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. 



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European tourists viewing an outback carpet pythonWhat do tourists value when they visit Australia’s Top End?  Are they into shock and awe?  In other words do they care as much as the tourism industry about what Australian region has the biggest crocodile?  And what about birdwatching? 

Women dominate the huge US birdwatching market, and many want to experience more than just new birds. So are our guides too fixated on twitchers, a small market dominated by men? 

If many visitors wish more a more in-depth experience, then does the tourism industry deliver?  Are the true experts involved, from the senior citizen who is an authority on native orchids to the grazier or Indigenous family living on their country.  

If our wildlife tourism does not deliver to both citizens and visitors, then why not, and how can we fix it?

To examine the problems, potential and possibilities Wildlife Tourism Australia will hold a workshop on connecting wildlife and visitors in the Top End this coming October, to be opened by the Northern Territory Administrator, the Hon. Sally Thomas, AO.

The Hon. Sally Thomas (right) with Denise Goodfellow and her new bookVariously described as an “NT Treasure” and a “ratbag of the north”, eco-tour guide, passionate birder and former buffalo hunter Denise Lawungkurr Goodfellow has published a new book about birds of the Top End.

NT Administrator the Hon. Sally Thomas launched Denise’ latest book, Birds of Palmerston in Australia’s Top End, at Darwin’s Government House earlier this month.

Co-written by Denise and her partner Michael Stott, the beautifully illustrated 52-page book is rich with ornithological descriptions, leavened by wonderful anecdotes from Denise’s four decades in the Top End.

In her forward to the book, the Hon. Sally Thomas describes Denise as “a Northern Territory treasure…who has worked as a biological consultant, conducted countless bird guiding tours for domestic as well as overseas visitors and has an incredible knowledge of the flora and fauna that we all enjoy in this part of the world”.

While the “ratbag of the north” tag came from someone less enamoured of Denise‘s work, she now bears it with pride.

Denise's middle name ‘Lawungkurr’ belongs to a Dreamtime woman still respected for her mediation skills. Denise was given the name by elders in western Arnhem Land in recognition of her efforts to halt abuse of the area's indigenous Kunwinjku people.


We arrived in Honolulu, Oahu, late on Monday, 1st June, from Dallas, Texas, and after about an hour's wait, caught an inter-island flight to the Big Island, Hawai'i (Hawai'i is the island's actual name, but was given to the chain by Pai'ea Kamehameha [meaning “the lonely one] who ruled as last war chief/first king).   From above the island appeared heavily fissured with steep verdant razorback ridges.