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A hands-on experience at TribalLink

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An Indigenous man in traditional wear stands on sand pointing ahead. Behind him are 6 Indigenous people also dressed in traditional wear, 3 of whom are young. In the background is a rainforest and at right, part of a building.
TribalLink is a visual and hands-on experience (Photo courtesy of Goombuckar Creations PTY)
7 May 2019

If you want a hands-on, fully immersive experience with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture, then the TribalLink Activity Centre is a must visit.

It is housed in the Queensland Conference and Camping Centre (QCCC) at Mapleton on the Sunshine Coast and delivered in an undercover auditorium which seats 200 people. It has a pristine rainforest backdrop.

Visitors to the centre get to sample bushfood, learn about traditional land management techniques and enjoy dance, didge and song through the day or into the night.

Goombuckar Creations, an Indigenous owned business, has delivered the program for 7 years at Mapleton QCCC.

There are about 12 staff members who provide an experience which includes Indigenous history and perspectives on major events, and the customs, stories, artefacts and language of the people groups of the Sunshine Coast, including Jinibara and Kabi Kabi.

Director of Goombuckar Creations Kerry Neill said visitors also learned survival skills.

‘[These include] building shelter, finding water, recognising and utilising local plants and native cuisine, recognising plants that are poisonous, fire making, reading seasons, recognising local animals, including those that can be harmful and ways to minimise risk to safety,’ Kerry said.

‘We also teach how to preserve and protect our natural environment.’

The program is very popular and is booked all through the school year up to 2 years in advance. It hosts nearly 20,000 students each year and has a total annual clientele of 30,000.

Kerry Neill said the program was successful because the people partnering in and working within the organisation had a shared vision.

‘The TribalLink experience also helps to demystify Aboriginal culture,’ he said.

‘People leave with a better understanding of the practical nature of our belief systems and connection to Country.’

QCCC Director Andrew Grant said TribalLink gave the Mapleton centre a tremendous point of difference from the other QCCC centres.

‘The Rainforest setting and the history of the Bunya Festival on the Blackall Range where we are means there’s also an impressive Aboriginal legacy and pedigree right here,’ he said. ‘TribalLink makes a good Outdoor Ed Centre remarkable, and it is highly likely we will need to expand our accommodation supply to keep up with demand for TribalLink programs from new and existing school groups.’

Expansion is going ahead for TribalLink and QCCC Mapleton, assisted by a recent grant from the Australian Government.

‘We plan to expand the centre, upgrade the facilities and provide more experiences, more opportunities for Aboriginal people to work on Country and play a larger role in increasing the understanding between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal Australians,’ Kerry said.

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