Spend an evening under the incredibly bright stars of Outback NSW in Mungo National Park, located within the Willandra Lakes World Heritage Area. Here, a continuous record of human occupation stretches back over 40,000 years at least and the best way to uncover this remarkable environment is by touring with Aboriginal Discovery rangers.
Cultural and spiritual connections to land
Cultural and spiritual connections to land remain as strong for today's Aboriginal people as they were for their ancestors and, in many of the national parks and reserves around NSW, you can learn about these ties through walks, talks and tours.
On the Coffs Coast, the culture of the Gumbaynggirr people is interpreted by Aboriginal Discovery rangers through canoe tours, 4WD tag-along tours, bush tucker tours, whale watching and night bird watching in eight regional national parks. At Muttonbird Island Nature Reserve, rangers conduct tours of the island where the Gumbaynggirr people collected mutton birds for food thousands of years ago. Aboriginal Discovery Rangers conduct tours of the island, explaining its flora and fauna and narrating their Dreaming stories. North of Coffs Harbour, you can explore the longest stretch of protected coastline in NSW on the Yuraygir Coastal Walk on a four-day hike which also takes in important Aboriginal cultural sites. Yuraygir National Park is the country of various Aboriginal groups who have camped, fished and held ceremonies here for thousands of years.
Closer to Sydney, the Blue Mountains National Park is one of the most well-known parks in Australia; it's also part of the Greater Blue Mountains World Heritage Area which is listed for its remarkable geographic, botanic and cultural values, including protecting sites of Aboriginal cultural significance. This huge park has more than 140km of trails and walking tracks - the best place to find out about Aboriginal heritage within the park is by visiting the Blue Mountains Heritage Centre near Blackheath.
Sandstone Caves in the Pilliga Nature Reserve in Central NSW is a special place for the Gamilaraay people and a good location to experience their culture on an Aboriginal Discovery tour. Mount Yarrowyck Nature Reserve near Armidale protects an Aboriginal cave painting site; a 3km-return trail is an Aboriginal cultural walk that takes you along the granite slopes of the mountain to the cave painting site. At The Junction Island Nature Reserve and Walking Track, you can stand on a shoal of land where the Darling and Murray rivers meet. This marks the spot where a large number of Aborigines, armed with spears and weapons, threatened Captain Sturt as he sailed down the Murray on his expedition to find the inland sea.
On the South Coast, the Coomee Nulunga Cultural Trail travels through low windswept heath, past a sculpture of Corroboree Man, Bulan Yuin, who welcomes walkers to the trail. You'll see Garawanda Daran or Dreaming Poles that depict the many species of flora and fauna found in this area. Also on the South Coast near Tilba Tilba, the Mount Gulaga Walk is a steep track leading up this extinct volcano that has a special significance to the Yuin women of the region as well as panoramic views