It's intriguing seeing the responses to Herbert and comparing them with the
responses, over the years, to the efforts of myself and my semi-traditional
relatives to set up a little tourism project in Arnhem Land. In some ways
Herbert and I had similar aims. The negative responses went even further.
I'll be talking about some aspects of this, the Baby Dreaming Project, at
the Wildlife Tourism Australia workshop to be held in mid-May in Currumbin,
Qld. The title of my presentation is "The Baby Dreaming Project: the Snake
as Sister/ Interpretation the Indigenous way".
And Peter Shute, some will view the term "using wildlife" as "unfortunate".
Let me discuss this in the context of my presentation.
Snakes are an attraction for visitors and so you could say that guides and
wildlife parks etc, 'use' them. As do presenters in wildlife television.
This 'use' is a world away from the way my relatives and I see snakes.
There are dangerous snakes at Baby Dreaming. But my daughter's grandmother
named Amber after one such snake, a python, to protect her from
unscrupulous men (Kunwinjku men are particularly scared of this creature).
A large venomous species is known as the Bringer of Order in the Dreamtime.
My children have Python Dreaming, and Rowan, my son, seeing a dying python
cried, seeing her not just as the unfortunate victim of a speeding vehicle,
but as his sister, dying.
By the same token I can hunt snakes with my family because I do not have
snake dreaming. However, I won't harm or even eat Estuarine Crocodile
because it is my dreaming. The NT Administrator, Sally Thomas, can attest
to how far this goes. Once while we were featuring in a documentary on
crocodiles, we needed to paddle a canoe out into the mangroves. Sally, on
seeing a tomahawk lying on the floor, asked me why it was there. I told her
that if we were attacked by a crocodile she needed to hit it on the head
with the axe. Reasonably she asked why I couldn't do the deed. I replied
that if we were attacked the most I could do was ask the crocodile
'politely' to leave us alone.
This is a world away from the one dimensional view of wildlife usually
presented for public consumption, and from the attitude I've encountered
while working on documentaries for the BBC, CNN and so forth where the
occasional presenter likes to seize wild reptiles because he "loves" them.
I'm presenting this alternative view at the workshop because I think it's
important. As a guide and researcher I'm aware that many birders watch
birds because they seek a connection with wildlife. And many of my clients,
including that American writer, Jonathon Franzen, who came to Arnhem Land
with me, have more in common with my relatives' attitude than the rest of
wildlife consumers, in that they lack that 'top-down' attitude that the term
So I am 'using' the workshop in yet another attempt to change attitude. But
as I'm sure Herbert and other presenters will attest, it's one hell of an
Denise Lawungkurr Goodfellow B.A. Grad.Dip.Arts
1/7 Songlark Street, Bakewell NT 0832, AUSTRALIA
Ph. 61 08 89 328306
Mobile: 04 386 50 835
Birdwatching and Indigenous tourism consultant
PhD Candidate (Southern Cross University, NSW)
Interpreter/transcriber, Lonely Planet Guide to Aboriginal Australia
Vice-chair, Wildlife Tourism Australia; ecotourism adviser, Mitchell Creek
Nominated by Earthfoot (2004) for Conde Nast's Traveler International Award
"it gave me huge insight" into the lives of Aboriginal Australians
Jonathon Franzen on "Quiet Snake Dreaming".
For copies of Birds of Australia¹s Top End or Quiet Snake Dreaming, visit
on 27/4/12 8:33 PM, Bob Gosford at wrote:
> I second that.
> I am looking forward to catching up with Herbert and the many hundreds of
> other scientists, ethnoornithologists, birders, bird guiders and much more
> in Uganda, Tanzania, Kenya and the rest of that great continent at the
> Pan-African Ornithological Congress in Arusha, Tanzania in October this
> See more for yourself here: http://www.paoc-africa.org/
> On 27 April 2012 20:28, Tom Tarrant <> wrote:
>> Just to set the record straight, Herbert is a genuine bird-guide, he is the
>> managing-director of the respected "BirdUganda" and not a 'spammer' by
>> nature. I believe his appeal is a genuine request to advance the lives of
>> female Ugandans who are very under-privileged. I'm sure there are a few B-A
>> readers who have used his services and can also vouch for his veracity.
>> On Fri, Apr 27, 2012 at 7:42 PM, Peter Shute <> wrote:
>>> I was going to reject this a spam, but it sort of looks genuine. For some
>>> reason a Reply All to it doesn't include the list, don't know what's
>>> on there.
>>> Actually, looking at the website, I think it's birding spam, should have
>>> read it properly.
>>> Peter Shute
>>> Sent using BlackBerry