Big Bill Neidjie(c1913 – 23 May 2002) was the last surviving speaker of the Gaagudju language, an Aboriginal Australian language from northern Kakadu, after which Kakadu National Park is named. He was an elder of the Gaagudju people and a custodian of the land, who cared deeply about preserving his culture and land.
He was a senior elder of Kakadu National Park and a traditional owner of the Bunitj estate in northern Kakadu, perhaps the most spectacular national park in Australia. His decision to open up this land to other people was instrumental in the creation of Kakadu National Park. Prior to returning to Kakadu to support the implementation of the Park he had a diverse and adventurous life across the Top End of Australia.
From the forewords of GAMU:
“This book is mesmerising. As you read this book, this life story, you can hear Big Bill’s voice in your mind. You can see him in your imagination. You can enjoy his humour and feel his warmth when he talks about his family and country. It is like sitting beside him and just quietly listening. It is not all warmth and reinforcement of culture. Big Bill also talks about the pain and some of the real challenges like ‘grog’ facing our communities. One of the stunning things about this book is how the narration by Big Bill reveals his Dreaming and how it is real, alive and explains life. The Dreaming contains lessons about the creation of the world around us and explanations of its morality.” The Hon Linda Burney MP
“Sarah George has been entrusted and guided by Big Bill as he unlocks the gates to a secret country. Now, you too can see anew the landscape and the spirituality that hangs subtly like a mist, aware of the ageless philosophy that he lived by. This book will enable many to witness the path of his ancestors, the songlines travelled by the spirit beings, ever so strongly and with a rightful first nations narrative.” Rhoda Roberts AO
Published by Cyclops Publishing, 240 pp, 2022, hardback
Big Bill became known internationally as “Kakadu man”, for both his work in the park and books of poetry and prose, with his first book being titled Kakadu Man.