The Gumbaynggirr are the Traditional Custodians of the Mid North Coast area of NSW, Australia that spans the land between Yamba in the north, Macksville in the south, and west to Glen Innes.
Aboriginal history and culture has been passed down from the Elders through the generations for tens of thousands of years through language and storytelling. However, the majority of Aboriginal languages, an essential element of each Nation's identity, were until recently near extinction following British occupation. Gumbaynggirr language is currently one of the top 10 from around the country currently experiencing a revival, which will be assisted immensely by Coffs Harbour's new bilingual Gumbaynggirr Giingana Freedom School that opened its doors in 2022, empowering the younger generations.
Cultural experiences have now become a driving motivation for travellers, who when visiting new destinations, want to immerse themselves in the local culture, respect the country they walk on, and learn the history of the destinations they visit.
The cultural experiences that visitors can enjoy while staying in the Bellingen Shire and the Coffs Coast region, all offer something to engage all types of travellers, from storytelling performances, standup paddleboarding, bushtucker tours along the coast or through the lush rainforests.
If you find yourself visiting the picturesque lands of the Gumbaynggirr people on the Coffs Coast and would like to immerse yourself in their culture to gain a better understanding of the history, language, and land, then there are some fantastic cultural experiences that you will not want to miss:
The 100% Gumbaynggirr owned and run Award-Winning Giingan Gumbaynggirr Cultural Experience is one that you will not want to miss, and is suitable for everyone, no matter your ability or age.
Taking place at Coffs Harbour's Niigi Niigi (Sealy Lookout) within the Orara State Forest with its incredible sweeping 360-degree views of the Coffs Coast, the Gumbaynngirr Cultural Experiences offers an array of enlightening activities that grant visitors a unique opportunity to connect with the local Gumbaynggirr traditions and gain an appreciation for Aboriginal culture.
This informative experience occurs every second Saturday of the month between 2:00-4:00pm, and will take participants on a journey of storytelling, song, dance, language, and the use of native plants, all to the mesmerising backdrop of the Coffs Harbour coastline.
Image from Giingan Gumbaynggirr Cultural Experience
For the more adventurous spirits, a guided tour on a standup paddleboard on the pristine waters of Coffs Harbour's Solitary Marine Park may be the perfect cultural experience for you. These tours go for 2.5 hours for anywhere between 4 and 15 people, and the best things is that no experience is required as they provide a lesson at the beginning of each tour to have even the most uncoordinated among us traversing the waters confidently.
Don't let the physical element fool you though, this is certainly an immersive experience where you will learn about local Gumbaynggirr culture, hear their stories, and learn about the local plants and wildlife that sustained the Gumbaynggirr people of the region as well as touch and taste some of the bush tucker for yourself.
This experience is also a great way to give back as a percentage of your ticket price goes back into funding programs of the incredible Bularri Muurlay Nyanggan Aboriginal Corporation who run the Gumbaynggirr Giingana Freedom School.
Please note that this incredible experience is dependent on the tides and conditions of the local waterways so there may be last minute changes to your tour.
Image from Wajaana Yaam Gumbaynggirr Adventure Tours
If you are looking for a cultural tour in one of the most visually spectacular locations we know, then this Dorrigo National Park experience is one not to be missed!
Held during the school holidays, this two-hour tour begins at the Rainforest Centre, where the Gumbaynggirr ranger will take you to explore the rainforest from a totally new and awe-inspiring perspective as you learn about the local culture and language, and touch and taste the native plant species along your way.
Whilst there, this provides the ideal starting point for a leisurely bush walk and picnic as you visit the Crystal Showers Falls, or take the Walk with the Birds boardwalk through the treetops.
Those looking for authentic travelling experiences that enrich the soul will find what they seek by learning about the oldest recorded culture here in Australia.