Aboriginal Experiences

Cooktown Region Aboriginal Culture

Wujal Wujal | Yuku Baja Muliku | Cooktown | Laura | Hopevale

A visit to Cape York and the Cooktown region will enable any visitor to immerse themselves in our region and countries Aboriginal culture. On Cape York we have a representation of two distinct indigenous cultures, Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander. Around 50% of the population is believed to be Indigenous. Here we have and practice true reconciliation in our work our play and live alongside each other (European & Aboriginal Australians) in harmony.

Inseparable from the natural heritage the area is also recognised as a series of living cultural landscapes being the homelands of the Aboriginal people. Their lives customs and beliefs are intricately entwined in plants, animals, waterways and seasons which have provided food, shelter and way of life to the Aboriginal people of this region for thousands of years. It is recognised that Aboriginal people have been living here for the past 40,000 years making them the oldest living culture.

As Today’s Custodians of the Mungumby Estate (TC’s) we are honored to be the custodians of this free hold property. We respect the Traditional Owners (T.O’s) of the surrounding Aboriginal Nations; the nation of the Kuku Yalanji people where our property is located and who are our neighbours, friends and work colleagues. Directly west of Mungumby Lodge the Kuku Thaypan people towards the Quinkan Country and Laura; the Gungarde people from the Cooktown area; the Guugu-Yimidhirr people of the Hopevale region north of Cooktown.

All visitors are welcome and we ask in turn visitors respect the culture of the T.O’s of these different nations and the cultural wishes of the Aboriginal people of Australia. Below is a break down of these distinct areas that we live and work within. We keep this information concise yet informative to help you plan your time here. Mungumby Lodge offers packages that introduce visitors to these regions spoken of below. For the self drive client we are able to book at no extra cost to their selling price, the below Aboriginal Tour operators. Alternatively you can contact each separately yourself if you prefer

28th Sept 2008

“We thoroughly enjoyed our meeting on our traditional lands (Bubu). It was great making decisions about Yalanji business on Yalanji land. Your staff are very professional in their hospitality towards the traditional owners of this area! Thank you, culturally yours Dilora Friday – Kukunambal, Traditonal owner.”

Wujal Wujal

Wujal Wujal is the Kuku Yalanji name given to the area and waterfalls. Wujal Wujal is a coastal Aboriginal Community 45 minutes south of Mungumby Lodge. Originally founded in 1886 by Lutheran Missionaries, the Community became too difficult to administer due to its isolation and the missionaries of the time withdrew from the area. The Community was again opened in 1957 and was administered by the Hopevale Mission Board which was an arm of the Lutheran Church of Australia. In 1979 following representations from the Community Council the name was changed from Bloomfield River to Wujal Wujal. Wujal Wujal consists of only one clan group. Today a flourishing community grows on the banks of a beautiful river.

Bana Yirriji Art Center is a professional gallery space which offers visitors a taste of what Wujal Wujal Aboriginal artists have to offer. A beehive of pottery, printmaking, jewellery and other arts workshop areas showcase the artists at work – a fantastic opportunity to get to know each individual as they put their creativity in motion. As a facility that promotes and supports artists and cultural development in the region, you won’t be disappointed with this neat package of arts and cultural learning.

Take a tour with the Walker Family and learn more about the Kuku Yalanji way of life. A 30 minute walking along the river bank to the falls with a Walker Family member, learning about bush foods, medicines and way of life for the people of Wujal Wujal.

Walker Family Tours
Frances Walker
+61 7 4060 8069

Yuku Baja Muliku (Archer Point)

The Yuku Baja Muliku people are the Traditional Custodians of Archer Point, which is located 20km north of Mungumby Lodge. These traditional lands border two of Australia’s world heritage areas – the Wet Tropic & World Heritage Rainforest and the Great Barrier Reef. After many decades of pastoral leases the Yuku Baja Muliku people were successful in claiming this land back, which was returned to thesepeople in 2002. It is now assisted by the Queensland Aboriginal ranger program, so the responsibility of these people is to ensure sustainable management of this region, which is rich in coastal biodiversity. Since this successful land claim was made the land has been thankfully opened up by the Yuku Baja people for all Australia’s to enjoy. Make sure you look after this country and respect the traditional owners wishes.

Yuku Baja country covers 22,500 hectares and is rich in cultural sites, which are entwined with fringing coral reefs, beaches, rainforest, woodlands, mangroves, saltpans, and sea grass beds. The biodiversity of the region includes turtles, dugongs, bennetts tree kangaroos, and striped possums. Furthermore, the region includes some  pristine fringing coral reefs and is the convergence zone between the healthy and stable turtle and dugong populations of Cape York and the declining populations to our south. This area is made up of conservation reserves, National Park, resource reserves, nature refuge areas, Aboriginal freehold and freehold land. At Archer point there is a Turtle rehabilitation centre (not open to the public) and ocean side camping is allowed. We all ask people to take their rubbish with them and respect country.  Please consider donating to the turtle rehabilitation centre.

