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Voice of Real Australia: Meet the man from the bush going viral on TikTok

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Behind the scenes with Mr Pamkal and Top Didj Owner Petrena Ariston. Picture: Supplied

Behind the scenes with Mr Pamkal and Top Didj Owner Petrena Ariston. Picture: Supplied

Manuel Pamkal is an artist from a tiny remote community in the Top End. Now, he's sharing his culture with thousands of TikTok users across the world.

Mr Pamkal is a Dalabon man from Bulman Community, around 300km from Katherine, and works as the resident guide at Katherine's Top Didj Cultural Experience and Art Gallery.

When the business decided to venture onto TikTok, Mr Pamkal volunteered to be in front of the camera.

Since the first video went up earlier this year, the account has gained more than 18,000 followers and almost 200,000 thousand likes.

The videos feature Mr Pamkal talking about and sharing aspects of his culture including his art, language and stories.

"I like to share [my culture]," he said.

"At the cultural experience people come from all around the world, from everywhere...they ask me questions and I tell them story.

"I reckon more people will come [now]."

Mr Pamkal said he has a lot of fun making the TikToks, like the one of him riding a mower with a baby wallaby in his lap, or another of him nonchalantly holding a 3m wild python.

"For people like me, born in the bush, it's fun. They tell me 'come on Manuel we're gonna do a TikTok,' we have fun, we laugh, I might make a mistake," he said.

"My family, they watch them too."

Top Didj owner Petrena Ariston said she thinks the videos have become so popular because of Mr Pamkal's personality.

"It's just his persona, his beautiful smile. And, you know, he's genuine," she said.

"And he's got a story to tell. He's got a story to tell that people are interested in."

She enlisted the help of her tech-savvy granddaughter to edit the TikToks, and said they have already helped bring people into the business which has had a difficult year because of COVID-19.

"We had already at least two people coming in saying 'oh, we saw you on TikTok,'" she said.

"And this family came in and she said, 'my son said, Mum, we've got to go and see Manual because I saw him on TikTok.'"

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