Australia is more than white surfer culture.
But you wouldn’t know that by doing a simple search online or by browsing a hashtag on social media because a majority of the advertisements depict just that.
But Steven Bishop is trying to change that through his travel agency. He’s the founder and one of the curators for Urban Heartbeat. It’s a Black-owned travel agency highlighting things you typically don’t see in Australia: Black-owned businesses, Black culture, and Black history.
“There are so many misconceptions here, and one of them is that there’s no Black culture here,” he tells Travel Noire. “Australia has sold itself on a blonde hair and blue-eyed surfer culture. What gets missed is the level of multi-culturalism in places like Melbourne and Sydney. These are the two most ethnically diverse cities in the world.”
Urban Heartbeat came to be as a result of Bishop’s love of traveling through big cities, as they’re a melting pot of culture, food, and tons of things to see.
He combined urban with heartbeat because where there is a heartbeat, there is life. It’s also an indicator of what we feel.
“When you travel, you feel the energy and you feel the senses. This name came to me and it resonated with me. It reveals who I am and the kind of trips that I want to take with people,” says Bishop.
What Bishop offers that no one else offers in Australia is that his trips are all about exploration by digging deep into the local scene and getting to know people. There’s a special emphasis on Black Australians, Aboriginals, and other minorities.
“We go to Black-owned businesses through Australia and then when we get to the Outback, we work with the Aboriginal guides who tell us the stories, learn more about the land and history that goes back thousands of years,” Bishop says. “It’s one of the most exciting experiences of being able to bring people along and let them see it for themselves to experience the oldest cultures in the world.”
Ten years from now, Bishop hopes Urban Heartbeat is the go-to tour company that people think of when it comes to exploring the diverse beauty of Australia.
“I see Urban Heartbeat setting the bar for cross-cultural experiences and getting people to understand different cultures through mutual respect and understanding,” he adds.
For more information or to book a tour with Bishop, click here.
Related: What It Means To Be Black In Sydney, Australia