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Journey to Olkola Country

Walk the land with us – the Olkola People.

Share a yarn over tea and damper by the campfire, and sleep under a billion stars

Journey

Welcome to Olkola country

This is a wonderful story of a land returned to its people. Now, we want to share this land with you.

Come walk with us on a unique 6-day tour in Olkola country in northern Queensland. Experience the land with our Traditional Owners. Search for the endangered Alwal (golden-shouldered parrot). Learn how we’re managing our country and how this fits into the bigger picture of conservation on Cape York. Spend time in this remarkable landscape, hear our stories around the campfire, and sleep under the stars.

Your trip to Olkola country is not just a holiday.

It's an experience of a living country and culture, and of an ancient, beautiful home. Joining our tour is also an opportunity for you to help the Olkola shape a future for Cape York that respects the traditions of our ancestors and supports generations to come.

 
Highlights
  • Be welcomed to Olkola country by our Traditional Owners

  • Learn about Olkola efforts to preserve our land and culture

  • Search for the endangered Alwal (golden-shouldered parrot) near their termite-mound homes

  • Go on guided walks with your Olkola hosts to learn about the area’s history and landscape

  • Swim in the cool waters of Jungle Creek

  • Experience our new Nukukura track – a traditional story place for the Kurrumbila (giant grasshopper), freshwater crocodile and blue tongue lizard.

  • Experience our rich culture, visit our cultural sites and learn about our totems.

  • Visit Aboriginal rock art

  • Sit by the fire for yarns under a thousand stars

“The group leaders were exceptional. They were knowledgeable, very open, happy to share their experiences and what they knew [as Elders] and from Elders about living on their land.” – Sue Richardson

Camp in spacious tents at historic Killarny Station, your base for this trip. Depart the camp daily to visit different locations on Olkola Country. Return each evening for dinner by the fire.

Includes: Transport from Cairns to Olkola country and return, camping and all meals on Olkola country, guesthouse in Cooktown.

Not included: Accommodation in Cairns not included, dinner in Cooktown, sleeping bag while camping.

*As we depart Cairns early on the first day of the trip and arrive back in Cairns late on the last day, we recommend booking pre and post accommodation in Cairns and suggest the Acacia Court Hotel, or Holiday Inn or Cairns Queenslander on Lake Street Cairns – allowing for a walk along the Cairns Esplanade and easy pick up and drop for the tour.

“I found the experience fascinating and very positive. The management group seem very capable and good at making connections, and the Olkola have a bunch of young people coming on too, all developing further skills. It was easy to talk with them and I loved the soft-spoken confidence and enthusiasm of all. I’m particularly impressed by how they are integrating their past and the present.” – Gaille Abud

Why we do this

The Olkola Aboriginal Corporation uses tourism as a sustainable way to provide employment and to reinvest in the organisation and our land. Anything done on the country, including tours, follows our healthy country plan, which is improving, protecting, restoring and keeping Olkola country healthy.

When you join a tour with Olkola you’re joining a unique cultural experience. We hope you come away with memorable, positive experiences and a greater cultural awareness and appreciation.   

“Be prepared to spend time to immerse yourself in country which most people merely drive through and miss most of which is to be experienced.”

The Olkola story – years in the making

In December 2014, Cape York’s Olkola people were given back their land. It had taken 30 long years of hard work, but finally, 633,630 hectares of our ancestral homelands in the south-central Cape York Peninsula were returned to traditional owners – 100 years after the Olkola people were displaced by the government.

 

This was a life-changing result. Now the largest non-government landholders in the region, Olkola Aboriginal Corporation are playing a huge role in determining the future of Cape York and its people. Today, we have more than one million hectares of ancestral land in our care made up of Aboriginal Freehold land, Nature Refuge, National Park, Pastoral Lease (Glen Garland) and Resource Reserves.

Under the handover, the Olkola National Park was created – an area covering extensive wetlands, rare and unique tall open forests, rainforest remnants and savanna woodlands, which is jointly managed by Olkola and the Queensland government.

The park protects ancient bora grounds, rock art and other cultural heritage of great significance to Olkola people. It houses the critically endangered Alwal (golden-shouldered parrot) and other rare and threatened species. It also safeguards the Kimba Plateau – the headwaters of five vital river catchments at the top of the Great Dividing Range.

“That’s what I been doing for so many years — just chasing the rainbow for my people and at the end of the day, we’re going to find the head of it.

This is it. Hopefully, we are part of building the Cape together. Again.”

MIKE ROSS, Chairperson Olkola Aboriginal Corporation

We invite travellers to learn more about this country and our story. To walk the land of our ancestors. To share in one of Far North Queensland’s most remote and beautiful places: Olkola country.

By joining this journey to Olkola’s ancestral lands, you are helping create a thriving future for the Olkola people and Cape York — one that values land and culture, and in doing so provides long-term economic opportunities for the region.

The people who care for country

The Olkola Aboriginal Corporation currently employs Indigenous Rangers to care for the Olkola lands. When you meet the rangers and hear them talk about their story you can see how much the land means to them and how important it is for them to be out there. 

 

Aboriginal land is best handled by the Aboriginal people whose story and history starts there. While on tour you will have the opportunity to meet some of our amazing rangers, and hear their stories.

“It feels really good to be back out on Country working to protect one of our totems, an endangered species” — Ashaley Ross, Alwal Ranger

“It’s good to get our people back on the land. Get the young ones doing the cultural side, pass on the river names, look for artefacts and know their stories.” — Jack Lowdown, Olkola Ranger and Cultural Adviser