March 05, 2009

Aboriginal tourism experiences designed for family bonding

Les Gibson with the start of Munbah Beach in the background
Aboriginal adventure provider for fathers and sons, Les Gibson of Munbah Beach Getaway, 50 km north of Cooktown is planning to extend his program for mothers and daughters with the assistance of his own daughter, Kathi Gibson-Steffensen.

Les broke into the tourism industry more than 16 years ago and over the years his imaginative adventure programs attracted the attention of travel writers and TV lifestyle programs such as The Great Outdoors.

His activities are centred on a picture-perfect location right on an expansive beach as Les explains: “It all started when I built the shack as a weekender to do fishing etc down on the shore about 30 kilometres east of Hope Vale.

“It’s a beautiful spot right on the beach. It’s called Munbah, and in our language, that means muddy creek. But the creek is not muddy, it is beautiful water but that was the way the old people thought because of the colour. But the stream drains water from a freshwater swamp and the colour comes from tannin, a natural substance in the water from the swamp.

“I didn’t find it hard to communicate with people, even those from overseas who came to stay. I like talking to people and sharing some of our bush skills and culture with them. I believe it can help them in their own life, even back in the busy cities.

“With the father/son program, we concentrate on doing things together. Firstly, on how to make a spear or woomera then having the dads and boys making one together.

“We also give them insights into bush medicine so that when they go home and hopefully follow up with camping trips together they can put this information into practice.”

Les says one of the most vital practices and know-how in bush medicine is how to treat stings from a box jellyfish.

Bush medicine

“If anyone gets stung by a box jellyfish or stone fish, we use hot ashes mixed with salt water. The sting is gone in 20 minutes and there is no pain. A lot of these things are just survival techniques. It is the core of the whole indigenous culture and traditions which have been passed on to generations.

Kathi will guide Les with the extension of his program that will be interest-specific for mothers and daughters while his other daughter, Tina, as an established artist, may assist with craft development such as coloured sand painting.

One of the favourite spots at Munbah is out the front of the shack under the awning, sitting in one of the old lounge chairs and looking at the change of colour of the ocean as the tide ebbs and flows, while in the late afternoon the sun plays with different hues as it casts its receding rays over distant Cape Bedford.

Les likes to take his guests hiking up into sparkling, white, sand dunes that give good views right out over the ocean. At another area along the beach, the sand hills are the colours of the rainbow. “This is a special place and I like to share it with others,” Les says proudly.

For further information, phone Les Gibson on 0488963806. A website is being developed.

Photo caption: Les Gibson with the start of Munbah Beach in the background

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