The Wukalina Walk Is Making Australia A Better Place, One Person At A Time

Breathtaking scenery, and a transformative experience.

The Wukalina Walk Is Making Australia A Better Place, One Person At A Time

Photo credit: Tayla Gentle

The wukalina Walk is the only Tasmanian Aboriginal owned multi-day hiking trip around. It provides a unique opportunity for guests and guides to connect. Located in North-Eastern lutruwita (Tasmania), the wukalina Walk goes through the larapuna (Bay of Fires) region, ending up at a restored 1800s cottage at Eddystone Point, allowing you to learn about Tasmanian Aboriginals’ land and culture, on their terms. It is a 4 day, 3 night tour.

A spring gleams, waves roar, and wind pelts sand into your eyes. You take off your hiking boots and trudge up a dune, following in the footsteps of your guide so you don’t step on one of the piles of shells (these Cultural Living Sites can be up to 45,000 years old). You get to the top and peek around (between gusts of wind), scarcely believing this pool, tucked behind a sand dune, barely 30 metres away from the ocean, could be fresh.

You get down on your haunches and take a sip. Yep: fresh. This is just one of many revelations you are going to have on the wukalina Walk, an Aboriginal owned and operated walking tour of the Mount William and larapuna (Bay of Fires) region. As our guide, Cody, explains, these midden mounds (as we are used to calling them) are not just mounds of discarded seafood (as the phrase can imply), but are important cultural living sites where Tasmanian Aboriginals used to live, hunt, cook, conduct smoking ceremonies and spin yarns.

WATCH: 4 days in 30 seconds on the wukalina Walk

This is just one of the revelations I had on the wukalina Walk, which I recently was lucky enough to join. Here’s a sample itinerary, as well as everything I learned along the way, and why I reckon it’s the hiking experience you should do in Tasmania.


Fly to Launceston

We had a tasty feed in Stelo at Pierres. Image Credit: DMARGE

We flew to Launceston on Thursday evening, had dinner in Stelo at Pierres (local produce through an Italian lens) and then spent the night at Hotel Verge. This is just an example of what you might do, though, and is not included in the wukalina Walk tour.

Visit The Elders Centre

This is where the wukalina Walk experience begins. On Friday morning we went to the Elders Centre. We ate scones and drank tea with Elder Aunty Sharon and wukalina Walk’s general manager Gill Parssey. While doing so we learnt about the palawa story – one of sustainability and wellness, violent upheaval and resistance, survival, strength, healing and excellence.

Drive to the start of the walk

View from the top of the larapuna lighthouse. Image Credit: DMARGE

Depending on which walk you book (it varies between summer and winter, and the one we did was slightly different again, as it was a media trip), this part may vary. For us, we drove to Mount William (a couple of hours’ drive from the Elders Centre in Launceston) and walked to the top, on our first day. We then drove to Eddystone Point to stay in a beautifully restored lightkeepers cottage from the 1800s (at this point most normal tours would walk to the architecturally designed standing camp of krakani lumi in domed-ceiling huts).

Three days of walking (with the first and third being the main ones)

Enjoy two main days of hiking, fit around one day (in between) of relaxing around camp and being shown around a cultural living site (walking short distances). On your last day of walking (this day comprises walking 17km along some of the most stunning beaches in the world), end up at larapuna (Eddystone Point), to stay in a restored lighthouse cottage. Experience cultural activities, bush tucka, traditional foods and lots of yarning all along the way. Oh, and see Deep Creek on your way, too.

Drive Back To Launceston

After sleeping at the restored 1800s cottage, drive back to Launceston.

Have Dinner At Geronimo

Dessert at Geronimo. Image Credit: DMARGE

This isn’t part of the wukalina Walk, but if you’re after Tasmanian produce done with Eurocentric flair, it’s a good choice for your last meal before flying out the next day.

Why You Should Try The wukalina Walk

The scenery is beautiful

Top of Mount William. Image Credit: DMARGE

I’m a sucker for scenery. And the wukalina Walk has it in spades. From Mount William, which we climbed on our first day, to Eddystone Lighthouse (where you arrive on your last night of walking), there are more incredible vistas than you can poke a sprig of kunzea at.

The accommodation is epic

Accommodation in the standing camp. Image Credit: DMARGE

The camp where you stay two nights (during the summer iteration of the walk) is amazing, with fancy-looking (but natural, and sustainable) huts designed in the traditional domed shape. Inside the huts lie two beds, netting for airflow (if you want it) and a wooden flap that can be opened or shut depending on whether you like to wake up with the light, or wake up when you like. These huts are also singed on the outside to make them less fire prone.

