10 Aboriginal Cultural Experiences in the Kimberley and Pilbara
If you are planning a trip in Australia’s remote north west, make sure to include these 10 Aboriginal arts, languages, and cultural centres in your next holiday itinerary. Don’t forget you can use the WAnderland itinerary planner to add stops to any WA road trip; because when it comes to a road trip, the journey is half the fun!
Wangka Maya Aboriginal Language Centre, South Hedland
Language plays an important role in shaping and preserving cultural identity and Wangka Maya exists to record and preserve these local voices. Established in 1987, Wangka Maya was the first Aboriginal language centre in Western Australia’s north. The centre’s aim is to record and preserve local voices before the last community members who spoke the languages passed. The centre now has resources for over 30 language groups in the Pilbara and has inspired many similar institutions around the state.
Martumili Artists, Newman
The Martumili studio and gallery is a creative hub for many of the talented Indigenous artists from the Parnpajinya, Jigalong, Parnngurr, Punmu, Kunawarritji, Irrungdji and Warralong communities that span the Great Sandy, Little Sandy, and Gibson deserts. Paintings, sculptures and other mixed mediums are used to tell the stories of culture and Country, with landscapes and traditional handcrafts displayed on every wall. The studio showcases the work of more than 500 artists in its showroom and gift shop, and frequently exhibits work in galleries across Australia.
Nganjarli Walk Trail, Dampier
Not all artworks are confined to indoor studios. The Nganjarli (Deep Gorge) walking trail is a large open-air art gallery which features Aboriginal rock art, some images from thousands of years ago. The trail through Murujuga National Park opened in 2021 and offers a unique experience for visitors to take a self-guided approach or join a tour group and journey back through time to an age where now extinct wildlife roamed the lands and foreign explorers first sailed their ships along Australia’s west coast.
Ganalili Centre, Roebourne
Bringing traditional cultural practices into the present, the Ganalili Centre is aptly named in the Yinjibarndi language as ‘a place of new beginnings.’ Built where the Roebourne pub once stood, the building is now the town visitor centre, café and giftshop for the local Juluwarlu Art Studio. The community regularly invites guests to Open Studio to watch artists at work and listen to their stories over a shared traditional meal.
Nyamba Buru Yawuru, Broome
Located in the heart of Rubibi (Broome), the Nyamba Buru Yawuru is committed to protecting and advocating for the mabu liyan (wellbeing) of the Yawaru traditional owners. By hosting Yawaru Ngan-ga (language) and Nurlu (song and dance) programs, the centre aims to re-teach the traditional ways to new generations. Be sure to visit to visit to pick up some educational resources from the centre and even download the Yawuru Ngan-ga language app to learn more about the language and culture of the different local destinations in Rubibi.
Mangkaja Art Centre , Fitzroy Crossing
Many world-acclaimed Indigenous artists including Butcher Cherrel, John Prince Siddon and Jukuna Mona Chuguna have got their start in this innovative art studio in Australia’s bush. The Mangkaja Art Centre is known for the use of vibrant colours and an abstract approach to a range of materials from paper, canvas, glass, Perspex, metal, boab nuts and digital. Following a recent collaboration with fashion brand Gorman and increasing popularity among international collectors, you won’t want to miss visiting this fantastic collection that is bringing traditional legends back to life through modern art.
Waringarri Aboriginal Arts, Kununurra
Located in the heart of Miriwoong country, Waringarri Aboriginal Arts was the first wholly Indigenous owned art centre in Western Australia. Working to bring together members of the many surrounding communities from the east Kimberley and the Northern Territory, the centre aims to re-connect people with their Country and culture through the arts. The centre was refurbished in 2011 and now hosts many private art studios, beautiful wetland gardens, the Dawang Gallery featuring works from the historic Waringarri collection, and has provided public artworks that can be found across Kununurra.
This fantastic modern arts centre is an important educational and cultural hub within the Derby community. Architecturally designed to invoke the form of a Wandjina, the spiritual force of the land’s creators, the centre also acts as an art gallery, museum and performing arts venue. Each July the venue hosts the unmissable Mowanjum Festival, where guests can participate in workshops and enjoy a performance of traditional singing, dancing, and storytelling by the Worrorra, Ngarinyin and Wunumbal people who make up the Mowanjum community.
Warmun Art Centre, Warmun
For the people of a small town, art is everything. It has become an important aspect of life to the Gija people, with older generations teaching the children and young artists their distinctive art style. The studio was founded by three well-known Indigenous Australian artists, Rover Thomas, Queenie McKenzie and Jack Britton. Using natural ochre dyes from the land, these pioneers painted traditional legends, stories of colonialism and the Mistake Creek Massacre, as well as spiritual landmarks such as Gawarre (the Bungle Bungle Range) nearby.
Warlayirti Artists, Wirrimanu (Balgo) Community
The Warlayirti Artists Art and Culture Centre at Balgo is another vibrant and colourful hub of culture located in the Kutjungka desert region. In the heart of the Wirrimanu community, this fantastic art studio and exhibition space represents over 200 artists from at least eight different language groups each telling their own history and Tjukurrpa (creation stories and lore) through their artwork. This small gem in the Australian outback is nearly a 300km drive from Halls Creek but the colour and Tjukurrpa (lifeblood) of the people show through the art which decorates the walls and streets of the small community.
Are you interested in adding some local history and culture stops to your next road trip? Check out our Itinerary Planner feature which allows you to discover and curate a list of Western Australia’s most interesting regional collections to visit on your next holiday.