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Traditional Owners launch Cairns eco tours

[supplied by Liz Inglis]


Mandingalbay Boat Cruise. Image: supplied

Dreaming stories describing the creation of the Great Barrier Reef and surrounding World Heritage mountains are shared on a new Indigenous-owned tour on traditional country just a 10-minute boat ride from the Cairns CBD.


Owned and operated 100 per cent by Traditional Owners, Mandingalbay Ancient Indigenous Tours has launched its first scheduled tours for independent travellers after operating exclusively for the group market since 2015.


The Hands on Country tour starts at the Cairns Marina in the heart of the city taking visitors by boat across Trinity Inlet where the salt water meets the fresh water flowing from the mountains on Mandingalbay Yidinji Country.


Indigenous Rangers guide the half-day tour on their traditional land and all are the direct descendants of lead warrior Jabulum Mandingalpai, who was born around 1858 and survived the occupation and settlement of his country.


The Rangers have spent the past decade cataloguing the flora, fauna and culturally significant places on their land and working with scientists to restore wetlands degraded by farming.


The information they have gathered is shared on a guided interpretive walk showcasing their 50,000-year-old supermarket, hardware store and pharmacy which continue to provide food and resources for the Mandingalbay Yidinji people.


Overnight camping and a monthly Deadly Dinner on Country are also part of the Mandingalbay Ancient Indigenous Tours.


Owned and operated by the Mandingalbay Yidinji Aboriginal Corporation in collaboration with its subsidiary Djunbunji Ltd, the tourism enterprise is supported by the Djunbunji Land and Sea Rangers to deliver authentic and diverse cultural tourism experiences.


Djunbunji Executive Director Dale Mundraby said the 100 per cent Indigenous-owned experience had been growing steadily since 2015 and was ready to cater to regular visitors in 2022 with the arrival of a purpose-built 42-seat boat and construction of infrastructure for visitors.


“Mandingalbay Ancient Indigenous Tours is a small business opportunity currently supporting the equivalent of nine full-time jobs that will generate employment for future generations to preserve the Mandingalbay Yidinji culture and identity,” he said.


Mandingalbay Ancient Indigenous Tours acknowledges its funding partners: the Indigenous Land and Sea Corporation, National Indigenous Australians Agency, and the Queensland Government.


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