Behind the Legend: An Archaeology of Bininj, Buffaloes and Balanda in Kakadu National Park

Charlotte Feakins

Event details

PhD Seminar

Date & time

Monday 06 November 2017


Coombs Seminar Room B


Charlotte Feakins


Charlotte Feakins

Asian water Buffalo (Bubalus bubalis), believed to have originated from Timor, were released from failed military settlements in the Northern Territory in the early to mid 1800s. The small number grew and established, quickly spreading through the wetlands in the north of the Alligator Rivers Region. They flourished in the Top End and from the 1880s Non-Aboriginal shooters were attracted to the area specifically to exploit the growing herds. These adventurous entrepreneurs were also involved in other seasonal and fragmented activities, that Levitus (1981) described as a ‘fossicking economy'. The buffalo shooting industry is steeped in folklore and has helped to shape Australian national identity with its famous white male 'legends' like Tom Cole and even Crocodile Dundee. I apply an interdisciplinary approach, drawing on folkloristics and historical archaeology to understand the involvement of Aboriginal people in the industry. Through the concepts of borders and liminality, I argue that a separate, everyday folklore emerged, contrasting with the colonial and nationalist folklore. In this seminar I will provide an overview of my theoretical considerations, field work and preliminary results, chapter outline and plan, as well as discussing difficulties encountered.

Updated:  7 July 2017/Responsible Officer:  Director, Culture, History & Language/Page Contact:  CHL webmaster