Cairns Indigenous expertise tour: A must-do in Australia's tropical playground


I’m simply as a lot a fan of “fly and flop” holidays as anybody, particularly this time of the 12 months, when the nice and cozy tropics beckon. Sometimes all I want is a bit of heat and some absorbing books to recharge (and I nonetheless desire paper ones).

It’s good to bliss-out for some time, however it may be a bit like quick meals – no actual nourishment. A lounge chair by a swimming pool in a beachside resort is not going to broaden my information of something, besides the variation in cocktails made with rum.

Which is why I at all times attempt to hook up with a spot by doing one thing native and, hopefully, memorable, one thing I can hold with me lengthy after the suntan fades.

Tropical North Queensland is one among Australia’s favorite locations to flop and Cairns is the foremost vacation spot within the area due to its airport. I used to be there not too long ago, and I did a little bit of flopping, however by far the most effective expertise I had was the brand new, half-day Hands on Country tour with Mandingalbay Ancient Indigenous Tours (, a 100 per cent Indigenous owned and operated firm.

Just throughout from the busy Cairns Marina is a quiet place which straddles the Great Barrier Reef and the Wet Tropics World Heritage websites. It’s nation for the Mandingalbay Yidinji individuals, who’ve lived within the rainforest and fished these waters for over 60,000 years. This magical place, which I may see from my resort balcony, is just a 15 minute boat journey throughout the port and into the mangrove-lined creek.

I meet Marcus Brady, Dale Mundraby and captain Liz Crough of the tour firm at Cairns Marlin Marina earlier than setting off on their shiny new coated river boat for the cruise up the tranquil creek. Dale explains a bit of about connection to nation via panorama and songlines, factors out landmarks, talks about wildlife and conservation and provides his friends background to historical past of his individuals, who have been fierce warriors that different tribes referred to as on each time there was bother.

There’s a brand new shelter within the form of a stingray on the pontoon the place we land. A boardwalk with three statement towers is within the strategy planning stage. Next, we’re taken on a brief bus journey to the ranger base. Dale explains there was an indigenous sea and land ranger program working for eleven years.

Uncle Maynard Bulmer welcomes us to nation with a smoking ceremony. Afterwards, we set off on a straightforward uphill hike via the rainforest with Laurissa Mundraby, direct descendent of the unique inhabitants, who has been a ranger for 10 years.

The path is a bit rocky, requiring stable boots. We cease continuously, as she factors out totally different crops and their makes use of, beginning with the pandanus leaves that her grandmother taught her to weave into baskets and the paperbark that is used as roofing for shelters as a result of it repels water.

I’m at all times amazed on the extraordinary abundance of our “bush tucker” and this rainforest appears extra plentiful than most, from native tamarind, ginger, olives, damson, and yam to the Badil nut, which is poisonous uncooked however as soon as it’s soaked in water for days could be floor to make damper. “Our food wasn’t bland,” Laurissa says.

She exhibits us a plant referred to as Supplejack which is used as a contraceptive and the Golden Bouquet Tree which has nectar candy sufficient to make cordial. At the tip of our stroll she picks some leaves off the “soap tree” and exhibits us how one can crush them in our palms and blend with water to make frothy cleaning soap.

Most affecting is when Laurissa talks about her religious connection to nation with tales that aren’t mine to inform right here. There’s nothing polished or touristy about her presentation, it is sincere and heartfelt and a real instance of how a lot we are able to be taught from our First Nations individuals. But do go and listen to for your self.

The tour ends with cake and tropical fruit and a soothing boat journey again via the mangroves. If you wish to attempt some refined bush tucker, I counsel you go to Ochre on Marlin Parade, the place government chef Craig Squire is a pioneer in using native elements and regional produce.

I had an exquisite lunch there, after which I went again to the pool to flop.

Lee Tulloch was a visitor of Tourism Tropical North Queensland.