5-day itinerary: Discover the Indigenous culture of Brisbane and the Gold Coast
If you’re up for an adventure, pack the car and get ready to learn the Indigenous history of South East Queensland. From North Stradbroke Island to the shimmery Gold Coast, you’ll immerse yourself in the storytelling and traditions of Queensland’s first nations people on this eye-opening five-day cultural tour.
Psst! If you want to learn more about Indigenous Queensland, check out our free ebook; Connect with Culture.
Day One: Get cultured in Brisbane
Take a short drive to Nudgee Waterholes (30-mins from Brisbane city), a place of spiritual significance to the local Jagera People. Listen to ancient stories as your Aboriginal guide from Nyanda Cultural Tours takes you on a journey through the wetlands.
You’ll taste local bush tucker and learn about the coming of age rituals for young Jagera men. Your journey ends at a sacred Bora Ring where you’ll hear the sound of a traditional bull-roarer.
All of that learning will work up an appetite, so you’ll be treated to a bush food-style morning tea: a hunk of wattle-seed damper baked over the campfire, served up with lashings of lilly pilly jam.
Head back to Brisbane to for a stroll around the riverside cultural precinct of South Bank. Lunching outdoors is standard in Brisbane thanks to its superb year-round climate, so make like a local and pick a cafe table overlooking the lawn on Little Stanley Street.
Next, it’s time to take on the twin galleries of QAGOMA (Queensland Art Gallery & Gallery of Modern Art). With a heavy focus on the contemporary art of Australia, Asia and the Pacific, QAGOMA is also home to the largest collection of contemporary Torres Strait Islander art in the world.
Psst! Still craving more culture? Get a crash course in Brisbane’s Aboriginal heritage and landmarks on an inner-city walking tour with BlackCard, then spend the evening exploring Brisbane’s laneways, where laidback eateries are nestled alongside quirky live music venues and cellar bars.
Day Two: Set your watch to island time
Hop on board the 45-minute vehicle ferry, or the speedier 15-minute passenger ferry (if you’re leaving your wheels behind) and head to North Stradbroke Island, known to the Traditional Owners, the Quandamooka people as Minjerribah.
Minjerribah is beloved for its lack of artifice and down-to-earth charm – but the fact that it’s jaw-droppingly beautiful and home to endless sandy beaches, glittering inland lakes and an abundance of native wildlife doesn’t hurt either.
When you arrive, take the coastal road to Point Lookout for a late breakfast at Fishes at the Point Cafe, then head for nearby Adder Rock Camping Ground to check-in to your very own luxury eco-tent. Chill out in the hammock on your private deck or explore the island’s Indigenous sites with Straddie Adventures.
Strap on your walking shoes because it’s time for a scenic hike along the craggy clifftops of North Gorge Walk – a significant place for the Quandamooka people who used it for hunting, gathering bush tucker and sacred rituals. Be sure to keep your eyes peeled for dolphins, turtles and if you’re there between June and September, humpback whales.
Dine on freshly-caught prawns and wash it down with ice-cold beers from the Point Lookout Prawn Shack as you watch the sunset over Moreton Bay and reflect on a day well-spent.
Day Three: Hit the beach highway
You can’t visit Straddie without testing out your beach driving skills. Main Beach, with its 32 km of uninterrupted golden sands, is the ultimate beach cruising experience. Pick a secluded spot to while away a few hours with only the pelicans for company or make like a local and dig for sand pipis at the water’s edge. Remember to pick up your beach driving permit on arrival from the Minjerribah Camping office in Dunwich and always keep an eye on conditions and tide times before hitting the beach highway.
Head to the sleepy fishing village of Amity Point and drop a line in off the jetty, then cook up your catch at a beachside barbecue picnic spot. (Local tip: keep an eye out for the friendly dolphins who appear around the jetty at twilight in hope of a free feed).
Day Four: Get a taste for bush tucker
Take the 4WD track to spectacular Brown Lake to swim in its balmy, tea-tree coloured waters. Known in the local lingo as Bummeira, Brown Lake is a sacred place where Quandamooka women and their children traditionally came to pray, play and connect to the land. Choose a spot by the water’s edge for a picnic lunch before heading back to Dunwich.
Wrap up your Minjerribah experience with a historical walk along the foreshore of Dunwich with a local Aboriginal guide. Learn about Aboriginal artefacts, traditional hunting methods, bush tucker and medicines on the fascinating one-hour Goompi Trail.
Once you’re back on the mainland, set your GPS to Burleigh Heads on the Southern Gold Coast. Check in to Bujerum Apartments, your new home for night, then kick back beachside with cocktails and Asian-inspired dining at wittily-named Burleigh eatery, Rick Shores.
Day Five: Learn the secrets of the Dreaming Mountain
Your first adventure on the Gold Coast is a cultural tour of stunning Burleigh Head National Park with Aboriginal-owned and operated tour company Jellurgal. Immerse yourself in the story and customs of the Yugambeh people with a traditional smoking ceremony and ochre anointment followed by a guided trek around the sacred Dreaming Mountain.
Feeling peckish? After all that walking, you should be! Check out the eclectic menu at The Collective in nearby Palm Beach – think Mexican share plates, plentiful pizza options and a casual, beachy vibe – or walk a little further up the beach to dude food specialists Lester & Earl, where you can eat your fill of smoked BBQ meats washed down with locally-brewed craft beer.
Work off lunch with an afternoon exploring the bohemian laneways and quirky boutiques of Burleigh, then round off your trip with an iconic Gold Coast experience: fish and chips on Burleigh Headland. Watch the sun set over the ocean as the cityscape of Surfers Paradise and Broadbeach glimmers to life in the distance.