The man who filmed stone age society
hundred years previously to provide milk, meat, and pulling power for military garrisons, were rampaging in enormous herds.
Attenborough and his entourage — only two in those days: one cameraman and a sound recordist — were given lessons on how to avoid death if venturing out with no gun. Best chance is to climb a tree. Second best is to lie down and hope they jump over you. Third… well there is no third. These alien beasts have now been completely exterminated in the name of the conservation of indigenous mammals. And Nourlangie itself, instead of being a big-game shooting centre, is now part of the Kakadu National Park.
Searching out, as he always did, the traditional ways of living, Attenborough goes walkabout with an aboriginal man, Charlie, of the Walbiri people. On a ridge, Charlie chooses a boulder and flakes it with a pebble. He proceeds to turn this blade into a knife by cooking up some spinifex grass dust in a bonfire and moulding a handle. It is reminiscent of the making of the stone axe in New Guinea.
This is an example of how Attenborough tells a story.
He neatly opens and closes with Stone Age tool fabrication. In between these bookends, each chapter is itself a quest: a search for something or someone rare. With his usual charm and generosity, Attenborough allows us along for the ride.
The book brings us on a journey with Attenborough in the early 1960s, when his crew consisted of only two people, a cameraman and sound recordist.