One Christmas Maree Tetlow, managing director of Tourism NT, asked me to
organise such a soiree for their staff and a few others. Her secretary and I
arrived at the ponds before the others and began to set out the trestle tables
and lay out the food. Then the staff member went to unlock the gates for the
In the meantime I spotted a crocodile swimming back and forth in the pond
nearest the tables and coming closer and closer. I’d set up my telescope so
that the guests could view the birds. But by the time I’d walked to the scope
and unscrewed it Ginga was only a few metres away.
As I prepared to defend the food with my tripod, the guests arrived. The
crocodile disappeared immediately. Heavens knows that they thought I was doing
though I tried to explain.
One other memory has stuck with me from that night - an ecotourism
award-winning tour operator accompanying the party couldn’t identify a
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.
On 21 Mar 2016, at 8:27 am, Tony Russell <> wrote:
> I remember one of those soirees when Enid and I turned up one evening.
> Thought it was quite bizarre for your group to be drinking champagne at the
> cross point on the levee banks, and the nose of the wine must have been
> rather unusual. Can't remember whether we were looking for a Little-ringed
> Plover or a Little Grebe.
> Best regards, Tony.
> -----Original Message-----
> From: Birding-Aus On Behalf Of
> Denise Goodfellow
> Sent: Sunday, March 20, 2016 12:12 PM
> To: birding-aus
> Subject: [Birding-Aus] Darwin mangroves
> 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 use.
> 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,
> 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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