cultural Walking Tour is a guided journey led by Indigenous guides around Wunyami, Green Island. The ancient coral cay has a fascinating cultural history with the island connected to a journey of two ancestorial story-time beings. Morning and afternoon tours are available. Find out more about this Queensland Indigenous Tour.

Price: Adults $29, Children $14.50

Location: Green Island is 30 km offshore of Cairns in North Queensland

Need to know: So close to Cairns, this is a great way to combine an island experience with an Indigenous experience in just a few hours.

Yesterday, Today, Tomorrow Tour

In Bundaberg, Taribelang Bunda Cultural Tours offers half-day tours that give guests a unique opportunity to engage in personal storytelling. There are native bush flavour tastings while you journey through the significant sights of the Taribelang people. You’ll learn the history of the area through storytelling passed down from the Elders and experience a genuine connection to the land.

This Queensland Aboriginal tour runs on Tuesdays and Saturdays each week.  Find out more about the Yesterday, Today, Tomorrow Tour.

Cost: from $69 and book at Bunda Cultural Tours.

Location: Bundaberg, Queensland

Need to know:  New to the region, this tour shares stories and locations with a true connection to the local Aboriginal people.

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