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Walking through Country

TAKE THE FAMILY on an enchanting journey through the ancient ecosystems of Kakadu in a stunning new picture book by Diane Lucas, Ben Tyler and Emma Long, Walking in Gagudju Country: Exploring the Monsoon Rainforest.

As you meander through the shady monsoon forest, you’re made aware of creatures and plants, both large and small, teeming in the country around you. Your companions on this delightful walk – children’s author, researcher and educator, Diane Lucas, and Bininj entrepreneur and founder of Kakadu Kitchen, Ben Tyler – share the names of the flora and fauna in English and Kundjeyhmi, one of several language groups of the Bininj people.

Walking in Gagudju Country emerged from a longstanding friendship between Diane and Ben. The two have walked together through Country since Ben was six, when Diane worked as a schoolteacher on an outstation in Kakadu. As a teacher, Diane found working with the children an enlightening experience, learning just as much from them as they did from her.

“The children just know so much. I remember Ben, he had this lovely yam he liked … and some of the other children taught me to sing for it … and you would find it in the grass,” says Diane.

Despite the 20-year age difference between them, Ben and Diane always got on well and have long wanted to collaborate together. Meeting children’s publisher Erica Wagner from Allen & Unwin at the Octopus 19 story camp, run by Darwin-based production house Story Projects, provided them with the guidance they needed for the project to really take off.

For Ben, it’s a special opportunity to share Bininj history.

“It comes back to the idea of sharing our stories and our culture, and we do that through our lived experience. Di and I share stories from our lived experience and what old people have taught us."

Infused with Bininj culture and knowledge about the animals and plants in this unique part of the world, Walking in Gagudju Country places the much-loved landscapes of Kakadu in a new light for both children and adults. Emma Long’s exquisite illustrations bring the details of environment – from the berrerd-berrerd (rainbow bee-eater) and kabo (green ants) to the an-nunjek (bush grape) – and the stories of ancestral beings, such as the Rainbow Serpent, to life in glorious colour.

There’s even a handy glossary at the back to help kids and their parents remember the Kundjeyhmi words for different plants or creatures, making it the perfect guidebook to pack on your next camping trip as you wander through magical Gagudju Country.

The perfect Christmas gift for the little ones, grab your copy of this gorgeous Top End picture book today!


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