Victor Cooper

Growing up

When I was young, my family lived in the bush on cattle stations where there were no vehicles or shops. We moved about from place to place following our cultural seasonal patterns.

Whilst visiting family in Darwin I attended school, on and off, until 1972. I then took up a carpentry trade and was employed building houses in an Aboriginal community known as Bagot Reserve until the cyclone hit in 1974. Cyclone Tracy had a huge impact on my family and meant I had to move on to doing something else.

I left Darwin and worked on various cattle stations in the Northern Territory. I then moved to Croker Island, where my father's family lived, and gained work as a butcher.

My love for Kakadu

When Kakadu National Park was declared in 1979. I was recruited along with six other Aboriginals as a trainee ranger. I worked all over Kakadu before settling down to work on the country of my mother's father and uncles in the South Alligator district. I was awarded an APS Medallion for outstanding service before I left the government in 2007.

In 2008 I established Ayal Aboriginal Tours Kakadu as a way of sharing our living culture to visitors from Australia and all over the world. Ayal is family owned and operated. We are Traditional Owners of Kakadu and we hold the Kakadu Knowledge for Tour Guides Accreditation.