THE ROC SERIES | BEING ON COUNTRY WITH AN ABORIGINAL GUIDE IS BETTER THAN ANY CLASSROOM
Spending time with an Aboriginal person on country is the best ‘classroom’ you can provide a visitor, whether domestic or international.
This is the sentiment of Diverse Travel Australia Director Caroline Densley, who has been working closely with Aboriginal people across Australia for nearly 20 years.
“Experiencing the land, environment and wildlife through an Aboriginal person brings a much greater understanding of their connection to country, says Caroline.
“[It also] highlights how the wider community lacks this connection in many ways.”
It’s this connection to country that drives Diverse Travel Australia to continue to work closely with Traditional Owners and Aboriginal tourism businesses to create special journeys and unusual experiences that reflect the unique essence of Australia.
Like the finest gourmet restaurant, we blend the raw ingredients of nature, heritage and indigenous culture into tantalising menus to delight your senses, explains the company’s website.
It’s something that the passionate Diverse Travel Australia team do well, as proven by their high quality special interest, Aboriginal, nature based and wine travel programs.
As a company that achieved Ecotourism Australia’s Respecting our Culture (ROC) certification ten years ago, involving Traditional Owners is something that is integrated throughout the whole business. As Caroline says, having ROC Certification has helped to reinforce Diverse Travel Australia’s commitment to cultural protocols and respecting Aboriginal people.
“[The most important ROC message we try to impart on our guests] is to show respect to the Traditional Owners of the country these visitors have the privilege of visiting, says Caroline.
“The value of ROC [certification] is for the non-Indigenous operator, as it provides them with a set of protocols to follow on how to engage respectfully with Traditional Owners. It’s a two-way process and if undertaken in the right ‘spirit’ there should always be positive outcomes, including supporting the reconciliation process.”
So, what does Caroline think sets Indigenous tourism products and experiences apart from others?
“They offer something that no non-Indigenous tour operator can, suggests Caroline.
“[Things like] Aboriginal stories, handed down through generations, interpretation of land and cultural understanding.
“These stories should only be told by the local Aboriginal people to that area.”
Caroline notes that visitors to Australia often seek out experiences that have Indigenous content, delivered by Indigenous people. She also says that Diverse Travel Australia’s guests love the interaction with Aboriginal guides on their tours:
“A tour with an Aboriginal guide doesn’t have to be seen as only a cultural tour. Adventure activities such as a kayak tour with an Aboriginal guide offer a great tourism experience with the special bonus of your guide having [much more of] a connection to country than a non-Indigenous guide would have.”
For more information about Ecotourism Australia’s ROC Certification program, visit the program website.
[Photos provided by Diverse Travel Australia]