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The Kakadu Culture Camp is owned and operated by the Hunter family from Kakadu National Park. It was a dream of their late Grandfather Namandjalorrwokwok to establish a camp where Bininj (Aboriginal) people could live and work, and share their culture, traditional heritage and amazing wildlife with tourists from around the world.
The Hunter family is Fred, Jenny, Dell and Douglas; all born and bred at Madjinbardi (Mudginberri Buffalo Station) on the edge of the famous Magela wetlands in what was later to become Kakadu National Park, proclaimed in 1979. Their clan is Bolmo Deidjrungi; and they are traditional owners of country covering areas in the freshwater reaches of the nearby East Alligator River. During the ‘wet’, the family live at their outstation on the Bowali Creek in central Kakadu, and move to Djarradjin in the ‘dry’ season to operate the culture camp.
The Hunter family are all members of Kakadu’s Gagudju and Djabulukgu Associations, and also Warddeken Land Management Ltd. Warddeken’s membership is Traditional Owners of West Arnhem Land, one of their aims is to maintain their land through extended walks through country employing a traditional fire burning regime.
Fred and Jenny have been working as Kakadu Park Rangers since they left school and take leave during the dry (tourist) season to run the Kakadu Culture Camp. Because most of our activities are at night several other Kakadu Park Rangers and members from our extended family also work at the camp after hours. Our mob all live in a tent at the culture camp from April-October, and love it!
The following is some information about some of our staff.
Fred Hunter (Gardell)
Fred was born at Madjinbardi (Mudginberri Bufallo Station) and has been working as a Kakadu Park Ranger for over 25 years. He has lived and worked at Jim Jim Ranger Station but is now working with Kakadu Park’s Natural Resource Management. He has been involved in crocodile and feral animal (buffalo, pig) management for many years. This has included the trapping/harpooning and removal of crocodiles at various areas in Kakadu including the Nourlangie and Jim Jim creek systems (Twin Falls). He has recently been involved in harpooning crocodiles and fitting them with satellite transmitters, to assess how far they travel in various seasons. Fred spends a lot of his time operating an airboat on Park Ranger patrol in Kakadu’s extensive wetland system, and has an extensive knowledge of Kakadu’s flora and fauna.
Fred has cooked and presented Bininj bush tucker (barramundi, magpie goose, turtles) at the Kakadu Mahbilil Festival, and cooked his famous goose curry for 150 delegates at the Northern Territory Indigenous Governance Conference in Kakadu.
Fred does a lot of the campfire and ground oven cooking and also operates the spotlight on the Kakadu by Night wildlife boat cruise. He is a Director of Gagudju Association (owners of Crocodile Hotel and Gagudju Lodge Cooinda) and also Warddeken Land Management Ltd.
Jennifer Hunter (Ngaljalkarrdi)
Jenny was born under a tree at Madjinbardi (Mudginberri Buffalo Station) and has been a Kakadu Park Ranger for 20 years. She has worked at both the East Alligator River Ranger Station and Nourlangie District. Jenny has had experience in natural and cultural resource management; including catching ‘problem’ crocodiles, bushfire control, VIP ‘walks and talks’ in Kakadu; and documented oral histories and cultural information from Kakadu’s elders for the Kakadu Park Service. Jenny has also been involved in the Bininj cultural display at Mahbilil. Jenny along with other ladies from Kakadu do guided bushtucker walks and gives basket weaving demonstrations at the Culture Camp. You can often see Jenny and her 8 year old daughter Catherine walking along the edge of the billabong with a couple of guests, pointing out bushtucker trees and some of the amazing traditional plant uses.
Jenny is Australia’s first Aboriginal women to achieve full accredited Savannah Guide status, and was rated in the top 20 of Travel+Leisure magazine’s 2008 Australia and New Zealand “Travel Innovator Awards”, for outstanding contribution to the tourism industry. Jenny was the only Northern Territory resident to recieve such recognition. She was named “Gnunkai” Tour Guide of the Year at the 2009 Australian Indigenous Tourism Awards held in Queensland.
Dell Hunter (Gudjal Gudjal)
Dell enjoys telling Bininj dreamtime stories around the campfire, and makes the best damper! Dell is Jenny’s older sister and helps out around the camp with basket weaving and bushtucker walks. Dell has worked for many years as a health worker in Arnhem Land and Kakadu. Dell has extensive knowledge of Kakadu’s cultural landscapes, it’s people and places, and remembers ‘the good old days’ before Kakadu became a national park in 1979.
Douglas Hunter (Namara Bunja)
Douglas was born at Mudginberri. He has worked for Warnbi Aboriginal Corporation CDEP as Kakadu’s first and only qualified Bininj carpenter. Douglas makes Didgeridoos (mago) Spears (an-gole), Spearthrowers (borndok) and Clap Sticks (gun-bilngmurrung) which he demonstrates at the Culture Camp. Douglas loves giving tourists a didge lesson then seeing them have a blow on his didgeridoos! Douglas is also in charge of repair and maintenance of the camp and is often seen walking around the camp making sure everything is in good shape or “Gamak!”. He attended his first Savannah Tour Guide School in 2008, with the aim to increase his interpretation skills, particularly for international guests. In November 2009 Douglas received his Savannah “Site Interpreter” badge at the Kakadu/Arnhem Land tour guide school operated by Savannah Guides Ltd.
Andy Ralph (Nagamarrang)
Andy is Balanda (European descent) and is married to Jenny Hunter and has been living on Park Ranger Stations and Aboriginal communities in Kakadu National Park for over twenty years. After working mainly on various Kakadu land management issues, Andy now coordinates the Kakadu Culture Camp and also helps manage the Muirella Park Campground. Following ten years with Kakadu’s Supervising Scientist organisation; he worked for Kakadu’s Mirarr people as Executive Officer of Gundjeihmi Aboriginal Corporation, assisting traditional owner’s negotiations with Rio Tinto to stop the Jabiluka Uranium mine. He also helped coordinate Aboriginal “culture camp” for Mirarr elders to pass on traditional knowledge and culture to their children.
Andy is a Northern Territory Justice of the Peace; and has been a national board member of Wildlife Tourism Australia, and Chairperson of the Kakadu Mahbilil Festival; an Aboriginal cultural festival held every September in Jabiru.
He is a member of the Australian Rock Art Research Organisation and has worked with leading archaeologists recording and maintaining Aboriginal rock art in Kakadu and Arnhem Land. Andy is a past President of Savannah Guides Ltd, and is still on the Board of Directors of the not for profit network of professional tour guides interpreting the tropical savannah country of northern Australia. In November 2009 Andy was also electedfor a 2 year term to the national board of Ecotourism Australia.
Andy works with many documetary film makers on location and is a ‘step on guide’ for several tour companies that travel through Kakadu including Bill Peach Air Cruising Australia, as well as various cruise ships shore excursions from Port Darwin. He also guides groups around rock art sites and presents seminars on Kakadu’s pre history and anthropology. Andy is also a fully accredited Savannah Guide, and leads special interest tours into Arnhem Land. By day Andy is Bininj Homelands Officer at West Arnhem College, and also contracts to GeoScience Australia (in charge of Kakadu’s observation station at South Alligator River) and is often heard on ABC Radio providing expert comment on Kakadu National Park.