Visit Quinkan country for cultural immersion in Tropical North Queensland

The remote, rugged savannah landscape known as Quinkan Country encompasses the historic gold-rush town of Laura on the Cape York Peninsula.
By AG STAFF June 11, 2021 Reading Time: 2 Minutes Print this page

Laura was added to the National Heritage List in 2018, recognising its outstanding heritage values and the way this dynamic cultural landscape demonstrates how Indigenous peoples adapted and modified their traditions, kin structures and practices to maintain their connection to Country, culture and identity. The 230,000ha area contains an unparalleled body of well-preserved rock art that’s been identified as being at least 15,000 to 30,000 years old and is listed by UNESCO as being among the top 10 rock-art sites in the world. 

The art is spread across numerous sandstone galleries and represents a unique pictorial record of ancestral spirits, or Quinkans, which depict the laws, socialisation, spirituality and cultural practices at the core of Indigenous life and identity in this region and the traditional inhabitants’ strong connection to the land. Included are stencils, paintings and engravings, or petroglyphs. The style is mainly figurative, with depictions of people, animals and mythical beings rendered mostly red ochre with some yellow, black, white and, occasionally, blue hues.

Tourists visit these sites to develop an understanding of the Indigenous stories associated with the landscape, which features many areas of weathered and eroded rock that has shaped this wondrous landscape into the escarpments, rocky outcrops, hills and river valleys visible today. 

Laura is also the venue for the biennial Laura Quinkan Dance Festival that attracts Indigenous people from all over the country and tourists from around the world in pre-COVID times. It’s regarded as Australia’s longest-running Indigenous festival and is one of Queensland’s premier cultural events. It has been coordinated by several different organisations over the years and in 2021 the Ang-Gnarra Aboriginal Corporation has taken responsibility for arranging and hosting the Laura Quinkan Dance Festival for the first time across the weekend of 2–4 July 2021. This is a significant milestone for the traditional owners.

Visit Laura Quinkan Dance Festival.

Also, don’t miss the Jarramali rock-art tours

If you like to escape the crowds and prefer a more intimate wilderness experience in Australia’s rugged outback, with a homestay feel, then this is the tour for you. Jump in a 4WD with a traditional owner or fly in via a helicopter and enjoy a daytrip or overnight experience, camping in an exclusive location only accessible to Jarramali guests on the Cape York Peninsula. Explore hidden rock art and unravel the ancient stories of the Kuku-yalanji people to learn more about Australia’s Indigenous culture. Visit the culturally meaningful Magnificent rock-art site, where you’ll be personally guided by traditional owners through what archaeologists say is a 20,000-year-old outback museum.

Visit Jarramali Rock Art Tours for more.