Book review: Welcome to Country | Marcia Langton

‘Welcome to Country’ is a travel guide to Indigenous Australia: a whopping 230 page book by one of Australia’s most important voices for Indigenous Australia.

Accompanied by stunning imagery, the book is written in two parts. The first introduces the reader to Indigenous cultures and the second breaks the country into states and delves into each one’s Indigenous tourism offering.

The introduction to Indigenous cultures couldn’t come at a more pertinent time. With a growing number of people seeking out genuine cultural experiences, it includes an overview of cultures and languages, kinship (or how people are related to eachother), art (including why it is important to establish the authenticity of an artwork), performance, storytelling, a comprehensive list of Indigenous writers and their works, Native Title, the Stolen Generations, NAIDOC Week, business, tourism and cultural awareness, including what to do if your guide is not Indigenous.

It’s telling that this section is Part One and is given so much weight in the book. In honesty, this material should be compulsory reading for anyone travelling around Australia (or consuming stories via their armchair). There are practical tips on when to use names of places and people and when not to, some rules around Language and what is appropriate to say in public and even a list of where to eat some of the best cuisine prepared by Indigenous chefs.

Part two of the book is a hands-on guide for people seeking Indigenous tourism experiences in each Australian state. From festival and music experiences through to national parks, galleries, museums and cultural centres, organised tours and overnight stays, this section reads like a bucket-list for inquisitive tourists who genuinely want to explore Australia’s Indigenous culture and understand why it holds such a significant place in global history.

‘Welcome to Country’ is a practical and beautiful guide to Indigenous Australia, but it should come with a warning: because you’ll have serious FOMO after digesting its contents, and given that some of Australia’s best Indigenous tourism offerings are in remote places you’ll need both a healthy sense of adventure and wallet to tick these places off your bucket-list. All the more reason to add it to your travel guide collection, I reckon.

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