By Joshua Gliddon
“Some of the engravings are over 6000 years old, older than the Egyptian pyramids,” says Quentin Agius.
Agius, a Ngadjuri man, is referring to some of the oldest carvings ever discovered, which you can encounter on one of the tours he offers through his Aboriginal Cultural Tours.
Since 2003 Agius has been offering the tours which range from a single day outing to three days, where participants will spend each night camping in swags under the stars.
For Agius the tours provide visitors with a connection to the land beyond staring at rock formations and nature. It’s an opportunity for them to connect with Aboriginal culture and Dreamtime origin stories.
Speaking of the single day tours through the Red Banks Conservation Area, in Burra and up to the Clare Valley, Agius says the Conservation Park is an ancient land rich in Aboriginal heritage and Dreaming stories.
Moreover, the Clare Valley is also the home of a rich lode of Australian megafauna sites, where over 65,000 years ago giant kangaroos and huge wombat-like marsupials called diprotodons, roamed the earth.
The tour visits the home of John Horrocks, one of the first British settlers in the area, and Agius uses the home as a backdrop for a discussion about how settlement affected the local Ngadjuri people.
Alternatively, for visitors with a bit more time on their hands, the two-day tour involves a night under the stars, hearing Agius tell stories about the dreaming, including stories of the snake, megafauna and waterhole dreaming.
An early start the next morning sees visitors then travel to the Caroona Creek Conservation Park, on the western edge of the Olary Plain.
Day two, includes a trip to the rocky gorges of the Flinders Ranges, taking in British settlement ruins, and then on to Dares Hill Summit, which provides amazing views of the lands of the Ngadjuri people.
A brief stop for billy tea, and it’s on to see rock engravings near the defunct Ketchowla Station, which is conveniently close to some of the oldest rock engravings in the world, older in fact than the pyramids.
“We also use it as a reason to talk about contemporary issues, and the interactions between settlers and the old people of the land.”
Along with the inland tours, Agius also runs coastal tours of up to three days.
He says the majority of his guests are from overseas, and are eager to learn the history of the local people, and what happened to the local people and culture when they came into contact with white settlers.
His tours, through the bush and along the South Australian coastline are available for parties ranging in sizes from two to three people, all the way through to bus tours of up to 40.
The tours have won several awards, including twice winners of the South Australian Tourism Hall of Fame.