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Gay’Wu - The Dilly Bag Women's Tour


Lirrwi Tourism

The women of Arnhem Land wish to open their hearts to visitors and share the knowledge that have acquired over many thousands of years. Knowledge of the bush, the ancestors, the sky and the universe.

Spend five incredible days living as part of a small family community, at a Yolŋu Homeland.

Insights into your experience

This is a 5 day, 4 night all inclusive experience for female guests only. A Lirrwi itinerary is flexible and your daily activities will depend on cultural and natural factors. 

The dilly bag is a powerful and important cultural symbol in Arnhem Land, where it was first created thousands of years ago. Woven with dyed pandanus leaves, the dilly bag has both a practical and a spiritual meaning. The practicality of holding foods and medicines gathered from the bush. The spiritual meaning of the dilly bag has given rise to the name of this tour, as it is also used to carry knowledge.

The women of Arnhem Land will share with you knowledge of the bush, the ancestors, the sky and the universe.

This tour is for women and girls only. In the modern western world this could be seen as sexism, but in the Yolŋu world there are clearly defined roles and activities undertaken exclusively by women and men. These roles have mutual respect , and many  activities , such as dancing and eating are undertaken together.

The Yolŋu often say the land is their mother. It nurtures, heals and guides their lives. This is why the female visitor experience and connection to Yolŋu people is often so profound. The Gay’wu women’s tour provide female visitors with the opportunity to come together with their Yolŋu sisterhood and learn about their culture, history and country. Equally it is an opportunity to reconnect with every aspect of their own lives – environment, spirituality and philosophy.

You will experience many extraordinary things on this tour, and time spent with the Yolŋu women is often described as “life-changing”. You will learn about and experience Yolŋu philosophy and kinship, weaving, painting, astrology, healing ceremony, crying ceremony (Nathi), cooking and bush medicine, dancing, gathering oysters or mud crabs and much more. Specific activities will vary according to the season and availability of materials.

During your tour, you will visit the remarkable art centre in Yirrkala - Buku-Larrnggay here you will see beautiful local works of art painted on bark, Larrakitj (ceremonial poles), woven baskets, jewellery and much more. Buku also has an extraordinary collection of historical material and is regarded as one of the best Aboriginal Art centres in Australia.


Aboriginal guide
All meals
First aid

You should bring

Walking shoes
Water bottle

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Things to know

Scheduled departures run from May to October each year. Click the Book Now button to check the calendar for departure dates. This is a 5 day, 4 night experience for a maximum of 14 women.

Cost includes:

  • All transport in the East Arnhem Region including airport transfers and ground touring
  • All meals whilst on tour unless otherwise indicated in the itinerary
  • Cultural awareness experiences with Yolngu family group including: Yolngu culture and knipship, basic Yolngu Matha language, avoidance relationships, Yolngu sign language, what Yolngu people use for medicine, weaving, painting and other activities
  • Basic lodge style or tent style accommodation with beds and fresh linen provided
  • One nights motel accommodation in Nhulunbuy at end of the program
  • Yolŋu driver-guides and highly capable 4X4 tour vehicles
  • Tour of world class Aboriginal Art Centre Buku Larrnggay Mulka in Yirrkala

You are responsible for:

  • Airfares from your home port to Nhulunbuy
  • Transit accommodation where necessary in either Darwin or Nhulunbuy depending on which air route taken.
  • Travel insurance (which we recommend).

Planning for your trip:

  • As Yolngu women dress conservatively, we ask that you do the same. Long skirts, long shorts or pants are suitable as are t-shirts. Please do not wear bikinis or mini-skirts. As you will spend most of your time outdoors, you should wear cool, comfortable clothing that will protect you from the sun and insects. Breathable natural fibres and/or synthetic wicking materials are highly recommended. Avoid synthetics that do not breathe well.
  • Pack Light - large bags and suitcases pose a problem to ground transport logistics when travelling to the Homelands. Please ensure your bag weighs no more than 10kg.
  • Homelands rely on solar power for the most part, and from time to time may experience power outages. Should you have medical equipment that requires power, such as sleep apnoea breathing apparatus, you should ensure that you have battery backups with you.

Meeting point

Your accommodation provider in Nhulunbuy or Gove Airport


North East Arnhem Land is located in the far north-eastern corner of the Northern Territory, around 500 kilometres from Darwin.

Nhulunbuy is the main township in North East Arnhem Land. 

Ready for an experience you won’t forget?

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