Australia's Northern Safari

Brennan, Claire (2017) Australia's Northern Safari. M/C Journal, 20 (6).

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[Extract] Filmed during a 1955 family trip from Perth to the Gulf of Carpentaria, Keith Adams’s Northern Safari showed to packed houses across Australia, and in some overseas locations, across three decades. Essentially a home movie, initially accompanied by live commentary and subsequently by a homemade sound track, it tapped into audiences’ sense of Australia’s north as a place of adventure. In the film Adams interacts with the animals of northern Australia (often by killing them), and while by 1971 the violence apparent in the film was attracting criticism in letters to newspapers, the film remained popular through to the mid-1980s, and was later shown on television in Australia and the United States (Cowan 2; Adams, Crocodile Safari Man 261). A DVD is at present available for purchase from the website of the same name (Northern Safari).

Adams and his supporters credited the film’s success to the rugged and adventurous landscape of northern Australia (Northeast vii), characterised by dangerous animals, including venomous spiders, sharks and crocodiles (see Adams, “Aussie”; “Crocodile”). The notion of Australia’s north as a place of rugged adventure was not born with Adams’s film, and that film was certainly not the last production to exploit the region and its wildlife as a source of excitement. Rather, Northern Safari belongs to a long list of adventure narratives whose hunting exploits have helped define the north of Australian as a distinct region and contrast it with the temperate south where most Australians make their lives.

This article explores the connection between adventure in Australia’s north and the large animals of the region. Adams’s film capitalised on popular interest in natural history, but his film is only one link in a chain of representations of the Australian north as a place of dangerous and charismatic megafauna. While over time interest shifted from being largely concentrated on the presence of buffalo in the Northern Territory to a fascination with the saltwater crocodiles found more widely in northern Australia that interest in dangerous prey animals is significant to Australia’s northern imaginary.

Item ID: 53000
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1441-2616
Keywords: safari; northern Australia; hunting; tourism; buffalo; crocodile; Keith Adams; Crocodile Dundee; Steve Irwin
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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

Date Deposited: 05 Apr 2018 03:15
FoR Codes: 43 HISTORY, HERITAGE AND ARCHAEOLOGY > 4303 Historical studies > 430302 Australian history @ 95%
45 INDIGENOUS STUDIES > 4501 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture, language and history > 450107 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander history @ 5%
SEO Codes: 97 EXPANDING KNOWLEDGE > 970121 Expanding Knowledge in History and Archaeology @ 100%
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