You get to shower in what feels like a ‘tree house’

View of the main hut, from one of the sleeping cabins. Image Credit: DMARGE

At the standing camp, the main big hut which has a kitchen, a fire pit, bathrooms and showers, is just as impressive as the domed huts you sleep in. My personal favourite part of this experience was showering. The shower was a far cry from every other grim camping/caravan park shower experience I’ve ever had. The floor and walls are made of wood, the water is nice and hot, the shower has a large, rainforest-esque type head, and there is a flynet through which the steam escapes, and where you can look out into the bushes, hear the birds, and feel like you’re showering in a tree house.

You experience a smoking ceremony

The fire blazes (post smoking ceremony). Image Credit: DMARGE

On our first night on larapuna country, we experienced a traditional smoking ceremony. As our guides explained, these ceremonies would be done when arriving on new land, as a cleansing spiritual ritual.

You experience the magic of kunzea

A bundle of kunzea, which we stopped for on our way back to Launceston. Image Credit: DMARGE

Whether it’s in tea or in damper, this booming new ‘superfood’ is actually very old. Though many more people are now cottoning onto it and taking it for its medicinal benefits in the form of creams and oils, Tasmanian Aboriginals have been using it to soothe irritated skin and muscular pains for thousands of years. We got to pick some fresh and drink it in tea, and also see it used akin to rosemary in cooking.

You get taken to see a cultural living site

As mentioned at the beginning of this article, you get taken to see a sacred site and learn about its history. During this part of the tour we were also shown how you can wash your hands by rubbing a certain kind of succulent leaf between them, and how to tell whether a stone is just a stone, or whether it might have previously been a tool.

You get taught traditional weaving methods

Making bull kelp baskets and shell necklaces. Image Credit: DMARGE

As well as creating twine necklaces and bracelets, we were shown how to make small kelp bags. Our guides Cody and Carleeta also explained the traditional burning methods (regularly burning the undergrowth, in small areas at a time) and how it protects the animals and the land from larger-scale fires.

You get to eat a lot of bush tucka

Eating ‘sea popcorn’. Image Credit: DMARGE

From ‘over the fire’ muttonbird to ‘fresh off the sand’ sea popcorn I ate a lot of food I’d never eaten before on this trip.

It’s not just a walking tour

Mutton bird cooking over the fire. Image Credit: DMARGE

The wukalina Walk is not just a walking tour. We started at the Elder’s Centre in Launceston (you can fly to Launceston direct from Melbourne and Sydney), where we chatted to Elder Auntie Sharon, who taught us a little about the history of the island. This was just the beginning though. After leaving the Elder’s Centre we met up with our super savvy guides Carleeta and Cody, who continued teaching us about their culture and history throughout the entire journey.

The wukalina Walk forces you to confront Australia’s dark history

Though many non-Aboriginals pay lip service (if that) to the history and culture of Australia (and the massacres that occurred during colonisation), a lot of people – myself included – don’t walk around day to day with any of this really in mind. The wukalina Walk forces you to stop sweeping this under the rug. Though this realisation isn’t enough in itself to change things, it’s a start.

The wukalina Walk is Tasmanian Aboriginal owned and operated

Our awesome guides, Carleeta and Cody. Image Credit: DMARGE

By doing the wukalina Walk, you are supporting an Aboriginal owned and operated business. One of the biggest eye openers for me was seeing how the wukalina Walk offers young Palawa people the chance to connect with their country and culture, while also sharing parts of it with guests, on their terms. This is also a great way for guests to learn about the Tasmanian Aboriginal culture, without being as much of an imposition as you might be in another context (although it is still encouraged you do your own research, and educate yourself before you come, as the burden of educating people about Australia’s dark past shouldn’t all fall to those who have been impacted most by it).

The wukalina Walk can be a transformative experience

Walking up Mount William. Image Credit: DMARGE

Though there were heavy moments and hard truths to swallow throughout, our gracious guides filled me with hope for the future and inspired me not to be such a privileged cynic. I now want to learn more about the land I live on and more about what non-Aboriginals can do to help Aboriginal communities achieve self-determination (the challenge is now putting my money where my mouth is and doing it).

I now better understand ‘self determination’

“Self-determination” always used to sound like a vague buzzword to me. I associated it with ineffective politicians and evasive corporate speak. But a lot of that was down to laziness on my part. Seeing the wukalina Walk’s passionate founders and operators actually live and breathe the term, has helped me understand it better.

The writer travelled courtesy of Tourism Tasmania.

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