Central Australia has some of the top tourist attractions in the country, including Uluru (Ayers Rock) and Kata Tjuta. For many visitors, though, it can be easy to get carried away with the sights and forget about the significance of this area for the Aboriginal population of Australia. However, there are many things you can do to make your visit to the Australian outback an ethical and culturally sensitive one.
This guide created by cheapflights explains how you can see the Australian outback ethically, without breaking any rules or facing any problems during your trip.
Be guided by the experts
There are surprisingly few tour operators that focus on Aboriginal culture or work with Aboriginal communities. Despite this, choosing a tour that takes you around Aboriginal sites and is led by Aboriginal guides is undeniably the best way to experience Central Australia. This is from an ethical point of view and also offers the most fascinating and enriching way of discovering this part of the world.
There are several small companies in and around Alice Springs which are either Aboriginal-owned or that work with Aboriginal businesses, so try to choose these when deciding how to visit the Australian outback. Central Aboriginal Experiences brings these small, ethical set-ups together and offers advice on the best tours that cater for your interests. You can choose from one-day walks that focus on Aboriginal culture, bush foods or sacred sites, or more extensive tours that show you a wider variety of sights.
You could also opt for an intensive immersive experience such as Uluru Aboriginal Tours, which offers tours of Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park. Tours depart from Yulara, a tourist resort built in the 1970s to relieve the detrimental effects mass tourism was having on the local environment. Tours are led by local Anangu people. Nearby, there are also cultural trips to Cave Hill organised by SEIT Outback Australia.
Alice Springs Desert Park was based on the Arrente philosophy, which says that plants, animals, people and land are linked and should be united. Here you can discover native species in a re-creation of their natural habitat.
Buy genuine Aboriginal art
Aboriginal art is recognised worldwide and is a popular souvenir for tourists to take home with them. It is one of the main economic activities of the Aboriginal population and as a result, it is even more important to make informed, ethical decisions when buying it.
It is worth researching Desart, the Association of Central Australian Aboriginal Art and Craft Centres, before you travel to the Red Centre, as this organisation can recommend art centres owned by Aboriginal people. There are many art centres around the area and all of them are happy to accept visitors. However, it is best to call them in advance to warn them you are coming. You can also consult the Indigenous Art Code, a guide that aims to advise on and promote the ethical trade in Aboriginal art.
Rather than ticking of things on a to-do list, you can have a much more inspiring time visiting a place ethically and in more depth, even if you are short on time. The Australian outback is a magical place and you will not regret choosing the alternative route to experience it in the right way.
Image by babasteve