For the People of the Eora Nation, their connection to this part of the land and sea runs deep – they have lived around the harbour for more than 60,000 years.
These five Aboriginal-led tours share different aspects of why the land is so significant to culture and how the People of the Eora Nation live in harmony with it.
The Rocks Dreaming Tour – Dreamtime Southern X
The Illi Langi Rocks Aboriginal Dreaming Tour enables guests to “see the unseen through the saltwater environment – there is so much unseen information to do with our natural world here,” says Margret Campbell, owner of tour company Dreamtime Southern X. On a guided walk around The Rocks, you’ll learn about the Aboriginal People’s saltwater heritage and learn how they used the land and water and their spiritual connection to the foreshores. “Ancestorial custodians have created our world, have given us life,” says Campbell.
The tour runs every day and is also available for private groups.
The Burrawa Climb – BridgeClimb
Whether you’ve climbed the Sydney Harbour Bridge or not, ascending the famous structure with an Aboriginal guide is a whole new experience with Burrawa. Look out across the harbour and over three hours, be immersed in the stories of the past and present – learn the origins of the place names, where contact between First Nations People and European settlers was made and understand why the land is so important. “Aboriginal culture is connected to the land that we stand on in Sydney,” says Matty Mills, an Aboriginal guide at BridgeClimb. “It’s really important for Aboriginal People to feel connected to the place they live, reside or travel to. It’s a part of who we are: we do not conquer the earth; we are part of the earth.”
The Burrawa Climb runs on the last Saturday of every month at 9:15am and 1:45pm.
Cultural Cruise – Tribal Warrior
Get closer to the living culture of the Gadigal, Guringai, Gammeraigal, Wangal, Cammeraygal and Wallumedegal People by getting on the water. On the Tribal Warrior Cultural Cruise, you’ll head out on Mari Nawi (big canoe) and learn about life pre-colonisation, including traditional fishing methods and food gathering techniques. You’ll alight on Be-lang-le-wool (Clark Island; Tribal Warrior is the only commercial tour operator allowed on the harbour islands) and the experience can include a smoking ceremony, dance performance, Welcome to Country and didgeridoo playing. “The smoking ceremony is to cleanse not only ourselves, but the island we are visiting – to let the ancestors know that we are coming on these ancient islands to learn about the oldest living continuous culture on modern earth,” says Les McLeod, a guide at Tribal Warrior.
Enquire to book a tour.
Aboriginal Harbour Heritage Tour – The Royal Botanic Garden Sydney
On the one-hour , you’ll join a First Nations guide on a walk around Sydney Harbour foreshore, hearing stories of the Gadigal lifestyle, traditions, and connection to Country and community. “In our Aboriginal culture, our energy is one with everything; every living being is a part of us and we are a part of it. When you look out onto the harbour, you can feel that Gadigal connection,” says Kalkani Choolburra, guide at Royal Botanic Gardens. There is also an Aboriginal Cultural tour and Aboriginal Bush Tucker tour available, in the latter, you’ll learn about how Indigenous bush foods were used traditionally and they have been adapted to the modern palate.
The Aboriginal Harbour Heritage Tour runs on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays. Bookings are required.
Aboriginal Cultural Tour – Barangaroo Reserve
Did you know the Barangaroo Reserve has 75,000 native Australian trees and shrubs, and was named after a Cammeraygal woman, a powerful leader of the Eora Nation at the time of European colonisation? Find out more about the flora of the reserve, as well as the significance of the land on an Aboriginal Cultural Tour. A team of Aboriginal educators will explain the importance of being able to connect to the land, even in an urban environment. “Aboriginal culture is not something you see in the museum, or you see in the past. It's all around us,” says Tim Gray, tour guide.
The tour runs from Monday – Saturday, at 10:30am and 12:30pm (on some days).