Indigenous tourism puts history at our fingertips
Pizzas made of native leaves, walks alongside ancient rock carvings and a couple of exotic animals for company - all right here in Sydney's backyard.
Indigenous tourism operators are calling on travel-deprived Aussies to explore their city's traditional heritage in lieu of overseas holidays.
Aboriginal travel experiences have seen a surge in popularity since NAIDOC Week, but operators say locals should be exploring Indigenous culture every week of the year.
Royal Botanic Gardens First Nations education and engagement manager Renee Cawthorn said she hoped Indigenous experiences would continue to rise in popularity.
"We live in an Aboriginal country but many people think you have to go out to the desert in Central Australia to get that experience but you can have it right here," she said.
"We have missed out on a lot of the international tourist interest this year but locally, since Naidoc Week we have seen an increase in interest."
The Royal Botanic Gardens are launching an Aboriginal Cultural Sunset Tour from January 15 to capitalise on Sydneysiders who are looking closer to home for new experiences.
"You walk through the Cadi Jam Ora Garden and that's where you learn about the traditional and contemporary uses of our native plans for nutritional and medicinal purposes," she said.
"NAIDOC Week is not the only time to acknowledge and celebrate first nation people's culture. Over summer we are having kids programs like storytelling and bush tucker pizza making where you make pesto from local native plants."
Sydney Nolan, 10, and brother Terrence, 7, were among the latest group of explorers to go on the RBG's Aboriginal cultural tour.
"We saw lots of native plants and we saw possums. We learnt about the native plants like Myrtle and the different berries and foods in the bush," Sydney said.
Tourism Minister Stuart Ayres said the pandemic had presented a silver lining for locals who were eager to learn about the city's 80-plus tribal groups.
"NSW is home to Australia's largest Aboriginal population represented by more than 80 Tribal Groups each with a unique story to tell. With cultural diversity on offer right here in the city, Sydney can offer visitors some of the most accessible and authentic experiences in the nation," he said.
"Our Aboriginal tourism operators offer a unique perspective on the land, the history and the culture of our region.
"I encourage Sydneysiders to embrace this different way to explore experience and find out more about the Harbour City we all love."
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Originally published as Indigenous tourism puts history at our fingertips