In 1970 I went to an “open day” at Maningrida in Central Arnhem Land, which back then was a Government settlement established to facilitate policies of assimilation for indigenous people. Not all indigenous people were persuaded to leave their country and traditional lifestyles. Mandark, born around 1915, was one such man who stayed in his country with his four wives and twenty five children. The family did however trade with white people — the women made beautiful baskets and dillybags and Mandark and his sons painted on sheets of stringybark and made spears and didgeridoos. On this first trip to Maningrida I visited the community art centre and came away with the painting above. The description pencilled on the back was: Nawaran, snake of the rock country with its eggs. Artist: Mandark. Tribe: Dangbon. It was about six years later that scientists caught up with Mandark’s advanced taxonomy, and gave the scientific name Morelia oenpelliensis to this impressive creature. Because it is a creature endemic to the rugged and remote sandstone of West Arnhem Land, it wasn’t noticed by science until the 1970s. It grows to more than 4 metres and is a fairly slim snake but it can — in true python style — unhinge its jaws and swallow a wallaby. Nawaran is a stealth hunter and waits patiently for an opportunity to take warm blooded prey — possums and small macropods amongst the rocks and flying foxes high in paperbark trees. It holds its prey in its jaws while it squeezes with its coils and asphyxiates its prey. I’ll write more of Mandark — without doubt one of most extraordinary people I have ever met.