4 Awesome Indigenous-Owned Galleries & Workshops To Visit In The Sunny State

Indigenous-Owned Gallery

While Queensland might be well-known for its enviable weather, its enviable beaches and straight-up just making every other state envious, there is far more to see and do when you look beyond the surf.

Scattered across the Sunny State are Indigenous-run art galleries, each offering a unique perspective and telling their own tales.

There are dozens upon dozens of galleries to check out, so we’ve picked out some favourites, with a few gallery owners giving us some insight into the artwork and artists they display.

Jarramali Rock Art Tours, Cape York

“Visitors should know that this is my family’s country and we have had a continuous connection to this bubu-land for thousands of years until the supposed Aboriginal protection act that forcibly removed my people away from their home, their country, from everything they knew,” Johnny Murison asserts. “But we’re back! Showing people incredible rock art, our history, our story from our perspective.”
During the Jarramali Rock Art Tours, Traditional Owners guide visitors through hidden rock art, sample bush medicine and hear ancient stories of the land.
“You can only see this art site by booking through Jarramali Rock Art Tours, and your local traditional Kuku Yalanji guide will provide expert interpretation on the rock art. Come with an open heart and a willingness to learn and a sense of adventure and you will have a ball,” Johnny says.

Janbal Gallery, Mossman

Offering shared art and culture workshops, Janbal Gallery teaches visitors about the significance of Aboriginal artwork and the rich culture behind the pieces, as well as learning about Aboriginal ochre paints, Indigenous art history and painting techniques.

The owner of Janbal Gallery, Brian ‘Binna’ Swindley, says the gallery is approaching 14 years since opening its doors.

“When visitors come to the gallery, the first thing I say to them is ‘Yalada’, meaning ‘Welcome’ in my language,” Binna says. “I give them time to look around and then I ask them if they need some help or if they need a little bit more time – if they like an artist or owner of a painting, I tell them what the painting is all about.”

When you’re there, keep an eye out for artwork by Albert Namatjira, as Binna explains “he’s the first Indigenous artist in his country and he’s also famous for his watercolour landscapes.”

Janbal Gallery, just over an hour’s drive north of Cairns, is open 10am-5pm, Monday to Friday, however Binna says an online shop will also be opening up soon.

Birrunga Gallery And Dining, Meanjin (Brisbane)

Owned by Birrunga Wiradyuri, Birrunga Gallery and Dining is the only Indigenous-owned and operated cultural space in Meanjin (Brisbane) city.

While Birrunga Gallery showcases a slew of artwork, its space is also dedicated to hosting cultural awareness classes, performances and offers gallery tours as well as a cafe and wine bar.

If you’re planning your trip, ensure you’re there for the second Saturday of every month (extend your trip if you have to), as the Birrunga Gallery hosts a market dedicated to showcasing local First Nations creative enterprises.

Culture Connect, departing from Cairns, Port Douglas and Cooktown

While not one specific gallery per se, Culture Connect is an awesome route to go down if you want to immerse yourself in as much culture as possible in a half-day, full-day or two-day trip.

Traditional Owners spearheading Culture Connect offer countless tours and experiences, including 4WD Aboriginal rock art, coastal survival and scenic flights over the Daintree Rainforest.

You can find all of the packages and tours on offer here, and make sure to book in at least one workshop while you’re making your way around Queensland.