Heide Smiths Tiwi Collection - How it all started



in the beginning

Even as a teenager I had dreams of visiting indigenous people on the globe somewhere. When we emigrated to Australia, my thoughts often wandered to the OUTBACK of Australia, wanting to meet the FIRST AUSTRALIANS. When we moved to Canberra an opportunity arose and I took it like a flash.

In July 1987, I flew to Darwin to meet the skipper of the Trisha Kate, a roll-on barge supplying isolated settlements in the Arafura Sea. The skipper was the legendary, now late, George Haritos, who knew the tricky waters around the islands like the back of his hand. He had many tales to tell. I signed up as a cook and bottle washer on the barge. We visited Croker Island, Maningrida, Millingimbi, Ramangining, Buckingham River, Elcho Island and the Tiwi islands, before returning to Darwin. With the help of hunter Simon Kyle-Little, I photographed a buffalo round-up at Goodparla Station, and crocodiles in the Alligator Rivers.

As you can see from my "portrait", buffalo hunting is hot dirty work. After finishing my tea, I walked over to the billabong with every intention of having a dip. One of the jackeroos said "saw a croc in there last week Miss". So I stayed hot and dirty!



The Trisha Kate

Croc Buckingham River

Heide Buffalo Hunting


my first visit to the tiwi islands

I had a permit to visit the Tiwi islands, so I then flew to Nguiu on Bathurst Island. I only stayed a week, but that was enough for me to make up my mind. I had seen many strange and fascinating sights during my travels through the “top end”, but it was the Tiwi Islanders who captured my heart. I wanted to know them better, and I wanted to produce a photographic portrait of the people. My second book on the Tiwi  "Portrait of a People - the Tiwi of Northern Australia" is still available from my website


To see or not to see. That is the question.

Content Censorship is now a way of life for bloggers posting on Social Media. Unfortunately, the technology cannot differentiate between photographs of an ancient people practicing their culture and pornography. Fortunately, my website containing The Tiwi Collection does not appear to offend anyone. So if you would like to see ALL of my Tiwi photographs, have a look at my website


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