Immerse yourself in Gumbaynggirr Culture on the Coffs Coast

With the next Giingan Gumbaynggirr Cultural Experience taking place on December 14, find out what this interactive and informative tour is all about.

This multi award-winning experience enables guests to immerse themselves in Gumbaynggirr culture though dance, stories, language and songs as well as enjoy beautiful views from a culturally significant site in the Orara East State Forest.

This article first appeared on coffscoast.com and has been republished with permission.

I recently visited the Orara East State Forest on a picture-perfect Saturday morning to attend the Giingan Gumbaynggirr Cultural Experience.

To begin the day, I headed north from Coffs Harbour before leaving the highway and following the Bruxner Park Road up the hill to the meeting point at the cultural site of Niigi Niigi (Sealy Lookout).

The first look at the land of the Gumbaynggirr people from the Forest Sky Pier was breathtaking with views stretching across the key features of Munim-Munim (Moonee Beach) in the north to Nunguu Miirlarl (Pickett Hill) in the south.

Immerse yourself in Gumbaynggirr Culture on the Coffs Coast
Forest Sky Pier offers amazing views of Gumbaynggirr country

Starting at Sealy Lookout as a group, we experienced cultural dance and a smoke ceremony. It’s clear that these passionate guides have a gift for teaching and education and have bestowed on themselves a responsibility to perpetuate Gumbaynggirr tradition for generations to come. They spoke about the importance of culture, the stories of the Gumbaynggirr people, their history and their language. Their culture is one of inclusiveness.

Soon, the smells of damper filled the air. The damper is made with flour from the seeds of basket grass and traditionally collected by the Gumbaynggirr women. We’d later learn that the ingredients for the flour could be found close to where we sat.

Immerse yourself in Gumbaynggirr Culture on the Coffs Coast
Traditonal damper making is one of the many interactive components of the tour

After the initial ceremony and traditional damper making, we set out on a short walk along the sloping Gumgali Track, stopping at points of interest where stories were told and to experience, hands-on, the local plants and their various uses.

We tasted native sarsaparilla which is high in Vitamin C. Helping people in need is law of the Gumbaynggirr people and the sarsaparilla plant was provided to early European settlers to remedy scurvy when they arrived in Australia. We also discovered the uses of other plants such as the stem of the bracken fern for ant bite, bark from eucalypts for canoes, sap from the bloodwoods of the area for antiseptic and how to find a suitable branch to make a boomerang.

Not surprisingly, this experience is popular with locals as well as interstate and overseas visitors and makes a great inclusion on any Coffs Coast holiday. Some groups have even been lucky enough to spot a koala or two.

Immerse yourself in Gumbaynggirr Culture on the Coffs Coast
The group walking along Gumgali Track

If you do visit Sealy Lookout and the surrounding area, I highly recommend joining the Giingan Gumbaynggirr Cultural Experience. Even having grown up in the area, I was amazed at how much I learned throughout the day. And, by taking part in this experience, you are making a direct contribution to the revitalisation of Gumbaynggirr language and culture.

The Giingan Gumbaynggirr Cultural Experience runs on a monthly basis (every second Saturday) throughout the year.

In exciting news, this experience, already a multiple award-winner, was recently awarded GOLD in the NSW Tourism Awards (the Qantas Award for Excellence in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Tourism) and as a result, BMNAC is off the National Tourism Awards in March 2020!

Click here to book or find out more.