Tjapukai Aboriginal Center

The Tjapukai Aboriginal Center in Cairns, Australia, was established to help preserve and share multiple aspects of the aboriginal culture of the Djabugay Tribe. Located at the foot of the gondolas through the Wet Tropics Rain Forest, it was a fun, educational, and unusual place to visit.

Our first experience was a show with music from the didgeridoo and native dancing, in which we were asked to participate. The dances told stories and represented the animals that the tribe encountered. It was unlike anything I had ever seen or heard, but what struck me the most was what a wonderful sense of humor they had, exhibited in both how they teased us and in some of their dances. Part of the show was a demonstration on how the didgeridoo was made and played. Finally, one of the women explained something of food and medicine preparation and about the strong relationship she had with her grandmother.

From the show we got to try throwing boomerangs. I would starve if I had to catch a bird for my food that way. Finally, we had a presentation of their creation story and their sense of themselves as guardians of the land. Guardians of the land are not unlike our belief in humanity being stewards of creation. From that the stories diverge as their dreamers saw all life coming from a time when all was darkness except for the existence of a giant cassowary egg.

The photo shows some of the performers in the show. To the left of the man in the middle is the didgeridoo lying on the floor. The were wonderful ambassadors of their people.

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