This resource ties in with the Australian Curriculum,
specifically for Year 4 and Year 9 learners, providing a closer look at individuals
and groups who established contact with Asia and Oceania during the European
age of discovery. The impact of European exploration on Indigenous peoples of
the Pacific will be explored and the reactions and responses of the British
and French visitants to the region.

Corrobborree, or Dance of the Natives of New South Wales. (1820) by Walter Preston (engraver)National Portrait Gallery

Key Inquiry questions for Year 4 Humanities and Social Sciences

- How have laws affected the lives of people, past and present?

- What were the short and long-term effects of European settlement on the local environment and Indigenous land and water management practices?

- What is the significance of the environment and what are the different views on how it can be used and sustained, past and present?

Key Inquiry questions for Year 9 History

- Why did the great journeys of exploration occur?

- What was life like for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples before the arrival of the Europeans?

- Why did Europeans settle in Australia?

- What was the nature and consequence of contact between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and early traders, explorers and settlers?

The Death of Captain Cook (1784) by John Webber, Francesco Bartolozzi (engraver) and William Byrne (engraver)National Portrait Gallery


The inhabitants of the Pacific
region had long occupied their land before European discovery in the 16th
century. The Age of Exploration in Oceania can be defined by three particular
phases: Spanish and Portugese in the 1500s; the Dutch in the 1600s; and English
and French throughout the 18th century. It is in this latter stage of
exploration by the British and French, particularly in the second half of the
1700s, that exploration of the Pacific reached its peak. More specifically, it
was the three lengthy voyages of Captain James Cook and his detailed mapping of
the region that led to the colonisation and great movement of people to the New
World. The relationships forged between
Indigenous peoples of the region and the British throughout this period of
exploration reveal the dependency on Indigenous knowledge, charity and
diplomacy to survive in the Antipodes. It also reveals how Indigenous people
made practical use of Europeans to further aims in their own communities. 

Captain Cook’s Assassination

Cook’s assassination in Kealakekua Bay, Hawai‘i, in
1779 produced an explosion of commentary, both in eighteenth-century popular
culture and in twentieth-century historical scholarship. Cook had enjoyed a
mostly warm welcome from Hawaiians when he revisited their islands in late
1778. When he had to return unexpectedly in February 1779, however, due to a
broken mast, the reception was different. Cook may have been aware that earlier
he had benefited from arriving during the carnivalesque season of peace called
Makahiki. During this season, where all is upside down, ‘strangers’ are
afforded the privileges of ‘natives.’

Even if Cook knew that his return in February now
coincided with the new season of war, he may not have realised how deeply
implicated his ships had become in the everyday cosmology of Hawai‘i. Cook’s
changed cultural status, coupled with increasing reports of poor British
behaviour, pushed Hawaiians to show their fresh displeasure with him. During
one of many minor altercations, they stabbed and clubbed the captain to death.

Later commentators thought John Webber’s depiction showed Cook trying to
halt British violence. Officer reports at the time suggest, though, that he was
trying instead to call in the boat to 


Looking closer at Webber’s image, do you think Cook is gesturing to stop the violence or to call the nearby boat for rescue?

What is cosmology?

Is cosmology a type of law or belief?

How and why did the nature of contact between the Hawaiians and Captain Cook change from first to second encounter?

What led Cook to explore the region?

Going Further

Is cosmology unique to Hawaii or might cosmology also be found in other cultures around the world?

How was Cook’s encounter with the Hawaiians similar to or different from British encounter with Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples?

Research the artist, John Webber, who is responsible for the depiction of The Death of Captain Cook, 1784.

Did Webber witness Cook’s death? Did Webber create any other paintings or illustrations of Cook’s explorations?

What was Webber’s relationship with Cook?

Captain James Cook (1837) by Nathaniel Dance, William Holl (engraver) and Fisher, Son & Co London (publisher)National Portrait Gallery

Captain Cook and Mai

In the year 1722, two voyages were commissioned by the
British government to circumnavigate as far south towards the Antarctic for
purposes of discovering the elusive land known as the Great Southern Continent.
The Resolution, captained by James
Cook and the companion ship the Adventure captained by Lieutenant
Furneaux, both set sail from Plymouth
Sound, England, in July of 1722 traversing down the west coast of Africa to the
Cape of Good Hope and beyond to Antarctica. Following a treacherous journey
across the Antarctic Circle, the first trip of its kind, both ships reached the
southern tip of New Zealand in March 1733.

