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Life Happens The adventures of Nora Dunn & Kelly Bedford, Professional Hobos. Nora writes, Kelly makes music. Together, we are on a lifelong journey to...wherever.

Lonely Planet Great Guidebook Moment: Brambuk Cultural Centre

AUSTRALIA | Thursday, 17 July 2008 | Views [3029]

Being from Canada, we feel right at home in Oz. We’ve said it before, and we’ll say it again.


Everywhere we turn, we see more and more similarities between Australia and Canada, and are amazed that two countries so far apart geographically can share so many commonalities.


One such common bond, and one neither country is particularly proud of, is the struggle with our respective countries’ aboriginal people, history, and culture. In settling both countries, our aboriginal people were ill-treated, not respected, and their history was largely erased instead of preserved.

The tragedy persists as now aboriginal people are left fighting for land, rights, and respect. Relations are strained at best, and although apologies have been issued by governments for historical blunders, there is a lot of ground to cover before everything is really okay again. Who knows – maybe things will never be okay again.


Before our journey into the outback, we were warned by some people of towns along the way that they considered unsafe to even stop at, much less chat with the locals (who were predominantly aboriginal). We were told not to make eye contact. We were warned of road-side ambushes, and told our fair share of horror stories – some possibly true, and others obviously not.


But knowing our own aboriginal issues back in Canada, we’ve always maintained that there are two sides to a story. So in many of the towns we have passed through, we’ve made a point of visiting the local aboriginal cultural centre in search of that balance. Some centres were informative, and others were not.


Which is why we were absolutely elated when we rolled into the Brambuk Cultural Centre in the heart of Grampians National Park. Free to all, and run in conjunction with Parks Victoria, this museum-cum-souvenir shop-cum-café is a place you could easily wile away a good chunk of the day.

So naturally, visiting Brambuk on the day of our departure from the Grampian mountains and spending the whole rainy morning there was heaven.


While walking through well put-together displays with nature’s sounds and landscape as the greatest backdrop of all, we took in a wealth of information about the history of the local aboriginal culture, tribes, hierarchy, and ways of living. And you know what? They knew what they were doing! They were well-organized, civilized, extremely knowledgeable of their land and animals, and very clean. In fact, we could stand to learn more than a few things from their historical ways!


We meandered through the displays, admired the local crafts and art for sale, pawed the books, and smelled the fragrant natural soaps. We chatted with the aboriginal employees at the centre, sipped some of the best hot chocolate we had ever tasted, and resisted the café’s menu of delightful bush-treats like natural herbal teas, crocodile, bush-tuk chutneys, and of course, kangaroo.


We were intrigued with Australia’s aboriginal culture prior to visiting the Brambuk Cultural Centre. But now our interests are only further piqued, as we search for a truth to the aboriginal history and people that lies somewhere between road ambushes and the nomadic tribal life of days gone by.

Tags: aboriginal culture, ambassador van, australia, brambuk cultural centre, grampians, world nomads

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