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Tjapukai Aboriginal Culture Performance Cairns Australia
  • Overview
  • By Day
  • Night Fire
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History and Culture Overview

Located in Cairns, Tropical North Queensland, Tjapukai has been sharing the authentic culture and traditions of the local Djabugay people for the past 28 years, providing employment opportunities for their people and giving the performers immense pride in demonstrating their culture.

More than 3 million people around the world have discovered how to “shake a leg” by joining in traditional performances drawn from Djabugay corroborees, they have learnt how to make fire without a matchstick and been enthralled with the haunting sounds of the didgeridoo.

From its inception, Tjapukai’s mission has been about giving Australians and international visitors the opportunity to experience authentic Aboriginal culture and interact with Traditional Owners. That mission now includes authentic Torres Strait Islander culture.

Tjapukai was founded in Kuranda in 1987 by international theatre artists Don and Judy Freeman, David Hudson, a Ewamian man who was brought up among the Djabugay people, and his wife Cindy. They combined their performance expertise with the cultural knowledge of six Djabugay men – Willie Brim, Alby Baird, Wayne Nicols, Irwin Riley, Neville Hobbler and Dion Riley – to create a one-hour play incorporating the dance-rich culture of the Djabugay people who had lived in the rainforest around Kuranda for tens of thousands of years.

In 1996 Tjapukai moved to a 25 acre site next to Skyrail Rainforest Cableway at Caravonica and expanded to include interactive cultural demonstrations and performances, a cultural village, restaurant and retail gallery. Tjapukai performers were in demand at world events as an authentic example of Australia’s Indigenous culture. These included the Welcome Ceremony for the Sydney Olympic Torch and the bid for the Gold Coast to host the Commonwealth Games in 2018. In 2002 Queen Elizabeth and Prince Phillip’s Australian visit included Tjapukai.

Tjapukai is the largest Indigenous employer of any tourism enterprise in Australia with more than two-thirds of the team Indigenous. Tjapukai works in consultation with Traditional Owners and has injected in excess of $35 million into the local Indigenous community through wages, royalties, and the commissioning and purchasing of authentic art and artifacts.

By day, the park is filled with interactive experiences to give you an authentic insight into Aboriginal culture. 

In the Cultural Centre, witness the ancient dreamtime story of the Tjapukai people's belief in the creation of the world through live performance and the world's most technologically advanced visual effects. Gain an understanding into the impacts of the stolen generation and be inspired by Indigenous heroes past and present as you wander through the History and Heroes walk.The Art of My People talk will guide you through a variety of art styles as you learn about the differences between the Aboriginal clans throughout Australia.

Across the lake, join the world famous Tjapukai Aboriginal dancers in a corroboree celebration and fire making ceremony in  the Cultural Village.Gain an insight into the gathering and cooking of bush foods and the medicinal values of native plants, learn first hand from a warrior about traditional hunting methods and tribal law. Throw a spear with the help of a traditional milay spear thrower and learn the art of throwing a returning boomerang. Journey through the complex techniques of playing a didgeridoo, then be tantalised by the smell of the meat being unearthed from the Bayngga underground oven and enjoy a delicious taste test.

A sumptuous buffet lunch with native tastes and fresh salads is available in the Flame Tree restaurant, while being entertained by our vibrant Tjapukai performers.

Enhance your day at Tjapukai with our talented artists and make your own souvenirs, creating natural rainforest style jewellery, intricate weaving and painting your own returning boomerang in traditional Aboriginal style. In addition, journey through the parklands with an Indigenous Guided Bush Food Walk learning about native plants and their culinary and medicinal significance. Finish with a taste of native fruit jams with damper and billy tea overlooking the lake

Our Indigenous performers bring the world’s oldest living culture to life through traditional cultural events, dance, art and interactive demonstration.

Night Fire

Nightfire is Tjapukai’s evening experience meeting the Bama, the Indigenous rainforest people, who paint your face to link you to their traditional land and take you on a mesmerising journey with the haunting sounds of the didgeridoo.

Night Fire is Tjapukai’s signature evening activity where you will meet the Indigenous rainforest people, who paint your face to link you to their traditional land and more. Follow the Tjapukai warriors to a corroboree celebrating Aboriginal Dreamtime stories and join the Rainbow Serpent circle to learn traditional language songs before the ceremonial fire is lit with a spectacular fire ball shooting towards the stars.

Dinner will see you enjoy Australian meats, seafood and an array of salads and desserts featuring tantalising Indigenous flavours at the Flame Tree Bar & Grill. Relax around the fire with the Tjapukai warriors where there is time for an intimate chat, an end to a night of cultural entertainment.

This activity is available as part of one of our Custom Itineraries or holidays, please visit our home page to learn more about how we can help you with your holiday.

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