Both ships sailed north arriving in Tahiti in August 1773, welcomed by the chief of Matavai Bay area, Tu.

In September they sailed on calling into the islands of Huahine and Ra’iatea. It was in Huahine that Cook met a young man named Mai.

Omai, A Native of Ulaietea (1774) by Nathaniel Dance and Francesco Bartolozzi (engraver)National Portrait Gallery

His British friends misunderstood his name to be Omai, which ran together his formal presentation as ‘O Mai’.

Born into the middling classes on the sacred island of Ra‘iatea, Mai (c.1753–c.1779) was ten years old when Bora Borans invaded his island and forced his family to flee to Tahiti.

His father was killed in the battle, and forever afterwards Mai sought to reclaim his ancestral lands and inheritance. As a teen, he witnessed the arrival Samuel Wallis’s Dolphin voyage of 1768, and he later followed the crew of Cook’s Endeavour expedition when it toured in 1769 (though none remembered meeting him then).

When Mai met Cook he put into train a long-hatched plan to befriend the British crew and travel with them to their homeland to acquire some of the notorious weaponry he had previously seen Britons use.

He believed British arms could help him regain Ra‘iatea. Cook was reluctant to take Mai, doubting he was quite the high-born chiefly example that would best represent Pacific Islanders back home.

But by the time Cook’s two vessels departed Huahine, Mai had won over most of the able-seamen and officer Tobias Furneaux convinced Cook that Mai would be helpful as well as boost morale.

During Mai’s time in Britain, he quickly charmed the aristocratic elite with his quick wit and exotic good looks.

He sat for many artists, including the Royal Academician Nathaniel Dance.

In Dance’s portrait, Mai carries a feather necklace and a wooden stool from home.

He later gifted this stool to his voyager friend Tobias Furneaux, whose descendants in turn sold it in 1986 to the Musée de Tahiti.

Dance depicted Mai in tapa cloths and with tattooed hand-markings similar to those shown in Joshua Reynolds’s portrait.


How did British exploration in the Pacific region directly impact upon Mai’s life?

How do you think Mai felt as he set sail for Britain?

How do you think Mai felt upon returning to his homeland in Huahine after 3 years in British company?

Furneaux’s family returned Mai’s stool to a museum in Tahiiti in recent years.

Why was this an important gesture?

Going Further

How is the act of ‘repatriation’ a step forward for relations between nations?

Research example cases of Australian and Torres Strait Islander artefacts that have been repatriated to their rightful communities.

Sir Joseph Banks (circa.1788) by John R. Smith after Benjamin WestNational Portrait Gallery

Banks and Mai

Mai had joined the expedition in Huahine in the Tahitian archipelago because he sought British arms to avenge the Bora Boran takeover of his father’s land in Ra‘iatea. Though Cook was reluctant to Mai joining his voyage he approved because Mai promised insider knowledge and comraderie for the rest of the Pacific tour. Cook also knew that the naturalist Joseph Banks, back home, yearned to examine a Pacific Islander ‘specimen.’ Banks assumed responsibility for Mai’s stay as soon as the Islander disembarked in London. Banks introduced him to King George III and accompanied him on trips to various English towns. Banks’s fascination dulled after some months, however, and he set Mai up in a house of his own by early 1775. In 1776, Mai boarded the Resolution, Cook’s third voyage, returning to Huahine in August 1777. It is said that he was ‘settled’ with a European style house, furniture, vineyard and Maori boys as servants.

William Hodges RA (1808 (dated 1810)) by George Dance and William Daniell (engraver)National Portrait Gallery

Hodges and Mai

William Hodges travelled to the
Pacific as the artist accompanying Cook’s second voyage. A London-born blacksmith’s
son, Hodges trained first at William Shipley’s drawing school, and then as an
apprentice to the landscape painter and Royal Academician, Richard Wilson.
Hodges brought to the Pacific both excellent skills and a neoclassical
landscape-painter’s sensibility. He drew some of the portraits of the key
Pacific Islanders of the late eighteenth century. Hodges also no doubt
introduced Cook to the language of eighteenth century aesthetics, which the
captain found eh needed to sue when confronting the sublime vistas of the
southern hemisphere. Upon first seeing an iceberg, for instance, Cook opined
characteristically that ‘the whole exhibits a view which can only be described
by the pencle of an able painter and at once fills the mind with admiration and

Hodges friend and fellow Royal Academician, architect George Dance, sketched his portrait sometime during Hodges’ final years.

