It’s borderline embarrassing to not be aware of the Gold Coast’s rich Indigenous history. Aboriginal tribes inhabited the local region for over 23,000 years before European settlers arrived, leaving behind numerous sacred sites just waiting to be discovered. Of course, It’s never too late to pay tribute to and educate yourself about the deep-seated Indigenous culture of the Gold Coast.
Here are five places to get you started.
Jellurgal Aboriginal Centre, Burleigh Heads National Park
The Jellurgal Aboriginal Centre is located at the bottom of Burleigh’s Headland (right next to the Tallebudgera Creek car park). Watch Aboriginal artists create traditional artwork, browse the paintings for sale and see Aboriginal artefacts such as dilly bags, shields and other tools and instruments that were part of everyday life. Burleigh Heads National Park is a very important and sacred Indigenous place that, to this day, offers an amazing insight into the world of the Kombumerri people including many dreamtime stories about how Burleigh Hill and Talle Creek came to be. Go on a guided tour to discover all that is hidden, choose between half or full day tours starting at $20.
Minjungbal Aboriginal Cultural Centre, Tweed Heads
For a unique insight into Aboriginal culture, the Minjungbal Aboriginal Cultural Centre is a great place to start. On offer are museum exhibits, informative videos, Aboriginal art and traditional dances are performed regularly in the outdoor performance area. Go on a tour and hear how Aboriginal life was when this area was an untouched paradise of natural forest and mangroves, before learning about the cultural significance of Bora Ring, which you can see on the Walk on Water walking track.
Bora Ring Site (Jebbribillum), Burleigh/ Miami
The Bora Memorial Rock can be found in the Jebbribillum Bora Park beside the Gold Coast Highway in Burleigh/Miami. Thousands of people pass it every day without realising its significance. The rock is dedicated to the Indigenous men and women of the Gold Coast region who served in Australian war conflicts from 1914 to 1991. It was once the site where young Australian Aboriginals were initiated into their tribe in special ceremonies.
The ancient world of our Australian ancestors is brought to life every day at Dreamworld. In celebration of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander heritage, culture, wildlife and stories, visitors learn the ancient crafts of fire making, face painting, weapon shaping, music and art. Dreamworld also offer a Cultural Weapons Presentation to introduce the tools that helped the Aboriginal Australian’s survive on our continent for over 50,000 years including boomerangs, shields and spears. In a modern twist on learning about our ancestors, you’re also able to immerse yourself in a world of Indigenous storytelling, song and dance in a virtual reality Corroboree experience that brings the world’s oldest culture to life right before your eyes.
Bond University is home to Australia’s largest private collection of Indigenous art on public display. Tracing the evolution of Indigenous art from the traditional Western Desert Movement to the colourful contemporary styles, the Corrigan Walk is now attracting international acclaim. The unique collection features the works of Australia’s most celebrated and admired Indigenous artists including Clifford Possum Tjapaltjarri, Sally Gabori, Tommy Watson and Gloria Petyarre. The Corrigan Walk Art Tour is a free tour once a semester providing insight into these works and highlighting the artists and dreamtime stories woven into each piece and the history of Indigenous art.
Words by Kirra Smith