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The continent's first inhabitants arrived approximately 50,000 years ago, and over the millennia created a rich tapestry of languages and customs that vary from region to region. From the Arrernte in Central Australia and the Yolngu in Arnhem Land, to the Tiwi people of the Tiwi Islands near the Timor Sea, over 40 different indigenous language groups reside in the Territory.
A common theme across the many language groups is a strong spiritual connection to the land. Aboriginal spiritual beliefs, along with the local laws and history, are shared through the Dreamtime stories. The stories are passed down from generation to generation through art, dance and song, and detail the creation of the landscapes and its human and animal inhabitants.
Pop into one of the Northern Territory's indigenous culture centers to learn about the history, traditions and artwork styles of the local people. Browse art galleries that showcase original paintings, meet the artists at work, or join a guided tour to learn how to make local handicrafts including seed jewelry and basketry.
Sign up for a bush tucker tour led by an Aboriginal guide and learn the ways of the hunter-gatherers. Learn how to source food types, make fire with natural resources, and try unique foods like native nuts and berries, green ants and witchetty grubs.
For a taste of culture in the tropical north, head to the Tiwi Islands. Fifty miles (80 km) north of Darwin, island-goers can take an organized tour to meet the Tiwi people, famous for their printed fabrics and wood carvings.
Comprised of two islands - Bathurst and Melville - and known as the “Island of Smiles”, the Tiwi Islands are where Australian indigenous culture meets Polynesian Customs. Enjoy a day of shopping at the Tiwi Design Art Center, which showcase the traditional bark paintings and wood carvings, along with works from Jilamara Art and Munupi Art from Melville Island.