AustLit logo
Bill Neidjie Bill Neidjie i(A26235 works by) (a.k.a. Big Bill Neidjie; Bill Nadji)
Born: Established: 1913 ; Died: Ceased: 23 May 2002
Gender: Male
Heritage: Aboriginal Bunitj ; Aboriginal
(Storyteller) assertion
The material on this page is available to AustLit subscribers. If you are a subscriber or are from a subscribing organisation, please log in to gain full access. To explore options for subscribing to this unique teaching, research, and publishing resource for Australian culture and storytelling, please contact us or find out more.

BiographyHistory

Bill Neidjie was born at Alawanydajawany along the East Alligator River. His father was Nadampala and his mother Lucy Wirlmaka from the Ulbuk clan of the Amurrak people. He spent most of his childhood in his father's country, Bunitj Clan land on the western side of that river. Here he learnt to hunt and manage the resources of his environment. As a boy Neidjie lived for five or six years at Cape Don with his mother and her family. Billy Manilungu, a prominent ceremonial leader and buffalo hunter, taught him much of the traditional Aboriginal law. Neidjie attended school at Oenpelli Mission for two years around 1927. When his father died in 1928 he followed his mother to Coopers Creek where they camped for about four years, living on bush tucker. Prior to World War II Neidjie had a variety of jobs for which he was paid in kind with tea, sugar, meat, flour and tobacco. He worked for eight years at timber-mill camps and a short time in Darwin. During the war Neidjie provided supplies for Colonel Bill Sanderson of the Royal Australian Air Force who kept the lighthouse open at Cape Don. He was in Darwin during the 1942 bombing and assisted indigenous people affected by it. It was at this time that he was also initiated in a Ubarr ceremony at Paw Paw Beach.

Both before and after the war, Neidjie worked for Leo Hickey on a lugger along the north coast for nearly 30 years. In 1979 he returned to take up permanent residence on his Bunitj Clan land and became a claimant in the Alligator Rivers Stage II land claim. He had a large input into Indjuwanydjuwa : a report on Bunitj clan sites in the Alligator Rivers region (1982). As a result of the claim the Bunitj people of the Gagudju language group gained title to their land. Niedjie was instrumental in the decision to lease the traditional lands to the Commonwealth of Australia so it could be managed as a resource for all Australians. He became a senior elder of Kakadu National Park, where his son, Johnathan Nadji (q.v.) trained as a park ranger. In 1989 he was awarded the Order of Australia for services to conservation. When he died in late May 2002, the Gagadju tongue died with him. The last speaker of the language of the Bunidj people, he died near Kakadu, the park named after his language.

Exhibitions

17687964

Most Referenced Works

Notes

  • Bill Neidjie's Story About Feeling (1989) indicates he was born 'sometime between 1911 and 1913'. vii. Kakadu Man : Bill Neidjie (1985): 26 states 'mid 1920s or earlier'.
Last amended 1 Feb 2008 11:24:10
Other mentions of "" in AustLit:
    X