This article reports the findings of a qualitative study into the experiences of a sample of backpackers who engaged with Aboriginal culture as part of their independent travels in Australia. Although the desire to learn about Aboriginal culture was shared by the backpackers in this study, the predominant activities undertaken as conduits to cultural learning were largely devoid of direct encounters with Aboriginal people. There was a strong awareness that cultural learning from an 'insiders' perspective could only develop over time spent living with Aboriginal communities. Yet, such immersive engagements were frequently impeded and the backpackers tended to partake in activities that focused on 'learning culture', thereby reinforcing their 'outsider' status. These findings help explain the rise in a number of alternative tourism experiences, such as volunteer tourism, that can provide avenues to cultural learning, and by extension lifelong learning, through direct engagement with indigenous cultures.
Lifelong Learning in Europe Vol. 15, Issue 3, p. 150-158