Roaming the Wild North

Of Australia's many untamed expanses, Arnhem Land, the vast spread of savannah, swamps and crocodile-infested rivers on the northeastern tip of the Northern Territory, remains one of the wildest. A handful of settlements dot its 95,000-sq.-km area, and the unsealed 750-km road that crosses it is passable only in the dry season. When anthropologist Donald Thomson, whose writings on this enigmatic region will be republished this month in Donald Thomson in Arnhem Land (Miegunyah Press; 264 pages), arrived there just 70 years ago, it was also feared by many whites, who had heard stories of its ferocious nomadic tribes.

Thomson...

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