Saddle-up for tour of Sydney’s Aboriginal past

Saddle-up for tour of Sydney’s Aboriginal past

Get on your bike and explore Sydney’s rich Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander past in the City’s first NAIDOC Week bike tour.

The free one-hour tour will take bike riders through the Rocks, stopping at Circular Quay where Aboriginal men used to spear fish and first contact was made between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people.

Riders will explore artworks by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander artists and pass the site of the first National Aborigines Day, which evolved into NAIDOC week. They’ll also take a pit stop at the Australian Museum, home to thousands of rare artefacts representing past and present Aboriginal culture.

“This is a great chance for residents, visitors, teachers and students to visit the culturally and historically important sites of Aboriginal communities in Sydney,” Lord Mayor Clover Moore said.

William Stevens, a Murriwarri man from northern NSW, will present the Ride-about tour. He has delivered programs such as The Rocks Dreaming Aboriginal Heritage Tour and Bangabaoui cultural cruise, while working at Sydney Harbour Foreshore Authority, that tell stories of the local Aboriginal people.   

“A lot of people don’t realise that Aboriginal culture is everywhere. It’s on your way to work, taking your kids to the park or even going through the city,” Mr Stevens said.

“Just by going for a ride on your bike you can learn heaps about our culture.”

The City of Sydney and Bonza Bike Tours will provide bikes, helmets and travel bags for two separate tours with limited spaces on Monday 8 July. To register, visit

Tours begin at 10am and midday from The Rocks, finishing at the NAIDOC in the City event in Hyde Park.

This year’s NAIDOC Week theme is We Value the Vision: Yirrkala Bark Petitions 1963 and marks the 50th anniversary of this important turning point in traditional rights and ownership.

The two bark petitions were sent by the Yolngu people, of Yirrkala in northeast Arnhem Land, to the Australian House of Representatives in August 1963. The petitions protested the Commonwealth’s granting of mining rights on land excised from Arnhem Land, and asked the Government to recognise the land as belonging to the Yolngu people.

The petitions were the first traditional documents recognised by Australian law. This set into motion a long process of legislative and constitutional reforms for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, as well as the nation’s acknowledgment of their land rights.

NAIDOC Week, from 7-14 July, celebrates the National Aborigines and Islanders Day Observance Committee, which grew from the first political groups of the 1920s. For more information visit

Other NAIDOC Week events hosted by the City:

NAIDOC in the City
11am-3pm, Monday 8 July
Hyde Park North
City of Sydney’s signature annual event celebrating Australia’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander heritage.
Free event. Full program at

Redfern flag raising ceremony
9.30am, Monday 8 July
Redfern Community Centre, 29-53 Hugo Street, Redfern
The City of Sydney’s annual flag raising ceremony at Redfern Community Centre will include refreshments and transport to the NAIDOC in the City, Hyde Park event.

Aboriginal Photography Exhibition
1 July-31 August
Newtown Library, 8-10 Brown Street, Newtown
In conjunction with Amnesty International and Demand Dignity NSW, Tali Gallery in Rozelle has curated a travelling exhibition of photos showing cultural practices and art creation in remote communities.

Torres Strait Islander artist talk
6-8pm, Tuesday 9 July
Surry Hills Neighbourhood Centre, Level 1, 405 Crown Street, Surry Hills
Artist Glen Mackie discusses how his Torres Strait Islander heritage inspires his intricate linoprint artworks, on show in the library from 1 July-31 August. Patricia Adjei, the Copyright Agency’s Indigenous legal officer, will also discuss copyright for Indigenous artists, resale royalties, and cultural intellectual property rights.
Free; bookings essential on 02 9265 7576

Indigenous youth linoprint workshop
2-4pm, Wednesday 10 July
Surry Hills Neighbourhood Centre, Level 1, 405 Crown Street, Surry Hills
Zenadh-Kes artist Glen Mackie, from the Torres Strait, hosts a printmaking workshop for young people.
Free; bookings essential on 02 9265 7576

Aboriginal watercolours talk
6-7pm, Wednesday 10 July
Customs House Library, Level 2, 31 Alfred Street, Circular Quay
Di Stevens, curator at Tali Gallery, talks about Ngurratjuta Arts Centre in Alice Springs, which supports over 300 Aboriginal artists, with a special focus on the Hermannsburg school artists that continue the watercolour landscapes tradition. There are about 15 artists that paint in the watercolour style, being descendants of Albert Namatjira. Arrive early to see an exhibition of their works on level one, on show from 1 July-31 August.
Free; bookings essential on 02 9265 7576


For media inquiries, contact City of Sydney Senior Media Adviser Leanne Bridges, phone 0434 320 768 or email

For interviews with Lord Mayor Clover Moore, contact Jonathon Larkin on 0477 310 149 or email