Aboriginal communities in New South Wales currently are engaged in negotiating with government agencies about cultural activities focussing on access to and harvest of wild resources on and off protected areas. These are ‘co-management’ situations in the broadest sense, where both Indigenous peoples and protected area management agencies actively are engaged in the same landscape. Aboriginal peoples are using adaptive approaches to continue millennia of cultural traditions in social and physical environments that are significantly changed and changing. Some protected area managers are seeking to understand and adapt agency responses, so as to engage and support Aboriginal interests. These contrasting perspectives on using, managing and protecting country are explored through two case studies: the harvesting of bush lemons and honey by the Bundjalung people of northeastern New South Wales; and the traditional beach fishery of the Yuin people within a marine park in southeastern New South Wales. These case studies, involving collaboration between Indigenous and non- Indigenous researchers and Indigenous communities, reveal the need to respect continuities of ancient cultures, practices and knowledges, while also recognising that adaptation to environmental and social change is a key element of cultural continuity. Adaptation is also a key ingredient of successful co-management, which is best regarded as a process rather than an outcome.