The main photographs and text are by Wayne Miles,
an outstanding photographer from Darwin.
March - End of the Rainmaking Season
At this time of year the wetlands and waterways of the tropical woodlands
and forests remain flooded. Swarms of drasgonflies and aquatic insects
skim the glassy surfaces, the air is heavily scented by curing native
grasses and blossoming plants. These all signal that the transition
to the start of the early dry season is beginning.
All animals in the country of the Gagadju clans have a story,
but none more so than "ginga" the saltwater crocodile.
His behaviour and dangers are told in Dreaming stories, in paintings
on bark and in songs. During March, crocodiles fiercely guard
hidden nests where their clutches of eggs now incubate. If disturbed,
they react violently - and all Aboriginal people treat them
with great care and respect for the danger they pose.
April - Harvest Time in the Kakadu Wetlands
On the floodplains of the South Alligator River in Kakadu
National Park the water levels are dropping fast. Magpie Geese in
their hundreds of thousands are busy leaving their nests and feeding
on wild rice and other foods. Everywhere you look green growth is
Wetlands of the South Alligator River
In the shallows, amongst spiked rushes and buoyant reeds,
stately Brolgas march backwards and forwards, necks bent back, bills
pointed skyward, trumpeting a call that announces the beginning of
their breeding season. To the Aboriginal peoples of the region, this
also says that the Magpie Geese will soon be ready for harvest.
For the Aboriginal people of this region, "Bininj"
as they call themselves, this is traditionally a time for celebration,
when the great "cheeky" and "long" yams are harvested.
Yams are similar in taste to sweet potatoes. In the past, the eggs
of Magpie Geese were a staple part of the Aboriginal diet, and they
were a prized food source collected in their thousands. Such harvesting
and bush management are no longer necessary for survival but are still
practised today as part of the living culture of the people.
Text copyright Wayne Miles 1999