Omai, William Hodges RA and J. Caldwell (engraver), 1777, From the collection of: National Portrait Gallery
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William Hodges’ sketch of Mai was to be one of the closest likenesses of Mai undertaken by a British artist.

Hodges depicts Mai as a source of fascination – a ‘noble savage’; a ‘man in the state of nature’.


Why did early explorers depict native cultures in an idealised way?

According to the French philosopher, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, “the noble savage is an individual living in a ‘pure state of nature’—gentle, wise, uncorrupted by the vices of civilization.”

Was Mai perceived as a Noble Savage? How and why?

Going Further

Explore the concept of the ‘Noble Savage’

In what way does the Noble Savage symbolise freedom?

Did encounters with native cultures satisfy or fuel modern man’s disillusioned with civilised society?

Vue d’une partie de la meridianale et de la ville de Sydney, prise du côte du nord (1824) by Victor Pillement and François Denis Née (engravers) after Charles- Alexandre LesueurNational Portrait Gallery

Sydney Cove

The first colony was established at Sydney Cove by Captain Arthur Phillip, who, upon following orders from the British Home Office in 1786, captained the first fleet from Portsmouth, England, to New South Wales. The fleet of 11 ships – 6 carrying convicts, 3 store ships and 2 navy vessels, arrived into Botany Bay on 18 January of 1788 with more than 1480 men, women and children aboard.

Not satisfied with the site recommended by Joseph Banks, on the 21st January, Captain Phillip sailed a little further north of Botany Bay finding a cove which he would name Sydney Cove in honour of the British Home Secretary, Lord Sydney (1733-1800).

On the 26th of January Captain Phillip sailed into Sydney Cove aboard HMS Supply along with the 11 ship which made up the first fleet, and raised the British flag to proclaim the colony of New South Wales. He quickly set about establishing the first European settlement in Australia at Port Jackson.

Vue d’une partie de la meridianale et de la ville de Sydney, prise du côte du nord, Victor Pillement and François Denis Née (engravers) after Charles- Alexandre Lesueur, 1824, From the collection of: National Portrait Gallery
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Significant in European historical consciousness as the centre of the colony’s early political and social life, the site holds equally potent, alternative associations for descendants of the Eora, emblematising dispossession.

First Government House was the site of Bennelong’s and Colebee’s captivity, and that of Arabanoo (c.1760-1789) who was abducted in December 1788 in the first of Phillip’s attempts to ‘conciliate the affections’ of the locals.

Vue d’une partie de la meridianale et de la ville de Sydney, prise du côte du nord, Victor Pillement and François Denis Née (engravers) after Charles- Alexandre Lesueur, 1824, From the collection of: National Portrait Gallery
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This depiction of Sydney Cove by Charles-Alexandre Lesueur was much along the lines of other imagery produced throughout this period of New South Wales.

Akin to propaganda, imagery such as Lesueur’s demonstrated to European audiences the degree to which a purportedly ‘savage’, wild place had been tamed with order and civility.


The action of raising the British flag to proclaim the colony of New South Wales was deeply traumatic for Indigenous peoples both then and now. Discuss in terms of the inter-generational transmission of trauma.

Why did Captain Arthur Phillip seek to conciliate the affections of the locals? What alternative means could the new arrivals have employed when seeking to negotiate with the locals?

Going Further

What are some of the long-term effects of colonisation on present day Indigenous Australians? Discuss in terms of culture and lifestyle.

