Paddling the mystical waters of the Kimberley’s Fitzroy River is a journey into another realm.

Story By Matthew Newton

Running through the waist-high grass, arms apart, waving with excitement, they look like a cross between a crack commando team and ninja turtles in their yellow and orange buoyancy vests and helmets. They form a loose circle around their target then, seemingly out of nowhere, Whalen Marr sprints into the middle of the circle and brings his yellow paddle crashing down. With the clap of impact comes a chorus of whooping and cheering and the prize is held high: a three-metre-long goanna. The boys from the Bunuba people of Fitzroy Crossing, a small outpost 300 kilometres east of Broome in the Kimberley region of Western Australia, are taking white water rafting to a new level. It is a case of the bush tucker man meets the extreme games.
We are three days into a two-week trip along the Fitzroy River. It is mid-February and the height of the wet season. The river is in peak flow and the temperature and humidity suffocating.

This story excerpt is from Issue #45

Outback Magazine: Feb/Mar 2006