Proud Bininj man who’s mother’s country is Murumburr in central Kakadu where Cooinda is located and Kakadu Kitchen’s Founder, Ben Tyler, tempted us all with a modern take on bush tucker when he first launched Kakadu Kitchen at Taste of Kakadu Festival in 2017. Serving up a selection of tasty treats foraged from the 20,000 square kilometer tropical food garden that is Kakadu.
With a love for the bush, connection and education, Ben continues to share his knowledge and passion for country and has in 2021 released a children’s book ‘Walking In Gagudju Country’. Co-Authored with long-time friend and teacher, Diane Lucas, the book takes you for a walk through country, exploring the intricacies of the land, highlighting the connection between plants, animals, birds, insects, winds and seasons. And a passing on of stories that were shared with them by the elders, giving readers a much deeper understanding and appreciation for the land.
The book comes to life with magnificent illustrations from artist, Emma Long, who has so perfectly captured the essence of the story.
“When we go walking, we never know how long we will be, what we will hear and what we will see.
We pack our bags with food and water, a billy and some matches to light a fire.
We head off into the shady monsoon forest on the edge of the billabong.”
This rich and fascinating book brings together First Nations Australian knowledge and history with Western science. It is a collaborative way to vicariously experience one of the unique habitats of Kakadu National Park.
Walking in Gagudju Country concentrates on the monsoon forest areas of the Top End of northern Australia. The book is written to encourage the reader, wherever you live, to consider the habitat and seasonal aspects of your own geographical location, hoping to inspire and encourage research into First Nations culture of your region; and at the same time also expand your knowledge and understanding of the environment.
The book is recommended for ages 5 - 10 years and it also comes with Teachers Notes enabling teachers to easily adapt and apply it for themes used in their curriculum. For children, teachers, librarians and students, Walking in Gagudju Country offers a model of discovery of place and culture. It also includes Kundjeyhmi language names, and lush and enchanting illustrations.
Soak up the spirit of Kakadu, Walking in Gagudju Country, as you’re taken on a journey of discovery where your senses will come alive... with the sweet smell of the bush, the diverse sounds of the birds and the sheer magnificence of the clouds slowly moving over the open skies of Kakadu.
About The Authors
BEN TYLER is a Bininj entrepreneur and founder of bush food brand Kakadu Kitchen. He currently lives in Darwin on Larrakia country, studying business at Charles Darwin University. On his breaks he returns home to Kakadu to visit his mum and family at their remote family outstation at Patonga Homestead, located beside the Jim Jim Creek in Kakadu National Park. Ben loves gardening with his mum Jessie Aldeson, and both were very happy when his sister Mandy Muir discovered her green thumb during the Northern Territory's Covid-19 lockdowns in 2020. Mandy now teaches her grandsons Anthony and Tyrese to love gardening too. The Kakadu billabong family community enjoy growing many types of tropical fruits and vegetables like pawpaw, banana, tomatoes, broccoli, citrus trees, mangoes, cashews, custard apples, tamarind and bush foods like red apple, white apple and native lemongrass. The community includes close relatives from Tiwi Islands and has always been a place that welcomes family, friends and visitors into their busy, noisy, joyful billabong home in Kakadu.
DIANE LUCAS grew up exploring the bush in New South Wales. She moved to Kakadu in her late twenties. There she worked as a schoolteacher on an Aboriginal outstation and in turn was taught many things about the bush. From 1991 to 1996, Diane worked on a research project in Kakadu, documenting traditional resources on the South Alligator River floodplain and surrounds. She was encouraged by the elders to write about the land and get stories to children. They have supported her efforts as an educator with her children's books, the first being Walking with the Seasons in Kakadu. Since then she has had six other publications. She now lives only two hours from Kakadu, with her husband, and maintains a close relationship with the people and country of Kakadu. She and her husband travel in northern Australia and Africa doing botanical and fire ecology work. Diane is inspired by wild landscapes and the cultural context of these places, and the way children explore and play in wild habitats with such ease. She does much of her writing as she travels and walks in the bush.
An accomplished artist, EMMA LONG has exhibited regularly in group and solo exhibitions across the Northern Territory. Her passion for creative arts has led her to work as an art educator in secondary schools as well as pursue a Bachelor of Visual Arts, a Certificate in Printmaking and a Graduate Diploma of Education. She is inspired by the fresh, raw beauty of nature and feels most at home in the bush with a brush in hand. Emma lives in Darwin with her husband and four children and continues to work as an illustrator and an art educator.