The last time Keith Adams saw Nyarrapyi Giles, she was an emaciated teenage mother trying desperately to keep her two small sons alive in the Gibson Desert while teetering on the brink of death herself.

After arranging for the dehydrated, starving family to be airlifted to Alice Springs, the Perth-based adventurer and filmmaker heard later that they had died in hospital. That was 54 years ago.

Yesterday, Giles appeared to come back from the dead for Adams.

Sprightly and bright-eyed, the now 70-something senior Aboriginal artist was reunited with Adams in a flurry of laughter and hugs at the Mt Lawley art gallery that is hosting her second major exhibition in Perth.

Despite not speaking a word of each other’s language, the pair clowned around like old buddies as The West Australian’s photographer tried to settle them down for a picture.

Adams, 83, made an international name for himself as a Crocodile Dundee-style adventurer and crocodile hunter many decades before Paul Hogan and Steve Irwin came along.