Arthur Phillip Esq., Captain General and Commander in Chief in & over the territory of New South Wales (1789) by Francis Wheatley and W Sherwin (engraver)National Portrait Gallery

Phillip and Bennelong

A diligent and honest officer, Arthur Phillip
(1738–1814) has been noted for his efforts in fashioning friendships with the
Aboriginal people, efforts which are cited as indicative of his obedience to
orders as well as his tolerance and sensitivity. So observant was Phillip of
the instruction to establish amicable relationships with Aboriginal people
that, when the usual gifts and other peaceful attempts at fostering interaction
failed, he resorted to kidnapping locals. The intention of this strategy was
that, through gentle treatment and instruction in English, the captives would
come to understand – and relate to their communities – the benefits of contact
with the strangers. The plan was put into effect in December 1788 when a man
named Arabanoo was lured into a boat at Manly Cove and removed to the British
encampment, remaining there for five months until succumbing to smallpox in the
outbreak of 1789. In November of that year – the settlement hungry, desperate
and seemingly left for dead – the governor again ordered the abduction of
Aboriginal men ‘for the purpose of knowing’, as marines officer Watkin Tench
phrased it, ‘whether or not the country possessed any resources by which life
might be prolonged’. Lieutenant William Bradley, one of the men involved in
accomplishing this plan, described as ‘by far the most unpleasant service I
ever was order'd to Execute’ his part in the capture of Colebee and Bennelong.
Like Arabanoo, these men were baited with gifts of fish before being ‘seiz’d’
and taken to the governor’s house to be shaved, bathed, clothed and shackled.

It was in the years following such transactions and what is called the ‘coming in’ of Aboriginal people to the settlement that the most significant early Australian portraits were made.

As with the mapping and naming of land and water, portraiture was part of the classification process.

The images created by the colony’s first artists make it possible to see this ordering at work and make tangible the trust and inquisitiveness that characterised first contact.

Portrait of Bennilong, Native of New Holland (c. 1798) by an unknown artistNational Portrait Gallery

Woollarawarre Bennelong (c.1764–1813) was a young man when he encountered Britain’s first fleet in Warrane.

He was then a rising warrior of the Wangal Eora, whose land flanked the southern side of the Parramatta River from present-day Darling Harbour to Homebush Bay.

In November 1789, Bennelong and another man, Colebee, were captured upon the orders of Governor Arthur Phillip, who was under instruction to establish workable relations with Indigenous locals. Colebee soon escaped, but Bennelong remained for a while. He studied Phillip’s language and mannerisms for several months before also leaving the fledging colony.

Phillip was disconsolate at this departure, reflecting in a letter to the naturalist Joseph Banks, ‘I think that Man’s leaving us proves that nothing will make these people amends for the loss of their liberty.’

Bennelong, however, orchestrated a reunion with Phillip which did make some amends – at least for his original kidnapping.

In September, 1790, in today’s Manly Cove, Bennelong ordered a spear attack on Phillip, just as Phillip had arranged for his capture two years earlier. Phillip survived, declining to issue reprisals. For the rest of Phillip’s tenure, relations between the British and the Eora peoples gradually improved.

Bennelong’s unlikely friendship with Governor Arthur Phillip saw him and his kinsman Yemmerrawanne travel to England in 1792. Some five years after his return to Australia, Bennelong led a clan of approximately 100 people who lived west of Ryde along the Parramatta River.

He died a respected man at age fifty in January 1813.

'The remarkable story of Woollarawarre Bennelong is one that resonates deeply. He was a traditional man who was, against his initial will, shown a European way of life, and became an intermediary between his clan and the colonialists … The question of how we move forward while still being connected to our culture and heritage has inspired much of my life’s work. Bennelong is in all of us, as we navigate the ancient and modern elements of our lives.'

- Stephen Page, Yugambeh man and Artistic Director for Bennelong,Bangarra Dance Theatre, 2017


How was portraiture seen as a classification process?

Discuss the different ways which the British dispossessed the locals.

How is Woollarawarre Bennelong’s story remarkable? What can we learn from his bravery in the face of dispossession?

Going Further

Reflecting on the comments from the Artistic Director of Bangarra Dance Theatre, Stephen Page, regarding Woollarawarre Bennelong’s life, how does Bennelong live on in all of us; in all Australians?

