|Laura Aboriginal Rock Art|
Fortunately, there are plenty of opportunities to immerse yourself in the state’s Indigenous art scene.
And, if you’re looking for more Indigenous experiences in Queensland, check out this eBook: Connect with Culture.
1. DISCOVER THE ORIGINAL ROCK STARS
Quinkan Country, about 200km north west of Cairns, is home to some of the oldest artwork on the planet. It’s a pretty awe-inspiring experience to stand in front of something made by another human that’s over 15,000 years old, so prepare for your mind to be officially blown.
We recommend basing yourself in the nearby town of Laura, but to get out to the sites you’ll need to sign up for a tour. Jarramali Rock Art 4WD Tours offer regular day trips out to explore the sandstone escarpments and ancient sites with a local Kuku Yulanji guide.
Further south, there are more ancient artworks to be found west of Gladstone in the spectacular Carnarvon Gorge. Art Gallery and Cathedral Cave are two of the most famous sites, where the sandstone walls are adorned with thousands of fragile ochre stencils, thought to be over 3650 years old. Each is a 4-6 hour round trip over occasionally challenging terrain, so you’ll need to have moderate fitness levels to take on this challenge.
|QAGOMA’s Indigenous Australian Collection|
If you’re an Albert Namatjira fan, don’t miss the Namatjira Story exhibition, a showcase of the celebrated Aboriginal artist’s early landscapes. You can also view works by the countless artists he influenced, including artists from the Arrernte landscape painting tradition, the Hermannsburg Potters and his great-grandson, Vincent Namatjira.
Nestled away on Ernest Street, just a few minutes’ walk from South Bank’s main drag, Henderson Gallery is the brainchild of First Nations artist and curator Rob Henderson, a Wiradjuri man. Rob describes his beautiful, often haunting works as narratives which tell difficult stories and explore First Nations’ contemporary and historic presence. It’s a potent mix.
While the focus is on providing a platform for First Nations and emerging artists, this hip art space also offers weekend social art classes with Rob and fellow Aboriginal artist Wayne Weaver. If you fancy yourself as a budding artist, BYO wine and get schooled under the tutelage of some of Brisbane’s most talented Indigenous artists.
Tip: Get there in time for brekkie and treat yourself to a Birrang Big Breakfast – the thick cut hickory bacon is a house special.
|Cairns Indigenous Art Fair|
Thrumming with Indigenous artists, dancers, and performers, this is the quintessential celebration of the visual and performing art of Queensland’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and one of the hottest tickets on the Aussie art calendar.
While in town, make your next stop the outskirts of the CBD, where inside a traditional Queenslander on Sheridan Street is UMI Arts. This lively arts hub features three galleries and a retail shop selling authentic, locally-sourced arts and crafts.
Make the Cairns Regional Gallery in the heart of the city your final stop. The spectacular heritage-listed building is an homage to Australia’s Indigenous art, craft and design and features a mix of contemporary and ancient pieces with a distinct Pacific Rim influence.
A Kuku Yalanji man from the east rainforest and coastline, Binna takes his inspiration from the natural world – you’ll often see motifs from nature in his pieces, from seeds and shells through to the kurranji (cassowary) – a famously elusive rainforest bird native to Tropical North Queensland.
For those who prefer a more hands-on approach to art appreciation, Binna also runs intimate art classes where visitors can learn traditional Aboriginal painting techniques and take home a self-painted match box bean souvenir.
|Gab Titui Cultural Centre|
Psst! Here are 7 bucket-list-worthy things to add to your Torres Strait itinerary.
|Sand, Dust and Gibbers Project. Photo via Facebook|
Gibbers can be found at Deon’s Lookout, Birdsville, and depicts the Dreamtime Serpent travelling on Mithika Country and making pathways connecting the river systems. The Dust sculpture in Bedourie represents the dust storm and whirly winds (a way that the spirits travelled), while Sandhills in Birdsville reimagines the serpent as the Diamantina and Georgina Rivers with the sandhills in between.