Australia’s beautiful natural landmarks, like Uluru, Kata Tjuta National Park, Kakadu, the Bungle Bungles and Cape Yorke attract thousands of tourists each year.
They also happen to be places of great cultural significance to Aboriginal people, a fact that is perhaps lost on many travellers who may not know that these sites belong to traditional owners, each holding their own histories and cultural protocols.
The ABC reports that a new book, titled Welcome to Country, by Marcia Langton will be the first travel guide to Indigenous Australia, providing tourists with a reference guide to travelling through Australia with respect to culture and sacred lands.
“Whether you’re Australian or whether you’re from another country, if you turn up in an Aboriginal area and start asking questions without an understanding of the history that’s gone before it, it could be very embarrassing not just for the visitor, but for the traditional owners,” Professor Langton told the ABC.
“It causes great pain to people to have to answer questions from people who have no understanding of that history.”
“That’s why I felt it was essential to explain some of that history — so that people can have a regard for the feelings of their hosts.”
Langton, who is a descendant of the fighting Yiman of Queensland, describes in detail the after effects of European arrival on Aboriginal people.
“I don’t think that many Australians are aware of that part of our history, and that’s very unfortunate,” she told the ABC.
The book also focuses on encourages travellers to pay attention to and book through Aboriginal businesses and enterprises.
“There are wonderful Indigenous-owned businesses all over the country where people can have a firsthand encounter with Aboriginal culture or food or environmental management,” she said.
“One of the great advantages for viable tourism businesses for Aboriginal landowners is they get to stay on their own country and get to raise their families on their own country and teach their children about their culture in-situ.”