Walking with Spirits
Australia’s indigenous people are increasingly offering opportunities for tourists and travellers to experience their unique culture through Aboriginal art, dance festivals, storytelling, and music. The respected and multi-talented Bangarra Dance Theatre is particularly well known as it travels the continent promoting Aboriginal culture through dance, music, and inspirational theatrical performances.
However, one of the most innovative and unusual events on the indigenous calendar is the Walking With Spirits corroborree, held each July in Beswick, a wilderness location in the Northern Territory which most of the time is off limits to tourists and outsiders. This remote rural outpost is accessible to the public only once each year when the Wugularr Community, young and old, invite visitors to gain an insight into their culture and spirituality by joining them on a journey into Aboriginal Dreamtime. The journey is experienced through a colourful ceremonial corroborree which includes theatrical performances and stirring renditions of dance and music. The Wugularr Community live on Aboriginal owned land near Beswick Falls (beware the freshwater crocs), on the Waterhouse river in a scenic area profuse with wildlife, native trees, water, and swimming holes.
The location is a remote and stunningly beautiful lakeside site at Malkgulumbultu, 100 kilometres south-east of Katherine, south of Darwin. Accommodation is in tents spread out amongst camp fires and paperbark trees and where facilities include bush toilets and a bar-b-que area. Food is BYO. More creature comforts can be found at the Djakanimba Pavilions - a large, brand new guesthouse owned by Djilpin Arts Aboriginal Corporation and located in Beswick. Hotels and motels are approximately 50 kilometres away.
Djakanimba Pavilions, Djilpinarts.org
Outback camp near Katherine Gorge
A 4WD vehicle is needed to access the site and these can be hired in Darwin. Walking/hiking through the bush is involved in reaching Malkgulumbultu.
Full price $145
Children $60 (5-15 years, under 5s free)
See photos of the corroboree here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/djilpinarts/sets/72157626940828373/
Trish Clark is the author of the Good Night and God Bless series of guidebooks to convent and monastery accommodation in Europe. Her latest book, Guide to the Camino, St Jean to Santiago de Compostela is out now. She is the Travel with a Spiritual Twist Editor for Wandering Educators. You can find her at www.goodnightandgodbless.com and at http://guidetothecamino.com/