We were lucky enough to join Tasmania’s newest guided walking tour ‘The wukalina Walk’ in October, for a 4 day/3 night Aboriginal Cultural experience along the Bay of Fires in North East Tasmania.
The walk departs from Launceston on Sundays from September to April. It is a small group tour that runs with a minimum of four people and a maximum of ten people with 2 - 3 Tasmanian Aboriginal guides per tour.
We stayed at The Sebel Launceston the night prior to our tour departing and this was a perfect property to stay pre walk with great onsite facilities and helpful staff.
We were picked up at 7.30am outside reception by Steve our bus driver who was full of very handy information! We drove to the Aboriginal Elders Centre where we met Tasmanian Elders (Smoky and Aunty Sharon) along with our guides Carleeta, Djuker and Jacob. After packing our bags, we had an information session and morning tea before setting off on our 2.5 hour drive to Mt William National Park.
After a Welcome to Country ceremony, we departed for our walk up to the summit of Mt William (wukalina) for lunch where we enjoyed amazing views over the Bay of Fires and Cape Barron Island. It was here that we learnt about the area we would spend the next four days in, and the significance of this area to the Tasmanian Aboriginal people.
We then continued onto the standing camp (krakani lumi), our home for the next two nights where we were greeted with sparkling wine, a cheese platter and were invited to be involved in a traditional Smoking Ceremony. This was the first time we had both experienced a Smoking Ceremony, where we felt very fortunate to be a part of such a special cultural tradition.
For dinner we enjoyed local scallops cooked over the open fire, mutton bird, fresh fish and salads – an amazing dinner!
Overall we found the first day of walking to be of a medium level with approximately 4.5 hours of total walking including a 40 minute uphill walk to the summit of Mt William.
After a delicious breakfast of muesli, fresh fruit and pastries day two of our walk began. This was a relaxing day spent at krakani lumi camp where we both learnt a lot about Aboriginal Culture and the Tasmanian Aboriginal people.
The morning was spent walking along the nearby beach to an Aboriginal midden site where we learnt about the history of the site, what is was used for and cultural stories. We also learnt about the native wildlife, Aboriginal bush tucker and its uses along with the history of the whole north east region.
We enjoyed lunch back at camp and the group then separated to learn about traditional cultural activities.
The men made and played clap sticks (a musical instrument) and learnt how to make and use Tasmanian Aboriginal hunting weapons such as Waddys, Spears etc.
The women spent the afternoon learning about and making traditional shell necklaces using Mareener Shells sourced from Cape Barron Island. We were lucky enough to see some beautiful Mareener jewellery that had been passed on to our guide, Carleeta.
Both of us really enjoyed a relaxing day two, we felt we learnt a lot about the history of Tasmanian Aboriginal people and felt very welcomed into their community by being shown around the midden site and being a part of cultural activities.
Our third day started with an early breakfast as we prepared for our longest day of walking - approximately 17km from our home at Standing Camp (krakani lumi) to Eddystone Point (larapuna). We were told this would take around 6 hours of walking so knew we were in for a big day!
The walking was mostly along the stunning beaches of the Bay of Fires, with some stretches inland on coastal bush tracks. We had many stops including another midden site, watering holes and of course learnt more interesting facts and information about the history of Tasmanian Aboriginals and the surrounding land.
All day, we could see the Eddystone Point Lighthouse in the distance, so could see our destination. In the end, the walking was easier than we both expected and were just blown away with the stunning scenery.
By roughly 4pm we arrived at Eddystone Point (larapuna) to a glass of sparkling wine and were then shown to our 5 bedroom cottage which was home for the night. It has recently been refurbished and it is just lovely - the perfect place to relax after a big day of walking.
We enjoyed another amazing dinner (best lasagne we have ever had!) and stories around the campfire before getting ready for an early night.
Our final day was much more relaxed, and after a late breakfast of eggs and bacon we headed off for an easy walk around Eddystone Point (larapuna). We were taken to a lookout with amazing views over the Bay of Fires all the way south to St Helens, an old quarry site and were provided with a tour of the lighthouse (exclusive to the wukalina Walk).
We then enjoyed lunch before experiencing a traditional goodbye ceremonial, our final activity before heading back to Launceston. This was another first for us, and something we will remember for a long time. It felt very special to be a part of and was another example of just how welcoming and accepting the team at wukalina Walk made us feel.
The drive from Eddystone Point back to Launceston took around 2.5 hours, where we felt privileged to meet elder Aunty Audrey back at centre. She had an amazing collection of Mareener shells and jewellery to show us.
In summary, both of us absolutely loved our time spent with The wukalina Walk and we feel very lucky to have been given the opportunity to experience this tour. We both learnt so much about the Tasmanian Aboriginal Culture, its people, the land and have been left with lifelong memories.
We can’t thank The wukalina Walk enough for having us and would highly recommend this tour.