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The Journey Experience

Jacqueline Donaldson shares a travel story from her time on Olkola country.

The Journey Experience

It was on an overcast Monday morning when we left Cairns and travelled dusty roads to the blue skies and expansive bushland of Olkola country.

On arrival, we received a warm welcome from Olkola Traditional Owner and Station Manager, who in the space of a few sentences turned us from people on a trip to guests in his home. Later, around a crackling campfire, guides and Olkola Elders joined us and we shared our stories – in particular what led to this trip on country and the area’s nature, history and living culture.

It is rare in an age of consumer tourist experiences to encounter something genuine. This journey into Olkola country was that and more. To spend time with people on their land and see how much it means to them, to see the Australian bush anew with its richness and life-giving attributes and to be welcomed into a family and culture so freely is not something that happens every day.

There were stand-out experiences on this journey to Olkola country: the powerful welcome to country; singing to Olkola ancestors to let them know we came as friends before climbing Kimba Plateau to see ancient rock paintings.

We also learnt about bush tucker and the significance of local plants from traditional Elders, swam at Jungle Creek, witnessed the artistic temperament of termites, saw upwards of forty endangered Alwal (golden-shouldered parrot) at Maryanne Yards and sat around the campfire as the stars surfaced.

“To spend time with people on their land and see how much it means to them, to see the Australian bush anew with its richness and life-giving attributes and to be welcomed into a family and culture so freely is not something that happens every day.”

This journey wasn’t five star – we were camping and travelling dirt roads over long distances. But we had all come for an experience of country and to encounter the unique story of a people and a living cultural landscape. This we rated a million stars, same as those we gazed at night.

You can also share in this unique experience.

“You are travelling in wide, open, exciting country and learning about an ancient culture - keep your eyes, minds and senses wide open too.” - Traveller in 2016