'That means the fish are fat': Sharing experiences of animals through Indigenous-owned tourism

Sarah Wright*, Sandie Suchet-Pearson, Kate Lloyd, Lak Lak Burarrwanga, Djawa Burarrwanga

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

31 Citations (Scopus)


This article considers the ways members of Indigenous-owned and operated Bawaka Cultural Experiences (BCE) from northern Australia share diverse ways of knowing the world with tourists through a focus on the sapient beings categorised as animals in western cultures. The article is co-authored by two owners of BCE and three human geographers. Lak Lak and Djawa of BCE are situated as key agents who sculpt the experience for visitors and tourists and in the article discuss the various ways they actively challenge tourists through a range of experiences on country. Sarah, Sandie and Kate are multiply positioned as academics, collaborators and visitors. The article discusses the ways members of the Burarrwanga family invite tourists to learn about the interrelated importance of animals through a range of sensory experiences. The relationships shared by Lak Lak and Djawa with tourists are indicative of an ontology of connection that underpins Yolngu and many Indigenous ways of knowing the world. As tourists are invited into these worlds, they are given the opportunity to challenge their own relationships with animals and rethink an interlinked social-cultural-economic and ontological approach to self-determination in a postcolonial nation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)505-527
Number of pages23
JournalCurrent Issues in Tourism
Issue number5-6
Publication statusPublished - 2009


  • Animal geographies
  • Indigenous epistemologies
  • Indigenous tourism
  • Northern Australia
  • Ontology of connection
  • Yolngu


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