Darwin mangroves

To: birding-aus <>
Subject: Darwin mangroves
From: Denise Goodfellow <>
Date: Sun, 20 Mar 2016 01:42:14 +0000
Top End mangroves are known for their diversity of birds.  However the most 
accessible ones, those around Darwin, are fast disappearing.

I first got to know Top End mangals back in the70s.  A friend and I would go 
canoeing, fishing and birding through them.  Then as a member of the Aboriginal 
Women’s Resource Centre I went hunting and gathering there with my fellow 
committe members and their families.  I learned from Bininj women how to live 
with mangrove habitat, how to look for birds and food, how to stay safe.

The concerns of Larrakia women were one reason why I stood for  Darwin City 
Council in 1981 on the platform of conserving mangroves.
In the 90s there were again major plans to ‘develop’ great areas of mangroves.  
Those at Stuart Park were one of the best spots for Chestnut Rail - I’d been 
watching the bird there since1983, after Council put in drainage channels, thus 
increasing access. I began taking international  birding groups there in 1984.  
People loved going into the mangroves.  For many it was as if the birds were 
just an excuse to enjoy the solitude, the smells, the ambience.

Luckily Mike Reed, a fellow birder, was a Minister in the NT Government at the 
time, and once he learned of the importance of this area he changed the zoning. 
 He also declared Charles Darwin NP, again in a move to conserve habitat for 
Chestnut Rail and other mangrove birds.

In 1996 I produced a book, Birds of Darwin Mangroves and Mudflats, in an effort 
to spread the word.  However an even better opportunity arose when the Power & 
Water Authority asked me to organise a walk at Leanyer Sewage Ponds for 
National Water Weed.  It turned out to be quite an afternoon.  I asked people 
to wear evening dress and P &W organised drinks and nibbles.   Approached by 
national television I then organised another two soirees.  Model Kate Fisher 
presented on, turning up in a stretch limousine wearing a slinky black dress 
slit to the hip, and gumboots.  Several dozen people turned up in their finery, 
and we sipped champagne supplied by P &W to the music of a string quartet.

Mangroves in the area between Stuart Park and Charles Darwin Park are now under 
threat again, and a meeting was called on Saturday at which myself and several 
others spoke.  I also carried the words of Larrakia women.  They no longer use 
that area, but they understand the threat only too well to areas that they do 

Denise Lawungkurr  Goodfellow
PO Box 71
Darwin River, NT, Australia 0841
043 8650 835

PhD candidate, Southern Cross University, Lismore, NSW.

Founding Member: Ecotourism Australia
Nominated by Earthfoot for Condé Nast’s International  Ecotourism Award, 2004.

With every introduction of a plant or animal that goes feral this continent 
becomes a little less unique, a little less Australian.

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