After a A$12 million revamp, due to be completed in early 2015, Tjapukai (pronounced Jab-oo-guy) offers new indigenous cultural experiences in a new all-weather venue. Cutting-edge theatre technology and an open plan glass design to showcase the park's rainforest surrounds are among the highlights of the redevelopment. Two state-of-the-art theatre spaces, History and Hero's walk, and a new restaurant and outdoor bar will complement the existing interactive cultural village, where you can try fire-making, didgeridoo playing, and boomerang and spear throwing and learn about bush foods and medicines and hunting techniques. In addition to Aboriginal culture, Torres Strait Islander dance is also now part of the Tjapukai experience. Allow 2 to 3 hours to see everything (although you could spend longer here). Start in the Creation Theatre, where performers use the latest in illusion, theatrics, and technology to tell the story of the creation of the world according to the spiritual beliefs of Tjapukai people. Move on through the Magic Space museum and gallery section of the complex to the History Theatre, where a 20-minute film relates the history of the Tjapukai people since the arrival of white settlers 120 years ago.
Among the new offerings is Art of My People, a performance that explains the varying styles of Australian Indigenous art, including the role of totems, body painting traditions and differing types of artistic expression used to identify tribes, languages, dialects and geographical landscapes. A gallery stocks the work of Aboriginal artists and crafts workers.
Tjapukai by Night tours include interactive time in the Magic Space museum, a Creation Show performance, and an outdoor Serpent Circle—a show featuring tap sticks for each guest to use, a join-in corroboree (an Aboriginal nighttime dance), and a ceremony involving fire and water. A buffet dinner and dance show follow, where you get the chance to meet the dancers.
Captain Cook Hwy. (beside the Skyrail terminal), Smithfield. [tel] 07/4042 9999. www.tjapukai.com.au. Admission A$40 adults, A$25 children 5–14, A$105 families. Daily 9am–5pm. Tjapukai by Night tours run daily from 7:30pm-9:30pm and cost A$134 adults, A$72 children or A$340 family of four, including transfers to and from Cairns. Closed Christmas Day. Free parking. Bus: 123. Round-trip shuttle transfers to and through the park from Cairns hotels A$25 adults, A$13 children and A$63 families.