Skip to main content
Back to News and media
Tuesday, 07 Nov 2023

Supporting a diverse First Nations tourism sector: Wijingarra Tours

Supporting a diverse First Nations tourism sector: Wijingarra Tours

In the remote North West Kimberley region of Western Australia lies a hidden gem known as Wijingarra Tours. 

Owned and operated by Arraluli Traditional Owner Isobel Peters and her partner Peter Collins, Wijingarra Tours offers a unique Aboriginal immersion experience at the breathtaking Wijingarra Butt Butt, also called Fresh Water Cove. This pristine area is nestled within the Lalang-garran Marine Park, a haven accessible only by boat due to the absence of any roads.

Specialising in boutique cruise ship tourism, Wijingarra Tours is an opportunity to connect visitors, both local and international, to the traditions of the Worrora tribe, the original inhabitants of the land. 

A passionate Traditional Owner, Isobel says that Wijingarra Tours isn't just about showcasing the land's geology; it's a journey through history, culture, and the stories of the Worrora tribe. 

‘When you come on a Wijingarra Tour, you are getting in touch with the story of the country you see from your ship window. Not just the geology, but also the history of the land and its people – the Worrora tribe.’

Wijingarra Tours has a unique position as the sole guided Aboriginal tourism operator in the Lalang-garran Marine Park. 

Their commitment to authenticity is evident in their approach; visitors are only allowed to traverse the land under the guidance of experienced Aboriginal guides, ensuring respect for the cultural heritage and traditions of the area.

‘We only work in my family’s traditional areas of Raft Point, Langgi and Wijingarra Butt Butt. We tell guests stories of our culture, my people and what rock art means to us and how we feel about the country’, said Isobel.

The guided tours are an ethical and a true cultural experience. Guests are met disembarking the charter ships on Country. They are greeted with ochre on the beach, a Welcome to Country ceremony, and then invited to explore ancient caves and rock art sites.

Being located in such a remote region has made maintaining year-round tours really tough. With funding through the NIAA Tourism Grants for Indigenous Business, Isobel and Peter were able to install a solar-powered generator. This innovation proved crucial, enabling the Wijingarra staff to remain on-site throughout the peak tourism season. Previously, lack of power had posed significant challenges for the staff's well-being and operational efficiency.

‘We’ve been really hardy people, we did it with no power, it was really tough, living like that over years and years, it was putting a huge strain on staff, we had no fans in very hot conditions, no stable communications,’ said Peter Collins.

The installation of the solar-powered generator revolutionised life at Wijingarra Butt Butt. With access to power, the team could now implement modern amenities like Starlink for stable communications, lighting in rooms, and proper food refrigeration. 

The business's social impact is undeniable, as it employs around seven staff members, most of whom are direct descendants of Isobel Peters. 

Wijingarra Tours isn't merely a tourism venture; it's about preservation of Indigenous culture, a way for the Peters family to return to Country, live harmoniously with nature, and protect their cultural heritage. Isobel Peters proudly states, ‘It is a special place, and we are proud of it.’

The Tourism Grants for Indigenous Business are helping to generate economic opportunities in the local community and supporting First Nations peoples to showcase Country and culture to interstate and international visitors. 

Related News