Touring the Tropical North
We believe in keeping culture strong and caring for country. Our vision is to provide pathways for people to connect with Indigenous community and leaders across the tropical north in authentic ways. This is how we believe we can grow a kindness economy.
We work with Indigenous women's centres and culturally competent operators that offer authentic cultural gifts and experiences for a two-way learning experience.
In 2018 we made a conscious decision to go beyond our hub in Darwin and explore the 'way' to connect from Tiwi to the Daintree.
We are now co-located in Darwin and Port Douglas and growing our presence across the tropical north, following the long standing history through songlines and traditional trade routes along the path now known as the Savannah Way.
If you are looking to tour the top end and experience culture in an authentic way, we encourage you to choose the road less traveled and meet with some of the amazing people we work with. In planning your trip, feel free to contact us so we can help you navigate along the way.
Some of the highlights of where we have been or who we work with that we would recommend visits to include:
Darwin & Surrounds
Check out the events we host at Starwin Shopfront for an authentic cultural experience, or contact us to book something especially for you and/or your group. Shop our range of corporate and cultural gifts for that special memento of your experiences in the top end.
A bit further out, you can visit Pudakul Cultural Tours. A 100% fully Aboriginal owned and operated family business that commenced in 2008. They deliver an original popular Aboriginal culture and nature based engagement experience. This is an authentic experience rich with information, knowledge and culture! For the past two years, Starwin & Pudakul have teamed up to offer a Cultural Showcase at the Royal Darwin Show.
Bima Wear, Wurrumiyanga, Bathurst Island, founded in 1969 it's a Tiwi owned and operated community enterprise. Led by an amazing team of women, some of whom have been working there since it opened, they create amazing sustainable fashion, make a mean cup of tea and love a good laugh. Their designs are internationally recognised and the women who work there are keepers of a wealth of cultural knowledge with the aim to support women and children and cultural events in the community.
At Wurrumiyanga you can also visit the museum, founded by Senior Australian of the Year, Sister Anne, along with Tiwi women, Fiona Kerinauia and her team. Amongst the exhibiton you will see the display on our Tiwi Bombers Youth Girls Leadership Program.
Wajijapi Womens Centre, Pirlangimpi, Melville Island. A TITEB womens centre that is a training hub focused on screen printing and handmade arts. Led by the talented Fiona Puruntatameri, they pop up once a year at the Darwin Aboriginal Art Fair. Garden Pt, is also home of the famous footballer dynasty families, the Rioli and Longs. It is also home to Munupi Arts home of artists like Jacinta Lorenzo, Fiona Puruntatemeri and Debbie Coombes and others who feature in our Alperstein Designs collection
Travel to Tiwi is by Fly Tiwi plane (or private charter) or book your Sealink ferry tickets through us to arrive at Paru. You can do Tiwi Tours on Bathurst Island, or be self led and take the Tuparipiya community bus service to Meville Island (bookings essential).
A special event for the calendar is the Tiwi Islands Football Grand Final + Art Sale in March each year.
Is home to Palngun Wurnangat "In 2016, Palngun Wurnangat added a T-House and Retail Shop Our to its list of core business which already included a takeaway, bakery and butchers, women’s art centre and the Kakadu Plum harvesting businessIn their words "Our Country Our People – The country of the Top End South West of Darwin is wild and beautiful. Termite mounds give way to floodplains, wild horses and palm forests as you drive further West. Wadeye is remote and not on a tourist trail or ‘road to somewhere’ – it’s the end of the line. Murin Travel & Freight flies to Wadeye daily and stores come in once a week by road or by barge."
Down the Arnhem Highway is a special place known as 'Patonga' and home to the Kakadu Billabong Safari Camp where Jim Jim creek system has become the wonderful floodplain resource over the last 6,000 years as the sea levels retreated and the freshwater system we see today has developed. Aboriginal ancestors of the current Mayali landowners have lived through all these changes and developed a rich culture in the region. Their knowledge and culture are shared through the Kakadu Billabong Safari Camp and associated activities. Mandy and her team, Murumburr clan members, invite you to come and experience the wonderful feel of this country and take some time to understand the land and the culture that makes this area so special. In September each year the also host the Mayali Mulil festival
Babbarra Womens Centre is located in Maningrida, which is a place with more than twelve languages. Babbarra have been a featured supplier with Starwin Shopfront since our inception in 2013.
