“You feel it from the heart. It’s something words can’t explain.”
So says Paul Arnold, a Darwin-based landscape photographer dressed like a cross between Steve Irwin and Crocodile Dundee (khaki shorts and shirt, battered bush hat, huge gold nugget on a kangaroo-skin strap around his neck). He’s talking about Kakadu, Australia’s largest national park – a world heritage-listed wilderness that’s home to wetlands, waterfalls, wildlife and the world’s longest continuous surviving culture.
We’re here on a four-day trip to follow in the footsteps of Mick Dundee himself, 30 years after Paul Hogan’s smash-hit film catapulted Kakadu, the outback – and Australia itself – on to the world stage.
In Arnold’s gallery in Darwin, surrounded by his shots of the Top End, he tells us to be still and drink it in. “You’ll know what I’m talking about when you get there,” he says. “That’s the thing about Kakadu – it can’t not change you.”