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Best Cultural Experiences

 

The Cultural Experiences category showcases the best experiences and attractions that put a focus on educating participants in some way, be it through a historic, cultural or otherwise informative lens. Cultural experiences can encompasses both the indigenous Australian and European-influenced cultures that have impacted Australia throughout its existence.

Those looking to be entertained while also learning some additional insight - whether through commentary and narration, or actual hands-on participation and experimentation - will come away with a more substantial knowledge of the associated aspect of Australian culture afterwards.

Award Winner Profiles

 

Meet the award-winning operators and their signature experiences in the Cultural Experiences category.

AAT Kings Arnhemland Experience - Darwin, NT

AAT Kings is one of the largest, longest-running, and most reputable coach tour companies in Australia. For over 100 years they've been sending millions of intrepid travellers on both long and short journeys to witness some of our country's signature highlights. Their Arnhemland Explorer experience sees participants accompanied by a traditional Aboriginal guide and exploring Arnhem Land and its array of incredible indigenous rock art while learning about traditional land ownership, finding and sampling bush tucker, and learning some practical bush skills that have remained practical for tens of thousands of years. This vast tract of nearly 100,000 sq km of land is one of Australia's last strongholds of traditional Aboriginal culture.

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Australian National Maritime Museum - Sydney, NSW

One of Australia's premier museums, Sydney's Australian National Maritime Museum is a comprehensive encapsulation of Australia's seafaring past, from the days of early colonisation through to modern military and other aquatic transportation and artefacts. The museum is home to over 140,000 fascinating objects of all sizes, encompassing various maritime collections, exhibitions, research and archaeology. It plays host to both an array of permanent galleries and excellent temporary exhibitions, while its replica of the HMB Endeavour vessel provides a real-life example of history in action - and can commonly be seen moored alongside the museum on the waters of Sydney Harbour.

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Flames of the Forest Indigenous Experience - Port Douglas, QLD

Blending together a unique mixture of Aboriginal culture, outdoor dining and magical rainforest scenery, Flames of the Forest offers guests a special night of indigenous culture under the canopy of the world's most ancient rainforest. Visitors can learn about one of the world's oldest living peoples as told via the storytelling abilities of two local indigenous Australian brothers. The experience is set in the traditional grounds of the Kuku Yalanji people, and features folklore, didgeridoo performance and traditional song combined with a locally-sourced seven dish banquet to enjoy alongside the proceedings. It's a truly "Australian" cultural experience in every sense of the word.

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The Quarantine Station (Q Station) - Sydney, NSW

Immigrants seeking haven in Australia hundreds of years ago often found this scenic slice of the region as their first port of call, where an often harsh welcome awaited. Today, Sydney's Quarantine Station's lovely outlook belies the trials and tribulations that foreign travellers encountered when admitted to the Quarantine Station, and visitors can learn about the history and operations of the station via historic tours that provide detailed insight. The station served as a processing and containment point for over 150 years, and visitors can take part in guided tours that detail this often-tumultuous history and find out exactly how it felt to be "quarantined". For those with an interest in the paranormal, the Q-Station also offers guided ghost tours which explore some of the unexplained phenomena and more gruesome details that dot the station's past.

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Sovereign Hill Open-Air Museum - Ballarat, VIC

One of regional Victoria's signature attractions, Sovereign Hill has been running since 1970 in its capacity as a fabulous "living museum" that depicts all the essential aspects of Gold Rush-era Victoria. Located in Ballarat, the award-winning attraction sees over 500,000 visitors coming to relive these wild days of the past on its 25-hectare land space that features a total re-creation of Ballarat during its formative years. Authentic era-specific buildings such as hotels, blacksmiths, wheelwrights and more line the streets, while costumed characters help bring the period to life. Visitors can try their hand at panning for gold, ride a horse-drawn carriage through the town, explore a gold mine on a guided tour, and much more. During the evenings, guests can witness a wondrous sound and light show that details the dramatic Eureka Uprising of the 1850's.

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The Workshops Rail Museum - Ipswich, QLD

A thorough documentation of Australia's rail heritage, Ipswich's Workshops Rail Museum is one of the rare attractions that truly "makes learning fun", being a favoured spot for families with kids and going out of its way to be child-friendly. Opened in 2002, this is a truly world-class rail museum that features over 15 larger-than-life exhibits that showcase the huge impact that rail has had on Australian history. Part of the Queensland Museum, a visit here allows travellers to meet some true Aussie characters by stepping into a real heritage railway workshop to see it in operation, and see the genuine restoration of a heritage steam train fleet up close by real railway workers. Their annual "Day Out with Thomas" event is especially popular with children.

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Tiwi Islands Cultural Day Tour (AAT Kings) - Darwin, NT

AAT Kings is one of the largest, longest-running, and most reputable coach tour companies in Australia. For over 100 years they've been sending millions of intrepid travellers on both long and short journeys to witness some of our country's signature highlights. Their Tiwi Islands experience provides a day of exploration of the Tiwi Islands which reside around 80km off the coast of Darwin, and offer the chance at witnessing life in a modern day Aboriginal community. Featuring a journey dotted with a mixture of rich history, traditional bush tucker and medicine, indigenous art and more, it's a comprehensive cross-section of the Aboriginal culture all in a scenic location with a population of just 3,000 people.

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Tjapukai Aboriginal Cultural Park - Cairns, QLD

Tjapukai is an Indigenous cultural experience in Cairns, Tropical North Queensland, which has been sharing the authentic culture, history and traditions of the Djabugay people for the past 30 years. Tjapukai is about giving Australians and international visitors the opportunity to experience authentic Aboriginal culture and interact with Traditional Owners. Tjapukai’s cultural products, services and experiences have been developed through the initiatives of it's Indigenous employees, and in collaboration with the Traditional Owners. The enthusiasm of the staff has generated many great ideas which have been translated into unforgettable hands-on experiences for visitors, who can visit for both day and night time experiences which are a Cairns region must-do.

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Value (Down Under) Daintree Tour - Cairns, QLD

A subsidiary of Down Under Day Tours, Value DownUnder offer a range of itineraries in Tropical North Queensland that showcase the best of the Daintree Rainforest from a variety of different angles. Their Daintree & Kuranda experience mixes together the natural wonders of the rainforest with unique indigenous culture. Accompanied by an indigenous guide, guests will be shown key aspects of Aboriginal culture including bush food demonstrations, didgeridoo playing, native dance boomerang and spear throwing, fire making demonstrations, and a host of other skills that have been in use for tens of thousands of years. It also includes time to explore Kuranda - the "Village in the Rainforest".

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Sydney OutBack - Sydney, NSW

Allowing participants to get outside the bustle of Sydney and encounter some truly off-the-beaten-path hidden gems, Sydney OutBack offer tours which explore some of the best of Ku-Ring-Gai-Chase National Park - which ranks as the second-oldest of its kind in all of Australia. The company offers insightful commentary, picturesque photo opportunities, and insight into Australia's culture, both European and Indigenous while guests are entertained with a dose of raw Aussie humour throughout. They are a wholly Australian owned and operated family company with deep connections to the region, and history dating back to the First Fleet. Their tours journey via a mix of a 23-seat tour bus on land, and a 50-foot power catamaran licensed for up to 64 passengers on water. Their excellent Aboriginal Explorer Tour offers guests the opportunity to appreciate Aboriginal heritage and understand the true story of Colonial Australia's first 50 years.

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