Old Man’s story: The last thoughts of Kakadu Elder Bill Neidjie

Wednesday, 1 July 2015 - 4:00pm
Old Man's story book cover

Old Man’s story shares the remarkable story of one of Australia’s most respected elders and traditional land owners, ‘Big Bill’ Neidjie. This new title from Aboriginal Studies Press is available from 1 July 2015.

The last remaining speaker of Gaagudju language, Neidjie was committed to sharing his story with future generations as well as educating the wider community about Aboriginal culture, even breaking tradition to do so. He was instrumental in the establishment of Kakadu National Park (along with allowing public access) and its inclusion onto the UNESCO World Heritage list.

Before his passing in 2002, over a period of two years Neidjie allowed photographer Mark Lang the rare opportunity to record his thoughts which explore his views on culture, family, community and country, offering beautifully nuanced stories in his own words and rhythms.

These stories are accompanied by Lang’s stunning landscape photographs of the locations the old man speaks about. Structured in the cycle of the seasons, Old Man’s story provides readers with insights into the annual transformation of landscape that were so integral to Neidjie’s life story.

Told with great affection and respect for country, Old Man’s story is an important read for those seeking to learn more about Indigenous history and culture, and to understanding the significance of living on and looking after country.

“Big Bill spoke for the Earth. Ma, Bor Bor.” – Senator Nova Peris OAM

“Between these covers — profoundly beautiful images, words and ideals.” – Phillip Adams

During the past 35 years Mark Lang has ventured out into the Australian landscape with a panoramic camera to record the varied extremes, eventually selling his house so that he could complete a book; a task that took seven years to complete.

It was during this journey that he met up with ‘Big Bill’ Neidjie, an elder and traditional owner of Kakadu. For over two years Mark worked with Old Man Bill, recording his story and photographing his country. Old Man’s story is the result.

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Last reviewed: 1 May 2017