Frog Dreaming Country, Indigenous Australia Community Tourism

Posted by Aboriginal Art Directory | 08.09.08

Ian Crawshaw posts an interesting read about Indigenous tourism:

Two hours south of Katherine, just off the 2,500km Central Arnhem Highway to Cairns, there is an unsealed, red sand road disappearing into the bush. This dusty track winds 35km through shady gum forests and lush savanna. Kangaroos stare, wild donkeys scatter, and your 4WD enters Country belonging to the Jawoyn, the people of the Frog Ancestors. “This is my mothers country” whispers our guide Long John, “I wasn’t born ‘ere, but this is where I learnt to ride.”

Many Australians spend their whole lives never having visited Aboriginal communities, mistakenly believing them ‘closed’ and completely inaccessible. For some places, nothing could be further from the truth. It can simply be a matter of applying for a permit (nowadays an easy process) or entering Aboriginal lands with a community-owned tour company.

Manyallaluk, for many years the Eva Valley Cattle Station, was handed back to traditional owners back in the ‘70s. Many older buildings, stables and bunkhouses of station workers and local miners fell into disrepair as the community built new homes and a school a couple of paddocks away. No longer a working cattle station, people needed a new source of employment, and a way of maintaining traditional skills and Jawoyn culture.

Manyallaluk opened its doors to the world in 1991, and their one-day trips, multi-day walkabouts, bush skills education and art centre and have since won a long list of awards. For Manyallaluk, tourism is now a primary source of employment.

“My daughter could swear in black fella before she could speak English,” says Helen Peut,” ‘course you’re not allowed to say things like that now” and all four women laugh. Helen is the widow of the last Station Manager, left here 35 years ago. She has returned with her daughter, visiting Barbara and other old Aboriginal friends and workers. Any past ownership issues are forgotten and forgiven, and today four women can reminisce happily about their lives together in Manyallaluk.


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