David Collins Esq (1804) by Anthony Cardon (engraver) after John T. BarberNational Portrait Gallery

Collins and Bennelong

David Collins (1756–1810) was the
first judge of the British colony at New South Wales. Although mostly occupied
in NSW with administering English law to the convicts and officers, Collins
also spent time observing the Indigenous locals—especially Bennelong and
Colebee. He recorded Bennelong’s relaxed disposition as he boarded the vessel that
would take Bennelong and Phillip to Britain in 1792. By the time Bennelong
returned with the next governor, John Hunter, in 1795, the colony had, by
Collins’ own admission, descended into “open war” with the Indigenous people.
Collins was nonetheless surprised that Bennelong chose to leave it entirely
after a further few years. “Instead of … shewing the least gratitude for the
attentions which he received from every one,” Collins spluttered in disbelief,
the Eora man “preferred the rude and dangerous society of his own countrymen.”
Collins later served as the first Lieutenant Governor of Van Diemen’s Land.
This stipple engraving by Anthony Cardon is a copy of a painting by the
London-based miniaturist and entrepreneur John Barber.


Why did Bennelong return to his own country-men rather than to the gentile society to which he had been introduced?

Tierra de Diemen, Navigation. Vue de la Cote orintale de l’ile Schouten (1824) by Charles Francois Fortier (1775-1835) after Charles-Alexandre Lesueur (1887-1846)National Portrait Gallery

‘lutrawita’ is the word for Tasmania in palawa

Endorsed by Napoleon, Baudin was tasked with a survey of the Australian coast and was also under instruction to make detailed observations of natural history and Aboriginal people. 


Tierra de Diemen, Navigation. Vue de la Cote orintale de l’ile Schouten 1824, Charles Francois Fortier (1775-1835) after Charles-Alexandre Lesueur (1887-1846), 1824, From the collection of: National Portrait Gallery
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This image appears in the ‘Atlas Historique’ accompanying the revised and expanded second edition of Voyage de Decouvertes aux Terres Australes, the official account of the expedition conducted by cartographic surveyor and naturalist, Nicholas Baudin (1754–1803), from 1800 to 1804.

Endorsed by Napoleon, Baudin was tasked with a survey of the Australian coast and was also under instruction to make detailed observations of natural history and Aboriginal people.

Tierra de Diemen, Navigation. Vue de la Cote orintale de l’ile Schouten, Charles Francois Fortier (1775-1835) after Charles-Alexandre Lesueur (1887-1846), 1824, From the collection of: National Portrait Gallery
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The creator of this scene, Charles-Alexandre Lesueur, was one of two draughtsmen (the other being Nicolas-Martin Petit) who joined the voyage as assistant gunners, but who were elevated to official artist roles six months into the voyage.

Petit made mainly portraits, while Lesueur focused more on topographical and natural history illustration. The Atlas contains fourteen of Petit’s portraits, including this portrait of Gnoung-gnoung-a Mour-re-mour-ga (dit Collins), (1807-17), along with Lesueur’s images of images of species including the wombat, spotted quoll, platypus, cassowary and bluebottle; and illustrations of artefacts such as kelp water-carriers, fish traps and canoes.

Nicolas Baudin, Capitaine de Vaisseau. Commandant I'Expedition pour le tour due Monde et Specialement relatif aux Sciences et auz Arts, entreprise en I'An gme, 1800 (1800) by François Bonneville (engraver) after Joseph JauffretNational Portrait Gallery

Following several previous French expeditions, Baudin set sail with two ships – Le Géographe and Le Naturaliste – and twenty-two scientists, to map stretches of Australia’s western and southern coastline and Tasmania. Along the way, he collected many specimens for classification and documented the cultures of Indigenous Tasmanians.

In 1802, Baudin’s expedition crossed paths with that of English navigator Matthew Flinders at Encounter Bay, South Australia. The following year, on his homeward journey to France, Baudin died at Mauritius.

Although the purpose of Baudin’s survey was scientific, the journey was sufficient to encourage further French expeditions to explore the viability of colonising Western Australia.

Gnough-a-Gnough ((1807-17)) by Nicolas-Martin PetitNational Portrait Gallery

Gnung-a Gnung-a Murremurgan, or Anganángan (d. 1809) was later dubbed ‘Collins’ by English colonists after he befriended and exchanged names with David Collins, the colony’s judge advocate.

Gnung-a Gnung-a was married to Bennelong’s younger sister, Warreeweer (Wariwéar). While Bennelong was in England during 1793 and 1794, Gnung-a Gnung-a voyaged across the sea on the store ship HMS Daedalus to Norfolk Island, Nootka Sound (Vancouver) and Hawaii, where Hawaiian King Kamehameha vainly offered canoes, weapons and other valuable items in exchange for him.

