Cultural Exchange: The Tjapuki Aboriginal Culture Park

The Tjapuki Aboriginal Culture Park was very cool.  As you’ve read about, we learned about a variety of different dances, weapons, and traditions that Aboriginal peoples have held for a millennia.  I was most surprised, however, of the number of Aboriginal tribes there are across all of Australia.  I shouldn’t be surprised because it’s incredibly ignorant to assume that all of Aboriginal culture was the same, but to be quite honest I was.  The culture we were exposed to was from the same region that Cairns was in (aka the Tjapuki tribe).  I’m taking a class on Native American history this spring, and I am sure I will be able to draw parallels between these two primitive macro-societies.

As impressive the culture park was, I was blown away by the neighboring rainforest.  We took the skyrail (like a gondola) through the rainforest to a small town essentially in the middle of nowhere in the jungle.  The vastness and epicness of the jungle was mesmerizing.  It went on and on as far as the eye could see, wrapping around rolling hills into the distance.  The greens were dark, dense.  When I first arrived in Cairs I hoped that I would have an opportunity to hike in the jungle, but after seeing it from above I realized that I was neither equipped nor physically fit enough to make it even a half a mile in the undergrowth.  I would have probably gotten bitten by a snake or a spider or eaten alive by giant ants or some horrible jungle creature.  It reminded me of everything I had read about the Vietnam War and how the jungle is never your friend, it is a more lethal threat than the actual human enemy ever was.  Seeing it 1,000ft above the top of the canopy was enough for me.  I hope I never have to spend time in the jungle, or at least be equipped enough to deal with it’s dangers to a satisfactory degree.  It’s absolutely amazing that the Aboriginals of that region were able to successfully inhabit and thrive in such an inhospitable region.

-Andrew Riley

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