Songlines & Nomads Palace Project


The Planet Spins played a commercialisation role in this project with funding from Southern Cross University and the Department of Resources, Energy and Tourism T-QUAL, Strategic Tourism Investment Grants for Indigenous Product Development to conduct a feasibility study into the integration of indigenous cultural practice/performance with current tourism research ideas. There are two specific products earmarked for development:

  • Songlines: Indigenous Musical Journeys (adapted from and involving artists of the Song Peoples Sessions) – an iconic cultural journey where domestic and international tourists could travel from Darwin to remote communities and festivals in the Northern Territory following the songs through a mix of contemporary and traditional Aboriginal music – Patrick McCloskey, Wantok Musik Foundation.
  • Nomads Palace – the worlds first travelling venue that exclusively features a programme of world-class Indigenous arts and culture – Sam Cook, Kiss My Blak Arts.

The project is a collaboration between partners, lead by Southern Cross University (SCU), with cutting edge research in the fields of:

  • A Network Approach to tourism enterprise and regional development using the Value Adding Web (and Music Hub) research – SCU, Ben Farr-Wharton, and Pr Kerry Brown

Songlines: Indigenous Musical Journeys

Preliminary research indicates that there is an opportunity to establish an iconic cultural journey where domestic and international tourists could travel from Darwin to remote communities and festivals in the Northern Territory following the songs through a mix of contemporary and traditional Aboriginal music. This concept has evolved out of the Song Peoples Sessions: a collaboration between traditional and contemporary Australian Indigenous musicians to support the protection of intangible cultural heritage and maintenance of Indigenous languages and traditional song cycles, creating new forms of musical cultural expression.

Nomads Palace

Nomads Palace is a concept in development that looks to create the worlds first travelling venue, featuring a programme of world-class Indigenous arts and culture. The venue would be hosted in residence by major arts festivals and events worldwide, presenting a programme of excellence curated exclusively to configurations, limited only by ones imagination.

Major festivals and events have an interest in Indigenous arts and to varying degrees, provide a programming window into the cultural expression of the worlds First Nations peoples. Quite often this opportunity is limited and often comes with repeated hard lessons learned in areas of cultural competency and bio-culturally diverse communications. It also comes with sustainability issues for the Indigenous arts sector who have no clearly defined pathway into this market and tend to individualise engagements that generally are one-off.

Nomads Palace is a proposition that will create a stable engagement with Indigenous arts and culture, in a way that is ethical, authentic and environmentally sustainable. It addresses the areas of cultural competency by its curatorial role that can be customised thematically to meet the themes or requirements of its host. The residency model and its ability to be fully supported by alternative energies enables a cost savings that cannot be provided by the current competitor. On innovation alone, it sets itself apart as an emergent way of providing sustainable solutions to the arts.

Nomads Palace is potentially a vehicle for supporting the development of an Indigenous Touring Circuit for musicians to provide pathways for cultural performers while at the same supporting the development of a stronger tourism sector by enhancing the quality of the cultural performances.

Both the Songlines IMJ product and Nomads Palace are designed to be used as a model for development of similar products or strategies around Australia.

This project is in effect the first stage towards development of a quality Indigenous tourism product/s or experiences that will support the industry’s capacity to reflect world’s best practice and products.

Feasibility Studies

This report includes an individual Feasibility Study from each of the two projects above. The idea of combining the two projects into an integrated business structure was explored. However, all parties agreed that the initiatives were independent and standalone projects. Each Feasibility Study has been prepared to suit its particular context. Each has its own recommendations.

The report also includes a list of research outputs published through the course of the project.

Various programming and scheduling issues have arisen since the original planning of the project which have caused significant delays to the project. Primarily, these issues have arisen because of the success of the fundamental elements of the tourism products that are under development. For example, in Borroloola, the community has been awarded funding to conduct deeper cultural mapping to inform the development of the Songlines IMJ initiative. At the same time, the Borroloola Songwomen have also been the recipient of a National Indigenous Music Award – which has increased their profile and necessitated a follow-up recording which is took place in August-September.

The success of the Songlines IMJ is directly related to the development of the cultural mapping project and the delivery of the 2014 West Island Sea Turtle Camp by the li-Anthawirriyarra Sea Rangers which took place between early September and mid October. Annually the dry season is full with project activity as this is the time of year to get tangible outcomes on the ground. Once this activity was all finished, in October, when the build up begins and the warmer weather starts to hit in, this is when community planning and approvals for the next year’s activities most often take place. October is when specific development of tourism product for the IMJ was able to occur with consultations and workshops by Rachel Hore and Shellie Morris. This then allowed for the necessary discussions amongst traditional owners and custodians for approvals and consent processes to occur in the ensuing months.

On the Nomads Palace side, Sam was invited to set up Nomads Palace as a part of several exciting initiatives in Brisbane. These activities have meant that the planned physical structure of Nomads Palace has been modified to occupy a position of primacy in the semi-permanent Containerval marketplace, in the prestigious Northshore area of Brisbane, adjacent to the Cruise Ship Terminal in Hamilton. Sam has been extremely busy establishing this presence throughout the last 8 months.


Indigenous tourism is widely viewed as an avenue which may increase the economic prosperity of Indigenous people, especially in remote communities. Successive Australian Governments have endeavoured to increase Aboriginal participation in tourism industries and promote Indigenous entrepreneurship. Increasing Indigenous participation rates in creative industries (i.e. tourism) is congruent with raising the living standards and enhancing the employment horizons of First Nation peoples in remote areas.

This funding from Southern Cross University and the (former) Department of Resources, Energy and Tourism T-QUAL, Strategic Tourism Investment Grants for Indigenous Product Development has been used to conduct a feasibility study into the Nomads Palace and Songlines Indigenous Musical Journeys initiatives.

These two initiatives utilise ‘placemaking’ and creativity principles to transform the conventional lens of cultural tourism into a flexible and authentic experience which is co-created between host and tourist. The project reflects a shift in strategic tourism modelling and is aligned with ‘creative tourism’ systems and synergistic relationships between creative activities, environments, people and place.

Final Report

Chapter 1 – Introduction and Research Outputs

Chapter 2 Literature Review Encountering Aboriginal Cultural Expressions- Peace, Proximity, Obligation, Responsibility

Chapter 3 Indigenous Musical Journeys_Singing on Country Camp_Report 2014

Chapter 4 Final Report and Feasibility Study Nomads 140523