"There is something about spending a day immersed in our country that does wonders for your soul. It's not often we disconnect from the modern world and take the time to truly appreciate our culture, history and the land we walk on and call home.
That's why the Walkabout Cultural Adventures tour was such a wonderful experience for me. We were promised a day alongside Aboriginal guides exploring Kuku Yalanji country, the only place where two world heritage sites meet - Daintree Rainforest and the Great Barrier Reef - and learning about environment, bush foods and medicines, and the history and cultural connection Indigenous people have with their land.
But it gave so much more than that. It gave me the opportunity to take a step back from my busy lifestyle, slow down time, and put all of life into perspective by simply appreciating exactly where you are at that point in time. From the moment we took off on our adventure you're immediately struck by the stunning landscape sheer beauty of the nature that surrounds you. The juxtaposition of mountains meeting the ocean is breathtaking and never have I seen such vibrant green all around me - a true tropical paradise.
Whether it was farming for pippies on the beach, cracking open some beach almonds or a fresh coconut, there was always something waiting for us to explore and experience. Ordinarily you would probably walk right past these natural food sources but sometimes you really do have to stop and smell the roses. Or, in this case, some beautifully fragrant limes we picked off a tree on the side of the road.
I also experienced hunting crab for the first time in my life. I admit our expert tour guide Juan did most of the hunting but still – how many people can say they have hunted their own food before? I’d like to think I offered plenty of moral support as we wove in and out of mangroves looking for crab so we could end up having lunch. On a serious note, it does put things into perspective about Indigenous people who have managed to live off our land for over 40,000 years. I certainly don't have the skills to do it alone and you end up having a big appreciation for those who can.
Juan spoke with such sincerity and passion about this family’s connection to the area and was so generous with his knowledge and teachings of cultural history and practices. It was a joy to spend a day in his presence and I learned plenty from him that I will carry with me for years.
We finished off the day swimming at Mossman Gorge and it was the perfect way to end the tour. The cool, refreshing water and relaxing surrounds was truly cleansing. I could have stayed there for hours.
It dawned on me on the way home that not once during the day did I look at my phone to see what time it was, let alone anything else the device could offer me (apart from taking a few photos and videos to capture the moments in time I wanted to cherish!). Instead, I completely surrendered to the present moment and lapped up the opportunity to learn and appreciate all that this tour could offer me. Perhaps that was the most important lesson of all."
Jessica Webster, author of Gods of Thunder joins Juan Walker on a Walkabout Cultural Adventure