Walking the Rock Country in Kakadu by Diane Lucas and Ben Tyler

Reviewed by Wendy Lipke

Walking the Rock Country in Kakadu is a beautifully illustrated hard-covered book which has much to share with the reader. Although it has been published as a book for Primary School children the detailed, vivid images and information it provides have much to share with young and old.

Throughout the story many words from First Nations language are used, usually the names of plants and animals. In these instances, small sketches of the particular species are provided. The book also has a three-page glossary of these species with illustrations which I imagine would be well consulted.

Notes for readers at the beginning of the book provide information about Kakadu First Nations clans and languages. The book takes the reader for a walk in this remote, beautiful part of Australia through the narration of a child, as the mother and children spend time in this part of the Australian landscape. A map of the area designated as Kakadu National Park is also provided.

There is so much to learn from this book that it would take several readings to absorb the knowledge which it contains. What I enjoyed reading about was not just the Aboriginal ways of doing things but the reasons behind their actions. Yet there are also aspects of their beliefs that were mystifying such as the Djidjnguk, the short, spirited beings who hunt along the river at night, spearing fish (28/29). I found trying to pronounce the indigenous words quite tricky.

An added aspect which would be most beneficial to Primary School children was the behavioural lessons contained within the story. After a worrying experience when not following mum’s direction and going beyond her eyesight the child says, ‘From then on, I always listened more carefully to my mum’ (4).

This publication is a collaboration of three talented people. Diane Lucas moved to Kakadu in her late twenties where she worked as a teacher on an Aboriginal outstation. After taking part in research projects in the area she was encouraged by elders to write stories for children about the land.

Ben Tyler, a Bininj entrepreneur and founder of Kakadu Kitchen, also lives in Kakadu country preserving oral histories and documenting Kakadu native language. Emma Long is an accomplished artist in the Northern Territory. She was shortlisted in the 2022 Children’s Book Council of Australia (CBCA) Award for New Illustrator because of her previous work on Walking in Gagudju Country: Exploring the Monsoon Forest. Each has provided their exceptional skills to provide a wonderful book for a broad audience.

Walking the Rock Country in Kakadu


by Diane Lucas & Ben Tyler, illustrated by Emma Long

Allen & Unwin

ISBN:  978-1-76106-786-0

$29.99; 34pp

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