Discover Indigenous Australia in northern Queensland’s Olkola country

Olkola people would like to acknowledge the Traditional Owners of the land in which we travel through and our partnership with Eastern Kuku Yalanji, Rinyiirru and Agnarra People Traditional Owners.

Journey to the heart of Queensland’s Cape York Peninsula as guests of the Olkola people - the Traditional Owners of over one million hectares of biodiverse savannah woodlands, river systems, lagoons and rocky escarpments northwest of Laura. The Olkola regained control over their country in 2014 and will guide you on a unique journey to learn about the stories of their country, the uses of plants and animals, and their work as land managers to keep these pristine landscapes healthy. From your base camp at Killarney station you will venture out to special places, see the signs of an ancient Olkola culture etched into the rocks and trees. Enjoy spotting the abundant birdlife along the way before coming back to enjoy a hot shower, home cooked meals, billy tea and yarns around the campfire. Add in some amazing outback sunsets, serene forest streams and a new way of seeing the world though Aboriginal eyes and you have one of Australia’s most unique cultural and travel experiences.


Start
Cairns, Australia
Finish
Cairns, Australia
Country
Australia
Style
Basix
Theme
Explorer, Short Breaks
Code
POBJ
Physical rating
Ages
Min 8
Group size
Min 4, Max 10

Why we love this trip

  • - Join the Olkola people's long journey home, and help them preserve their culture and landscape by building a sustainable future through eco-tourism

  • - Be part of the rediscovery of almost two million acres of traditional Olkola land on a pioneering adventure, where every day can bring a new surprise or unpredictable encounter

  • - Journey through a living cultural landscape, an incredible environment that gains greater meaning through authentic experiences and authentic stories from the traditional custodians

  • - Their return to country helps safeguard the history and knowledge of the Olkola people and their lands – learn about the backbone of their culture firsthand

Is this trip right for you?

  • - The Olkola land remains the same untouched wilderness that their ancestors walked, so accommodation is basic bush camping with basic facilities, but in a unique environment, under incredibly clear, star-filled skies.

  • - This is a truly remote region, home to the world’s largest unbroken savanna and still being explored by the Olkola and invited scientists – there is no Wi-Fi and no phone coverage. This is an ultimate bush experience.

  • - This is still the start of the Olkola people’s story back home, the beginning of them willingly opening up the land to the outside and their time as a tour operator. Therefore the itinerary is subject to change as methods are tested and improved.

  • - The Olkola people’s culture and history is incredibly important to them, and they want to share it with the outside world. To be part of this is a privilege and requires sensitivity and patience towards guides and staff.

Itinerary

Leave Cairns behind and travel up the Peninsula Development Road to Laura, the small gateway village to North Queensland’s Cape York Peninsula and the end of your mobile phone reception. Along the way enjoy a quick break at Mareeba, the last stop on the muster route that drove cattle down the Cape to be transported across Australia and overseas. Leaving Laura we travel over seasonal river beds and the forested Kimba plateau in Southern Cape York along the Great Dividing Range to arrive at Killarney homestead and settle into your base camp for the next four days. Meet your Olkola hosts and enjoy a delicious dinner before hearings stories of the country around the campfire.
Accommodation
  • Camping (with basic facilities) (1 night)
Meals Included
  • Lunch
  • Dinner
Set out in the four wheel drives to enjoy bird filled lagoons and waterways for a traditional Olkola welcome to country. Along the way learn more about the meaning of places to different Olkola clans, and of life for the Olkola in the cattle mustering years which continues elsewhere on Olkola country to this day. Relax in a shady spot by the water for lunch, boil a billy of tea over the fire, and see how many waterbirds and freshwater crocodiles you can spot. Return to Killarney learning along the way about the different uses of plants in Olkola culture. Then watch the sun set over Killarney while sharing stories and dinner with your hosts.
Accommodation
  • Camping (with basic facilities) (1 night)
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
  • Dinner
Today we head out to the escarpment country – etched with the symbols and signs from the ancient Olkola culture. See scar trees from Olkola camps long ago, and understand some of the traditional bush medicines growing around you. Enjoy lunch overlooking the vast savannah plains and distant ranges. Your Olkola guides can explain how Olkola Land Managers now manage fires to keep the country healthy and to earn income from reducing greenhouse gases. If you want to stretch the legs, climb a small rocky peak where you may find small bats sheltering in rock crevices. Or you may be lucky to spot the rare Alwal or Golden Shouldered Parrot, or its nesting site dug into the site of special conical termite mounds. We have a stop at Maryanne Yard, an old stockyard with a working windmill which is an important source of water for the birdlife. Return to Killarney base for a hot shower, delicious dinner and tea around the campfire.
Accommodation
  • Camping (with basic facilities) (1 night)
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
  • Dinner
Today we head to Jungle Creek – a lush spring fed permanent stream feeding into one of the five big rivers which rise on Olkola country and flow both east and west to the Pacific Coral Sea at Princess Charlotte Bay and to the Gulf of Carpentaria. A short walk across the creek are cave shelters with recently discovered rock art. Then its time to relax in a shady spot by a pool for a leisurely lunch and perhaps a refreshing dip in these croc free waters. On the way home stop at “the dancing grounds” where the ground below your feet wobbles above the water table, and perhaps collect some bush oranges on the way back to Killarney base and your final sunset on Olkola country.
Accommodation
  • Camping (with basic facilities) (1 night)
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
  • Dinner
Leaving the cultural landscapes of the Olkola we head back east to Laura then along the sandstone country of Battlecamp Road descending back into rainforest country and across the river to Cooktown. We stop at Old Laura where we visit an historic homestead by the river . After a week of open skies and tents relax tonight in a friendly local guest house, and enjoy dinner and perhaps a stroll along the foreshore of the Endeavour River in the balmy evening.
Accommodation
  • Hillcrest GuestHouse (1 night)
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
After breakfast at the guest house you are free to wander through Cooktown’s local Saturday market and the weekly meeting place for locals, or to explore the local museum. Visit Grassy Hill lookout in Cooktown and the mysterious Black Mountain on your way down the Bloomfield Track – arguably the most spectacular coastal rainforest drive in Australia – to Cape Tribulation, stopping at the iconic Lions Den Hotel to check out this quirky pub. We take the ferry across the Daintree River and head back through the sugarcane country and the spectacular coastal highway to Cairns where the tour ends. But why not enjoy the optional farewell dinner together with your fellow travelers at one of Cairns most atmospheric restaurants, the Bayleaf, a short stroll from the hotel.
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Lunch

Meals

5 breakfasts, 6 lunches, 4 dinners

Transport

Private Vehicle

Accommodation

Camping (with basic facilities) (4 nights), Guesthouse (1 night)

Dates & availability

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Essential Trip Information

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Reviews

Our Journey into Olkola Country trips score an average of 4.67 out of 5 based on 3 reviews in the last year.

Journey into Olkola Country, September 2015

James Pollitt

Journey into Olkola Country, September 2015

Gaille Abud