“I’m going to ask you to keep your head torches switched off,” my guide Tony stated as our little boat slowly drifted towards what I hoped, in the darkness of predawn, was a stable river bank. It was a little after 5am and the only light came from the pinpricks of the stars.

So begins Phoebe’s article in the Telegraph, which recounted her journey along the mighty Murray River, in South Australia.

A kangaroo hops alongside the Murray River outside Renmark ©Phoebe Smith

In it she recounts the wonderful wildlife, river tales, aboriginal history and years of debate that have taken place over the years between environmentalists and agriculturalists.

She also wrote another piece for the newspaper about a place much further north of the country – the mysterious Tiwi Islands.

Tiwi Islanders are famed for their artwork ©Phoebe Smith

Located north of Darwin, in the top end of the country, due to its isolation it is a place where aboriginal culture has been perhaps preserved the best. Here’s a little taster of her article…

White smoke plumed into the air so thick I could no longer see beyond it, while the rhythmic sound of clap sticks rent the air like a heartbeat. The scent of burning eucalyptus leaves filled my nose, reminding me of the Vicks rubbed on my chest as a child when I was ill, while the humid air felt damp against my skin.

As the all-encompassing vapour began to dissipate, I could see my guide Thaddeus’s outline begin to appear like a spectre. He beckoned me to walk through the vapour and I stood to face him, his skin painted with lines of red, ochre and white.

Heartfelt calls from Thaddeus, his friend Tobias, and his wife and her friend, began to harmonise as I was – they informed me – cleansed of any bad spirits which might have followed me to their island home. Then, the dancing began.

To read the whole article click here.

Artwork is ubiquitous in the Northern Territory’s Tiwi Islands ©Phoebe Smith

Keep an eye out for more tales from Down Under from Phoebe.