It's a given that the Emirates One&Only Wolgan Valley (EOOWV) is known for its wow factor, with its ritzy resort and tranquil atmosphere, but now guests will have the opportunity to learn about the significance of the land it's on and its connection to the Wiradjuri people.
(min cost $8)
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EOOWV has been working closely with Mingaan Aboriginal Corporation for six years, supporting NAIDOC and cultural restoration projects. With a strong partnership already established, the organisations have developed a series of authentic Aboriginal tourism experiences to take place at the resort.
Guests will get a unique insight into the cultural and environmental values of the Wiradjuri people with tours led by Wiradjuri Elder and Mingaan Wiradjuri Aboriginal Corporation representative Aunty Sharon Riley.
"I see it as really significant for the history of our Wiradjuri culture to start being talked about and told to the broader community and globally," Ms Riley said.
She said having the tours helped promote Wiradjuri people in Wiradjuri country and tell their story.
"Through these experiences we can talk to guests about our history, there's a lot of hardship in there and it needs to be talked about.
"It's not always nice but it's the truth and that's what this year's NAIDOC is about, speaking the truth," she said.
Guests can book with Ms Riley, who has a strong connection with the landscape and extensive knowledge of rock art and places of cultural significance.
They will have the choice of a signature tour of the EOOWV conservation reserve as well as private tours of the Aboriginal protected place Maiyingu Marragu (The Hands), located at the top of the Wolgan Gap.
"On the tours we do a raft of different things, we can do some roping, hands on things, some story telling, share cultural conversations or we can take them out on the property and show them cultural features on the landscape and explain what they are," Ms Riley said.
"Every living thing in the natural environment is significant to us culturally."
She also said she could give guests a bit of an insight into language.
The history of the property is 200 years old but theirs [Indigenous people] is 65,000 years, there's a lot of story to it and the right one needs to be told, therefore the traditional owners are the ones that should do it.- EOOWV special projects manager Brendan Millett
"I will greet them in language or say some other phrases and explain what I've just said," she said.
Ms Riley said part of her mission was to equally guide the Emirates through the journey of what was appropriate to share and what wasn't.
"There might be cultural features that are really significant but not appropriate to share the importance of them.
"There's a lot of stuff we can share but there's also a lot of stuff we can't share, and we need people to show Yindyamarra (respect)," she said.
She said the EOOWV was also a platform for international visitors that come and look at unique places and she wanted to share her cultural knowledge with them.
"I want to tell my story and show them that the landscape is pretty important.
"It's been a long journey, but we're on our way," she said.
EOOWV special projects manager Brendan Millett said the tours were in the initial stages and had been ongoing for a month.
"We've been in the planning stages since last September to get going and we're now actively going out with guests.
"Sharon has been working with us to trial things and because of our big customer data base people have been booking well in advance," he said.
Mr Millett said while there was a luxury side to the Emirates and their tour guides taught guests about wallaroos, kangaroos and wombats, it didn't have the cultural connection and that was the ultimate goal.
"The history of the property is 200 years old but theirs [Indigenous people] is 65,000 years, there's a lot of story to it and the right one needs to be told, therefore the traditional owners are the ones that should do it.
"With Sharon's family having a traditional relationship with the Wolgan River it's important that they are the ones to tell the correct story," he said.
He said it was important for the resort that when celebrating 10 years in October, to have the Indigenous people tell their story to guests and staff.
"We need to learn the cultural sensitivities of what we're doing on the property.
"We want to know how traditional owners managed the land, what the cultural significance is to them and the purpose of what they used this land for.
Mr Millett said the Emirates also wanted to assist with local employment in the area through opening up a cultural centre at The Hands and an Indigenous ranger program.
"We are in the initial stage of the traditional land and what it was used for and then we'll move to doing tourism at The Hands.
"We will be able to create jobs but also protect the cultural values of the land. There's a lot of work to be done but it will be worth it," he said.
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