Bábbarra Designs is the main enterprise, including a textile workshop specialising in the production of hand-printed fabric design, as well as a skilled sewing team. We are one of only a few Indigenous textile-producing art centres in Australia that design, print and sew product onsite, in community. Governed by women for women, and led by the strong voices of the Bábbarra Women’s Board. They operate an op shop and a community laundromat, and support women’s centres on remote homeland outstations in the region. A part of Bawinanga Aboriginal Corporation, which was set up by Maningrida community leaders in 1974 to support people to live on their homelands.
If you wanted to join a tour that visits Maningrida, contact Outback Spirit. Prior or post travel you can choose to be accommodated with the group at the DoubleTree Hilton hotel where Starwin Shopfront is located. We love hearing the stories of visitors upon their return.
Hope for Health is a community led initiative to improve health outcomes through their TOGETHER cultural retreats, which take place in rural Darwin, led by cultural leaders from Elcho Island. For thousands of years the Yolngu of East Arnhem Land had thrived, enjoying a vibrant and self-reliant culture. By blending traditional Yolngu culture with experiential nutritional education and an integrative approach to medicine a movement within the community has been created. They hope to continue to reawaken the Yolngu way towards vitality, and so welcome you to join them. The team at Aboriginal Mats are collaborating with Hope for Health on an initiative in 2019 to support the program. Book in for a retreat here.
In 2014, we were fortunate enough to be guests at the Banu Banu owned by Helen and Trevor. Located on Bremer Island, which is 13 kilometres north of Gove on the Peninsula. Founded in 2005, it now is a luxury eco retreat. They want people to experience all that East Arnhem Land has to offer including its pristine beaches and beautiful sunsets. The traditional owners are active supporters of the retreat. Visit the website for more information on how to get there and enjoy this unique place committed to sustainable living.
Yirralka Rangers have been supplying Starwin Shopfront with their range of bush products for a few years now. In 2006, a group of Yolngu traditional owners agreed to incorporate a parcel of their high conservation and culturally significant land into Australia’s national reserve system as an Indigenous Protected Area (IPA). Subsequently, the elders formed Yirralka Rangers to care for land and sea country within the Laynhapuy IPA. "The word Yirralka describes the attachment relationship and responsibilities between Yolngu people and our country." From the outset, they have pursued a ‘both ways’ bicultural approach integrating western skills and science with traditional Indigenous cultural and environmental knowledge.
Walkabout Cultural Tours is a 100% owned and operated Indigenous enterprise. Founded and led by Juan Walker, you can enjoy a day with a local Aboriginal guide exploring the local Kuku Yalanji country, the world heritage listed Daintree rainforest, the diverse environments of tropical North Queensland and cultural connection the people have with the land.
Mossman Gorge is an Indigenous eco tourism development that serves visitors to the Mossman Gorge World Heritage site and provides one of Australia’s most iconic Aboriginal experiences in Tropical North Queensland. The perfect option for visitors looking for a genuine, authentic engagement with Indigenous Australia; with an array of services including Dreamtime Walks, art gallery, cafe and is a training centre for local Kuku Yalanji people. Also home to the talented Sheryl Burchill who's art also features on our Alperstein Designs collection.
Please note these are groups / tours / experience that at certain times may be hard to reach as they may not have access to a full modern suite of facilities / resources.
Getting there could be difficult at times or travel can be impacted on by weather, ceremonies, sorry business and community events.
That's why it's always best to touch base with team Starwin or a local council to seek permits and travel information if you cannot get in contact directly with them.
It's all part of the adventure of travelling the tropical north though and having an authentic experience and developing a deeper understanding of the way of life for first nations people. Be conscious that each dollar you invest in these experiences goes a long way to creating community change.
"On-country experiences will open up the tracks to two way learning. Be mindful of the footprints you are leaving for future generations."
Click here to find some of our connections & more listed in the Discover Australia - Aboriginal Experiences site