On their way down from their headwaters the Mann, Liverpool, Gumardir and East Alligator Rivers all run through extensive sections of gorges, which in many places are spaces where rainforest species are protected from wildfire. This gorge is on the Mann River, on the eastern side of the Arnhem Plateau. The indigenous people of the plateau talk about where rivers start and finish quite differently to the concepts used in Australian mainstream english speech. In Australian english rivers are spoken of as finishing in the sea. In indigenous ways of talking in West Arnhem Land a river finishes at the point where it starts its journey to the sea, and it starts where it enters the sea. It’s one of those “you say ‘start’, I say ‘finish’ things and quite confusing until each speaker picks up on what’s happening. The photo was taken a few years ago as water levels dropped in the transition from wet season to dry season.

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