Bama Way is 100% Aboriginal owned and inspired so you can guarantee authenticity of the original Bama culture. Willie Gordon (Guurrbi Tours), with the help of Judy Bennett, began Bama Way in 2003 with export ready Bama tours.
The ideology of linking all the Bama together was the foundation of the first meetings with the original Bama including Willie Gordon, the Walker boys and Walker sisters. These meetings were to determine who was on the land boundaries appropriate to tell the stories, and to see who was export ready. Willie Gordon had been in business for nearly 10 years with Guurrbi Tours and was export ready. The Walker boys and Walker sisters were still in development.
Bama Way tours were to introduce tourists to recognise that where ever they go they are crossing different Aboriginal boundaries – different family & clan groups, different tribal areas with different languages.
Bama Way 2 & 3 day tours will continue to be available. Please contact Carmyn on 0459 78 11 33 for more information and bookings.
We invite you to contact the individual BAMA directly for Aboriginal art and tours on country.
Willie Gordon, Nugal-warra Elder and Guugu Yimithirr speaker, is passionate about his Aboriginal culture and spirituality. Much of his knowledge was handed down by his father. As a small boy Willie would accompany him on hunting trips, learning about the land, its bush tucker, bush medicines and stories. Willie was educated in Hope Vale and Cooktown before attending high school in Brisbane. He originally trained and worked as a boilermaker, then moved to the health sector, becoming Chairman of the drug and alcohol program, and developing and chairing the Apunipima Cape York Health Council. Prior to starting his tour business he was working in mental health with Life Promotion in Hope Vale. Willie launched Guurrbi Tours in 2003, operating on a shoe-string with no government funding. Today Willie’s magical Aboriginal tours are recognised as one of Australia’s must-do experiences, and his small business has received a host of accolades, both here and overseas. In 2007 he received the Gnunkai Best Indigenous Tour Guide Award, and in 2008 was particularly proud to be named Cook Shire’s Citizen of the Year. The Award recognized his contribution to promoting the region and its Aboriginal culture; his work with at-risk youth, and his great contribution to increasing the understanding between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people and communities.
About Garth & Estelle
Estelle is an Aboriginal woman from the Djabugay tribe from the Kuranda area, inland from Cairns. Estelle has been painting seriously for over 25 years and now enjoys far-reaching recognition for her work. Her style is traditional Djabugay in its origins. Garth is originally from the Kunganji tribe, around Yarrabah near Cairns. Garth handcrafts didgeridoos, as well as many other Aboriginal instruments and tools. He then passes them to Estelle, who applies her skills as a painter. The end result is an outstanding piece of art that is meticulous in its execution and yet draws from the most traditional Aboriginal Art.
About the Rock Art
Contrary to popular belief, Aboriginal rock art is not simply an ancient art form: it is a practice that has continued to within the past one hundred years. Willie’s grandfather lived on these lands, and may well have contributed to some of the more recent rock paintings.
Behind the art lies the story of the Nugal-warra people. Different caves depict different aspects of Nugal society and Aboriginal culture – family stories, mythical figures, spiritual beliefs and practical information. Both the caves and the art formed part of a rich and complex society which was successful for tens of thousands of years.
Rarely do visitors have the opportunity to hear the stories behind the rock art which bring the pictures alive. But Willie says that the cave paintings were stories put on the walls by his ancestors so they would be handed down from generation to generation, keeping Aboriginal philosophies and lores alive. He passionately believes that these philosophies and lores should be available for everyone – and once you’ve been on one of our Aboriginal tours, or read some of the stories in Willie’s book, we hope that they become your stories, and that you will pass them on too.
To help keep these stories alive, we are happy for you to take as many photographs as you want. But we do ask that any taken are not used for publication without the express written authority of the Nugal-warra clan.