Culture 40,000 years in the making

Cairns Beauty

Australia's Aboriginal and Islander cultures are considered to be among the oldest and most diverse surviving indigenous cultures dating back more than 40,000 years.

Australia's Aborigines lived as one with nature, understanding its forces and its bounty. Aboriginal people once hunted and gathered foods from the region as they continued a nomadic and peaceful life.

Their culture is retained through song and dance, which has been passed down through generations by elders with their skills, laws, songs and tradition.

Tropical North Queensland was once home to many tribal groups; today only three distinctive peoples can be identified according to their habits.

There were the people of the rainforest, the people of the coast and the people who lived in the lowlands.

All aboriginal tribes are united by the Dreamtime legends, which talk of the time when spiritual beings gave life and shape to the landscape. The stories of the Dreamtime illustrate the aboriginal respect and connection to the land. Their art and body paintings are a reflection of the earth, the animals and plants, which surround them.

Tropical North Queensland's environment provided the aboriginals with rich resources of food and shelter. As a nomadic people they had no need to grow crops or farm they only took from the land what they needed.

Several well-known Aboriginal cultural experiences can be enjoyed in the region where you can appreciate the richness of Aboriginal and Islander history and living culture.

The Quinkin Aboriginal rock art paintings are some of the oldest and best-preserved art forms of their kind in the world and have been added to the World Heritage List.

At Laura, near Cooktown, on Cape York, the Laura Aboriginal and Islander Dance Festival is held every two years with several days of dance and culture displayed in friendly competition.