Manuel Pamkal was born and spent his early years at King River, southeast of Katherine, NT. At the age of 13 he and his family moved to Eva Valley and stayed for one year. Then they relocated to Bamyili (Barunga) where Manuel went to school.
His father taught him when he was 15 years old the traditional way to do bark painting: to harvest and burn stringy bark, straighten it with cross sticks, and make it ready for painting. He also taught him to find and use traditional pigments from the bush: white clay (bim), red ochre (marnarr), yellow ochre (kilirri), and black charcoal (ngurlmiyi). Manuel’s father often told the young people dreamtime stories about what happened a long time ago when all the animals were human.
Nowadays Manuel tells these same stories to his sons, nephews, grandsons and other young men and boys from the community. He believes strongly that the culture must be kept alive and passed on to the next generations. He also teaches the young people traditional painting techniques, just as his father once taught him. Manuel has been a senior tour guide at Manyallaluk and has worked as a tour guide for over ten years, along with his wife, Jessica.