Things to do in Singleton Hunter Valley to appreciate Aboriginal culture this NAIDOC Week

NAIDOC Week 2021 is held from Sunday 4 July to Sunday 11 July with the theme – Heal Country! – encouraging us to “to continue to seek greater protections for our lands, our waters, our sacred sites and our cultural heritage from exploitation, desecration, and destruction”. 

The Wanaruah, Wonnarua people are the traditional land owners of the Singleton area and their lands extend throughout the Hunter Valley. The Wanaruah, Wonnarua have occupied the Upper Hunter for at least 30,000 years, with traditional knowledge holding that occupation extends back to the early stages of the Dreaming.

We encourage you to immerse yourself in Singleton’s Aboriginal heritage and culture and to celebrate NAIDOC Week 2021, here are our top recommendations that encapsulates the rich history, diverse cultures and achievements of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

 Experience indigenous flavours at Wattaka Cafe

Located in Singleton Centre (157-159 John Street), Wattaka Cafe is a patisserie-style dining experience that creates the perfect pairing of rich, aromatic coffee with the delicacy of pastries enriched with indigenous flavour combinations. Wattaka Cafe proudly states “Indigenous flavour is not just about paying respect to our heritage. Indigenous food is about sustainability. It has, after all, sustained us for tens of thousands of years. Australia has one of the most diverse collection of flora and fauna on the planet. Using Indigenous food helps to sustain our biodiversity (our greatest asset).” The goals and objectives of Wattaka Cafe fits the theme of NAIDOC Week 2021 perfectly, and with their mission to create a sense of community for all, we could all benefit from stopping in and picking up a coffee or delicious treat. 

Open Monday to Friday 8am-4pm, pay a visit to Wattaka Cafe to enjoy a Pulled Lemon Myrtle Beef Brisket Burger or Scones with Davidson Plum Jam (and a coffee of course!).


Wattaka Cafe

Arts and Culture – WUPA@Wanaruah 

WUPA@Wanaruah Art Exhibition was originally an art trail exhibition held annually that showcased artworks, artefacts and merchandise from authentic indigenous artists located throughout the Hunter Valley. Now predominately online, WUPA@Wanaruah allows the community to continue to support Ungooroo and the local indigenous community throughout the trying times of the pandemic. WUPA@Wanruah was developed by the Ungooroo Aboriginal Corporation (located in Singleton) eleven years ago and has continued to grow and develop each year to provide the community with the opportunity to purchase not just an artwork, but a piece of living history. 

In addition to operating online, there are select artworks and artefacts on exhibition at Hunter Valley Resort, Draytons Family Wines, Mercure Resort & Crowne Plaza Hunter Valley.


Country Artist: Denise Hedges Wupa@Wanaruah

Above: "Country" by Denise Hedges.

Walk through History at Baiame Caves & Yengo National Park

Baiame Cave is located in the foothills of the eastern side of the Great Dividing Range in Milbrodale, on privately owned farmland, a few kilometres north of the boundary of Yengo National Park. 

Baiame Cave is a rare indigenous rock art painting site that was declared of state significance by the Office of Environment & Heritage. The site holds great cultural significance with the Wanaruah, Wonnarua people, the traditional custodians of the artwork prior to and post colonisation. The painting represents the traditional heritage of the Aboriginal people of the Hunter Valley and the main figure depicted on the cave is believed to be Baiame, who is understood by some Aboriginal people across NSW to be the creator, the ‘Father of All’, the most important ancestor and law-maker. A dreamtime story from the Wanaruah, Wonnarua explains how the hills and rivers in the Hunter Valley were created by a spirit called Baiame. Before this, there was nothing- everything was sleeping. Then the spirit awoke and created everything - the mountains, plains, rivers and living things. 

Baiame Cave is located on privately owned farmland and we strongly encourage you contact Singleton Visitor Information Centre for more information prior to visiting the cave. In saying this, Baiame Cave does not need to be visited to be appreciated by the community. There are pictures, articles, and audio recordings of Baiame Cave and visitors’ experiences online that perfectly depict the history and significance of the cave. 

South of Baiame Cave lies Yengo National Park and the Finchley cultural walk. Featuring Aboriginal rock art and an insight into Aboriginal History, the Finchley cultural walk is located just past Upper Yango Creek Road. The walk itself is a short 1km return walk that can be enjoyed by everyone. The walk features a number of informative signs along the way that gives people a deeper understanding of the Finchley Aboriginal engravings. Be sure to check the National Parks website prior to setting off in case of any alerts or closures.


 Visit Lake St Clair

You might know Lake St Clair as a boating, camping and fishing playground, but did you know it’s also a protected Aboriginal place?

The St Clair property is behind Lake St Clair and is 33 acres. The St Clair Mission was established in the Hunter region in 1893.The Wanaruah, Wonnarua made up a significant proportion of the population at St Clair. St Clair Mission operated until 1918 when it was taken over by the Aborigines Protection Board and renamed Mount Olive Reserve. The history of this property is important to the Wanaruah, Wonnarua people, who have little record of their history prior to the white settlement. St Clair has been formally recognised as a protected Aboriginal place by the Government.


Lake St Clair Drone