Innovative new Indigenous inspired cruises to hit the Coorong

Exploring culture: Guides Darryl and Mark Koolmatrie and Spirit Australia Cruises' Jock Veenstra.
Exploring culture: Guides Darryl and Mark Koolmatrie and Spirit Australia Cruises' Jock Veenstra.

An innovative new tour is set to launch in the Coorong this weekend, offering an authentic Indigenous cultural experience, led by traditional owners.

In a state first, the tour will be launched on Saturday March 14, and includes a cruise along the waterways and wetlands of the Coorong, before Indigenous guides take participants ashore and lead them through the traditional practices and lifestyle of the Ngarrindjeri people.

As part of the project, Spirit Australia Cruises, who have been operating from Goolwa for the past 25 years, have teamed with Ngarrindjeri man Mark Koolmatrie, founder of The Tribal Expertise Facility, who specialises in operating authentic Indigenous tourism experiences and tours.

Mr Koolmatrie said that as an original custodian, it was important to pass on the history of the region and its people.

"It's very important to share knowledge and to share our history," Mr Koolmatrie said.

"We also have a shared history with Spirit Australia Cruises who have been here for 25 years and it is about time we come together as one and share this whole journey."

Spirit of Australia Cruises marketing manager, Joel Hirsch said that over the past two decades, a focus on Ngarrindjeri culture has been an important feature of the company's tours.

"With the help and collaboration of Mark, we've now been able to create an authentic cultural experience that we can offer to tourists and the public," said Mr Hirsch.

"This initial tour will act as a trial and we are hoping it becomes something on offer regularly as part of our tour schedule."

The tour, which runs for four-and-a-half hours, has already been receiving strong interest.

Participants will cruise down the Coorong before travelling through the Goolwa lock, where they will then continue before being guided ashore and taking part in an expertly guided experience through dunes, beaches and middens.

Mark and other traditional owners will share their knowledge, language and initiate tourists into the country with a smoke ceremony, while they learn about the bush-foods, berries and medicinal plants they pass along the way.

"We will offer an up-close and authentic Indigenous experience from traditional owners," said Mr Koolmatrie.

"People will get to see Australian bush-foods and medicines as well as cultural heritage sites that are not seen in normal circumstances."

The 'Ngarrindjeri Kurangk Culture Experience Tour' launches on March 14 and will run between 10am and 2:30pm, launching from Goolwa.

Adult, concession, child and family passes are available and the tour also includes lunch including native "bush-food elements" and local produce and beverages.

For more information, and to book call 1800 442 203 or email:

This story Indigenous focused cruises hit the Coorong first appeared on The Times.