Insight Australia



Finding Australia’s ancient Aboriginal art


Culture in the city: Finding the ancient among Australia’s modern hub.

In certain foodie circles, foraging – the art of finding and harvesting wild foods – is a hot trend, but for the Gadigal people of Sydney, it’s always been a way of life. Take a walk through the Royal Botanic Garden behind the Sydney Opera House with an Aboriginal guide and you’ll never go hungry again.

The Aboriginal Heritage Tour explores the garden’s rich Aboriginal heritage through the many uses of the plants that grow there. You’ll forage and taste Australian bush foods as you walk and talk, also identifying plants used for medicines and shelter. Collect seasonal fruits, berries and seeds in a traditional coolamon (a shallow dish made of bark), learn traditional methods of cooking and how to incorporate the bush foods into your own meals at home, as well as tasting some recipes inspired by bush foods.

The Royal Botanic Garden also holds Aboriginal art classes where you can discover how to use the plants and other elements of the garden – sticks, ochre, grasses and bark as well as paints and natural brushes – to create the ultimate souvenir, a unique piece of art to take home with you.


The Rocks Aboriginal Dreaming Tour.

Modern-day Sydney would be unrecognisable to the early European settlers who set up camp on the shores of Sydney Cove in 1788, but join a walking tour with Dreamtime Southern X and you’ll discover that for the traditional owners of the place they call Wocconmagulli, many things remain as they always were.

The Rocks Aboriginal Dreaming Tour showcases Sydney’s Dreamtime heritage and you’ll see how the landscape around the harbour reverberates with spiritual significance and continues to influence modern Aboriginal culture. Guides share stories that will help you see beyond the concrete roads, iron bridges and glass towers to glimpse what the country was like before colonisation. Listen to the creation stories that shaped Sydney, learn how the Eora people reacted to the coming of the Europeans and how the saltwater people practised seasonal food sustainability. Discover the ongoing connection to country and the true meaning behind the colours of the Aboriginal flag, taste bush tucker plucked from trees growing on city streets, and visit sacred Aboriginal sites hidden in the heart of the city’s most popular tourist precinct. It will give you a new perspective on the harbour city.

Dreamtime Southern X is owned by Margret Campbell and her family who are coastal water people of the Dunghutti and Jerrinjah nations, and tours are led by guides trained in their traditional cultural knowledge. The leisurely 90-minute walking tour departs from Cadman’s Cottage – one of the city’s oldest buildings – at Circular Quay and explores the historic area known as The Rocks. You’ll be walking modern streets, but the stories you hear are a millennium old, and you’ll be surprised at how much of the ancient world still exists once you know how to look for it. Tours depart daily at 10:30am. There is also a half-day coach tour around Sydney, which includes a Welcome to Country ceremony and light refreshments.