Welcome to Denise Goodfellow's website
Denise Lawungkurr Goodfellow is a birdwatching/natural history guide, environmental/Indigenous tourism consultant and writer. She began guiding in 1983. Most of her clientele are well-educated, well-travelled Americans who hear of her by word of mouth. As a biological consultant she has conducted fauna surveys in the remote Top End, often solo. In 1981 she stood for Council to save mangrove habitat. Denise is a published author of books including “Birds of Australia’s Top End” - described as winning ‘top honors’ by American Birdwatcher’s Digest), and ‘impressive’ by the American Birding Association’s Winging It) - her autobiographical Quiet Snake Dreaming and Fauna of Kakadu and The Top End, which has been used as a “core text” of the University of NSW’s summer school since 2000.
This information resource is published to provide you with an insight into life in Australia's Top End - in the Northern Territory - including information about how to defeat infestations of gamba grass and how to create hand sanitiser from common household ingredients.
A few months ago, a message appeared on Facebook. Posted by a family member living in Arnhem Land it told of the electrocution of a child. The women present did not administer CPR or call for medical assistance. Rather, they prayed over him.
When the coronavirus pandemic threatened there was another message from the same person, but the tone was more anxious this time. It consisted of a photograph of a woman praying and below the message in large letters that God and prayer would protect people from the coronavirus. As before several other women supported her post and they all sounded scared.
The juxtaposition of these two messages led me to fear that if COVID-19 did make it to Aboriginal settlements, prayer would be the first port of call, at least for some. An infectious diseases specialist friend has described the potential ramifications as ‘horrifying’.
A calendar depicting Australian birds from which are endangered by increasingly ferocious bushfires is helping to raise funds to support a volunteer brigade which battles these blazes near Darwin River.
Designed by bird photographer and ecotourism expert Denise Lawungkurr Goodfellow, the Birds of Australia’s Top End 2020 calendar contains pictures of birds including the Crimson Finch, the Partridge Pidgeon, the Varied Lorikeet, the Little Kingfisher and the Red-backed Fairy Wren.
Most disturbingly, the penultimate page of the calendar contains photographs of gamba grass - an African grass introduced to Australia as cattle feed - and a ferocious fire fuelled by this invasive grass. All profits raised from sales of the calendar will go to support the work of the Darwin River Volunteer Bushfire Brigade, of which Denise and her husband Michael are both members.
Denise Goodfellow has a long history of promoting environmentally sensitive tourism to the NT. This includes her role as a founding member of Ecotourism Australia, receiving nomination by Earthfoot for Condé Nast’s International Ecotourism Award in 2004 and winning the Individual Champion Award, Natural Resource Management, Northern Territory in 2016.
NT residents are calling for urgent action to fight a fire-prone grass introduced to Australia as cattle food that’s devastating native plants and animals in the Top End and threatening the lives of locals and tourists this Dry Season.
Gamba grass (Andropogon gayanus) is a tall African grass that the Australian cattle industry has embraced for its ability to support many more cattle than native pasture and its tolerance of tropical seasons. Gamba grass is highly flammable, growing in clumps as tall as four metres with stems as thick as bamboo.
Australian eco-tourism expert and long-time NT resident Denise Goodfellow describes the gamba grass infestations of the Top End as “verging on the catastrophic”. "While the NT Government has put much effort into fighting gamba grass, we need to recognise that it’s more than a nuisance weed – it is a disaster waiting to happen,” she warns.