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Aboriginal art in Sydney

  • Tribal Warrior Sydney Harbour Cruise
  • West Head, Ku-Ring-Gai Chase National Park

Highlights

At Penrith's Muru Mittigar Aboriginal Cultural Centre, you'll have the rare opportunity to learn the art of boomerang throwing in a bush setting while discovering the difference between hunting, returning and fighting boomerangs. You'll also hear the didgeridoo or yidaki being played with sounds that are thousands of years old. 

Must Do

Aboriginal art in Sydney

Australian Aboriginal Art has been described as the most exciting contemporary art form of the 20th century, collected around the world by art galleries, museums and art lovers. While painting on bark is the oldest form of Aboriginal art, today styles range from contemporary paintings to sculptures made from desert grasses, wool and string, fine art prints, glass ware, hand-printed fabrics and jewellery.

One of the oldest forms of Indigenous art is engravings and paintings in rock shelters and in caves. Rock paintings from the Kimberley’s Carpenter Gap in Western Australia have been dated back 40,000 years. Bark paintings are another early art form.

In the 1970s, Indigenous artists began to get international recognition. One for the first groups of Indigenous painters to become famous was the Australian Western Desert artists of Papunya Tula. They were given acrylic paints and canvas in 1971.  

There are plenty of opportunities to see Aboriginal art in all its forms in Sydney galleries and museums. At the Art Gallery of New South Wales' Yiribana Gallery, a compelling collection includes traditional bark paintings, contemporary art and photography. On the way in to the Museum of Sydney, pass through the Edge of the Trees sculpture, hear Aboriginal voices call out their clan and place names, and discover embedded shells, fish bones, and ochre. Inside, artefacts, paintings, film and soundscapes evoke contemporary Aboriginal perspectives on Sydney's past. The Macleay Museum has exhibits of cultural and scientific history dating from the 1750s.

If you're keen to buy authentic Aboriginal art or souvenirs while in Sydney, you'll find art galleries located in and around the city centre. In The Rocks, Argyle Gallery and Gannon House Gallery both sell a wide a range of styles from contemporary Aboriginal paintings to traditional bark paintings from regions as diverse as Arnhem Land and Utopia to the Western Desert. Coo-ee Aboriginal Art Gallery is located at Bondi Beach while The Artery Aboriginal Art and The Australian Art Print Network are in Darlinghurst. Coo-ee specialises in bark paintings, artefacts, and early desert boards as well as high quality contemporary Aboriginal paintings, sculpture and limited edition fine art prints. The Artery specialises in affordable Aboriginal art while The Australian Art Print Network has high quality contemporary art prints and sculptures.

Rozelle's Kate Owen Gallery has a sublime collection of top quality, contemporary Australian Aboriginal art, with a guarantee to add that 'wow factor' to modern interiors. Tali Gallery, also in Rozelle, has an amazing collection of beautiful paintings, prints, sculptures and glass.

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'Tribal Warrior' experience on Clark Island
Catch n Cook Aboriginal Fishing Experience, La Perouse
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