Yuku Baja Muliku Land Trust

T: 4069 6957
F: 4069 6501
E-mail: coral.hale@archerpoint.com.au
PO Box 1011, Cooktown QLD 4895


Gungarde is the community of people who live in and around the area of Cooktown. Cooktown was established in 1873 as a port for the Palmer River gold rushes. As a result of approximately 30,000 prospectors flocking to the area the toll of disease and virus were shocking to this population of Aboriginals.

In the early 1870’s there were an estimated 1,000 Aboriginal people in the Cooktown area alone, with this number reduced to about 100 by 1897. The establishment of the mission at Hopevale contributed to the survival of these people. There is a Gungarde community centre located in Cooktown and many tributes in Cooktown to the reconciliation of white and Aboriginal people. Don’t for get to visit the Milbi Wall (The Story Wall) built by Gungarde at Bicentennial Park


Laura is a small remote township 130 kilometers west of Mungumby Lodge and sealed all the way allowing all vehicle access. Laura is the gateway to Cape York and Lakefield National Park. A township that typifies the Australian outback and what Cape York is all about. The birds feeding in the Mango trees, the native police prison, the traction engine and railway steps in front of the general store and post office. All remaining European tributes to the Palmer gold rush and the Cooktown to Laura railway days. The Aboriginal people from this region were greatly affected by the arrival of the miners and colonising of Queensland. Their history and connection with the land is some of the regions oldest.

In the Centre of town is the Quinkan Regional Cultural Centre an excellent experience for Aboriginal art on the rocks and culture. Lex Bloomfield is the manager of the centre. The cultural centre is a region Visitor Information Centre (VIC) and offers a well presented insight to the Pioneering history of Cape York and its rich Aboriginal culture. Whilst visiting the centre, considering booking at tour of the Aboriginal rock art within the sandstone shelters on the escarpments surrounding Laura. Guided tours are conducted with traditional elders such as Johnny Ross (KuKu Thaypan speaker) and Steve. At the centre you can pay and book for self walk options and Aboriginal guided tours. Visit www.quinkancc.com.au for more information. The Ang-Gnarra Aboriginal Corporation is responsible for the Quinkan reserve management.

The Laura Dance Festival is a premier celebration of Aboriginal culture in Cape York. It is a biennial event held every uneven year (ie 2015 with the next event 2017) show casing the culture of the Aboriginal people of Cape York through song, story telling and dance ceremony performance.

The Festival enables the wider community to witness and gain insight into the uniqueness of Aboriginal culture. Festival spectators witness the story telling of Aboriginal culture through dance, language and art.

Guided Aboriginal tours to Split Rock, Mushroom Rock, Giant Horse and others are available at the centre. Please call Lex to arrange or at no extra cost you can book with us online or ask your travel agent.

Quinkan Regional Culture Centre
Lot 2 Peninsula Development Rd
Laura, QLD 4871
+61 7 4060 3457
Fax: +61 7 4060 3470


The community was initially intended as a refuge for the Guugu-Yimidhirr people as a result of the Palmer River gold rush. Hopevale is a diverse community comprised of traditional owners (T.O’s) and a mix of people moved into the area.

Hopevale was established as a Lutheran Mission in September 1949, for Aboriginal people from Cape Bedford and Hope Valley settlements. It is located a rough 46 kilometers north of Cooktown.

At the outbreak of the Second World War the Guugu Yimithirr people, along with the local missionary Pastor Schwarz, were interned at Woorabinda, near Rockhampton. In just one month, twenty-eight people lost their lives with nearly a quarter of the people dying over the next eight years from disease and virus.

In 1986 the community of Hope Vale became the first to receive a Deed of Grant in Trust (DOGIT) and formed the Hope Vale Aboriginal Council.

Each trust area became a local government area. Incorporated Aboriginal Councils, which elected representatives every three years, manage the community’s affairs which are overseen by an appointed CEO.

The Councils are able to make bi-laws, appoint community police and are responsible for maintaining housing, infrastructure, the Community Development Employment Program (similar to work for the dole), licenses, hunting and camping permits.

Where to see Indigenous Rock Art in Cooktown

Language groups for this region:-

Guugu Yimithirr Gaamay Warra Dhanil Warra Ngurrumungu Warra Dingal Warra Gulaal Warra Darrba Warra Binhdni Warra Nguaagdha Warra Dhiidharr Warra Burrnga Warra Gambaar Warra Dhuubi Warra Nugal Warra Nguymbarr Nguymbarr

Cape Bedford