Art to tell stories

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Bertie was awoken from his slumber in the humid heat by the sound of a tour guides voice. They were announcing that we had arrived at Kakadu National Park. Bertie had never seen anything like this before! In Bertie’s experience a park had a swing and a slide. This was an adventure playground for all living things. A vast space of trees, water and rocks to explore.

He was shocked when he overheard that the National Park extends over 19,000 square kilometres. As he continued to listen he learnt that it is world heritage listed and has around 2000 plant species, a quarter of all Australian freshwater fish species, and over one third of Australian bird species can be found in the park.

Bertie could not even begin to comprehend how big this is! Kakadu has been shaped by water. The entire catchment area of the South Alligator River lies within the parks boundaries. From December to May the waterfalls are at their most spectacular and the lowlands are flooded. A number of Aboriginal clans reside within the park and Kakadu is home to one of the largest concentrations of Aboriginal rock art.

As Bertie stared at the faint orange pictures no the rocks he thought it was interesting that people have been finding ways to record their stories and experiences for years. Suddenly Bertie’s travel blog didn’t seem as unique as he thought it was!

Bertie looked closely at the pictures drawn into the rocks of people and of the fish. He listened to the guide explaining that the pictures are describing a lesson in good behaviour and that behind the aboriginal stories their are morale code. The paintings remind the Mabuyu Traditional Owners of the National Park to tell a story against stealing.

This is the story that Bertie was listening to as told by Bill Neidjie:

“Mabuyu was dragging his catch on a string after a fishing expedition when a greedy person cut the string and stole his fish.

That night Mabuyu waited until the thieves had eaten his fish and were camped inside their cave near the East Alligator River. Then he blocked the cave with a huge rock.

Next morning they never came out because they pinched it they got punished”


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