Aboriginal Rock Art on the Bama Way

willie gordon, bama way aboriginal cave painting
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Authentic aboriginal rock art needs to be seen with a guide to learn the true stories behind the paintings and some of the best rock art can be seen on Willie Gordon’s tour of The Bama Way in Cape York.

meet willie gordon

Learning about aboriginal culture with Willy GordonThe tour guide on the Bama Way Aboriginal cave painting tour is Willie Gordon. He is an Aboriginal Elder, a traditional story keeper and a real character who you can’t help warming to as soon as you meet him.

He has a twinkle in his eye and plenty of great jokes to keep you amused throughout his tour.

He is also fantastic with kids and has a really great way of involving them in the tour and providing plenty of fun activities for them along the way.

meaning of bama way

aboriginal rock artThe Bama Way is actually an aboriginal trail through land belonging to two different aboriginal clans, the Guugu Yimithirr and Kuku Yalangi people, located just north of Cooktown in Cape York.

The word Bama (pronounced Bumma) simply means ‘person’ and the word Way means the trail of the region’s history.

the tour

Willie either collects people from Cooktown or meets you at the starting point of the tour, which is a little paddock just outside the Indigenous community of Hope Vale.

bama way aboriginal walking trailWe began the tour by following Willie along a well-worn path through bushland and rocks. We stopped quite a few times along the way to hear about trees and plants and what they are used for.

Some are used to make bush medicine, some for traditional bush tukka and others for carving bowls. Willie also showed us how to make soap out of leaves, which is like watching a magic trick.

We also stopped regularly to watch wildlife. We saw plenty of birds and little lizards on the path but luckily we didn’t see any snakes.

We also learned how to attach fallen nuts to the end of sticks and fling the nuts out across the savannah while standing atop a rocky lookout. The kids on the tour loved this activity.

aboriginal dreamtime stories

bama way aboriginal cave paintingsOn the day we did Willie’s tour the weather was stinking hot, which is quite normal for Cape York.

Luckily there are several opportunities on the tour to sit down in the shade and drink water while Willie tells some of the traditional Dreamtime stories that have been passed down to him from his father.

We were also shown many Aboriginal cave paintings and rock art. Each one has its own story. Willie says the artwork reminds his people who they are and gives them renewed historical and spiritual links with the land.

children aboriginal rock paintingWe all admired aboriginal cave paintings of the Guurrbi Man (head of the family, someone of authority), dingoes, totems, handprints, animals and many more aboriginal images.

The kids also got to paint their own small rock in traditional browns and reds made out of natural ochre dirt which they left in one of the caves.

aboriginal culture

The Bama Way tour is a great way to spend time with an Aboriginal elder and learn about Indigenous Australian culture.

On the tour we even visited the Birthing Cave where indigenous women used to go to have their babies as well as the Death Cave. It was really fascinating listening to Willie’s tales and learning about the Australian Aboriginal history of the region through artwork and traditional storytelling.

And Willie is a fantastic and thoroughly entertaining guide.

travel nq fast facts:

travel nq reviewing the bama way

  • The Bama Way Tour only operates between 1 April and 30 November. For more info go to www.bamaway.com.au
  • Wear closed in shoes (there are lots of ants).
  • Take snacks along with you, especially if you’re taking children. Water is provided but you may wish to take additional drinks.
  • The tour is supposed to last for 3.5 hours but on the day we went it was almost 5 hours.
  • The walk isn’t strenuous but some level of fitness is required.

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