One of the highlights of a much-travelled life is a journey I made many years ago on a proa - a traditional sailing boat - from Indonesia to Australia.
And he recounts harrowing journeys by dugout canoe and prau , and battles with fever and isolation - a physically and intellectually adventurous life that deserves to be better known.
The early fishers were Malays, also known as Macassans, from the Indonesian islands, and it seems they regularly sailed south in their sailing ships or praus to harvest, preserve, and take their trepang home.
Macassans crossed the Arafura Sea each December in a fleet of small wooden vessels, called praus , and set up camp on beaches, particularly on islands in the Gulf of Carpentaria and in Arnhem Land.
By 7:30 our prahu is roaring downriver toward the open sea, toward Nabire and safety.
Did ancient prahus sail down to the Antarctic seas, searching for a promised land but dying a frozen death?
Prior to this, Yolngu had experienced sustained contact with a variety of outsiders and their religious beliefs - from Indonesian fishermen arriving in prahus from Makassar, to Dutch and French explorers as well as Japanese pearlers.
He and six porters are already on board the 30-foot canoe, called a prahu ; three more will meet us at base camp.