In December 1795 Gnung-a Gnung-a was seriously wounded by a spear in the back, thrown by Pemulwuy. He survived by careful treatment from his wife, but died some fourteen years later in Sydney.

Gnung-a Gnung-a is often mentioned in Collins’s An Account of the English Colony in New South Wales, his namesake describing the warrior and voyager as ‘much esteemed by every white man who knew him, as well on account of his personal bravery, of which we had witnessed many distinguishing proofs, as on account of a gentleness of manners which strongly marked his disposition’.


How might Petit’s image be referenced as evidence of Indigenous cultural practices?

Why was it important to create topographical/natural history illustrations and document the flora and fauna of the region?

Truggernana, a native of southern part of V.D. Land (1835) by Benjamin DuterrauNational Portrait Gallery

Trukanini and Woureddy

Benjamin Duterrau, who arrived in
Tasmania in 1832 at the age of 65, created the first Australian history
paintings with his images celebrating George Augustus Robinson's conciliatory
relocation project. Here we see Duterrau’s depictions of
Trukanini, arguably the nineteenth century’s most celebrated Indigenous leader,
and her husband Woureddy, a skilled hunter, boat builder and renowned
storyteller who spoke five dialects.

Daughter of Mangana, chief of the Recherche Bay people, Trukanini experienced the loss of her mother, sister and intended husband – all as a result of white violence – at a young age.

Believing that she might help protect her people, she participated in the series of incursions conducted between 1830 and 1835 by Robinson, a free settler appointed to effect the removal of Tasmania’s Indigenous population. This series of expeditions, collectively known as the Friendly Mission, was a strategy conceived by the colonial government for the supposed protection of Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal communities alike however, in reality, Aboriginal tribes were persuaded into banishment.

Woureddy, a wild native of Brune Island (1835) by Benjamin DuterrauNational Portrait Gallery

Exiled to Wybalenna, a mission station on Flinders Island, in 1835, Trukanini and her husband Woureddy, both held to their traditional ways, refusing to adopt European diet or dress and maintained practices such as the use of ochre for hair and beard, despite the expectation that Aboriginal people would adopt European customs and religion.

Many died at Wybalenna while waiting for fulfilment of the promise that they would be allowed to return to their traditional lands.


What traditional practices were taken away from Indigenous people as result of the removal from their homeland to Wybalenna?

What impact did this have on Indigenous culture?

Bungaree, Chief of the Broken Bay Tribe, N S Wales (1830) by Charles RodiusNational Portrait Gallery

Bungaree and Flinders

Bay, New South Wales

Bungaree (c.1775-1830) diplomat, voyager and navigator, was a Garigal man from Broken Bay, New South Wales. Bungaree arrived in Sydney in the 1790s and made his first foray as a seafarer when he joined the Reliance for a journey to Norfolk Island in 1798.

There he met navigator, Matthew Flinders, who in 1799 enlisted Bungaree for a six-week voyage north to Hervey Bay and Bribie Island. Bungaree sailed with Flinders again in 1802 as a member of the Investigator expedition, Flinders later describing Bungaree as ‘a native, whose good disposition and manly conduct attracted my esteem.’ 

Captain Matthew Flinders RN, an unknown artist and Joyce Gold Naval Chronicle Office (publisher), 1814, From the collection of: National Portrait Gallery
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On both voyages, Flinders was reliant on Bungaree’s skills as negotiator and his knowledge of Aboriginal protocols.
Around 1804, Bungaree settled on the north shore of Sydney Harbour.

Governor Macquarie also valued Bungaree’s skills as an intermediary and set aside land for him and his people near present-day Mosman, issuing them with farm equipment, clothing and a fishing boat to encourage the adoption of ‘civilised’ ways.

Gooseberry, widow of King Bungaree (1836) by William FernyhoughNational Portrait Gallery

Bungaree had many wives, one of whom was Cora Gooseberry. Cora Gooseberry (c. 1777–1852) was born Car-oo or Kaaroo, the daughter of Moorooboora, leader of the Murro-Ore (Pathway Place) clan.

She originated from the Long-Bay/Maroubra area. Known to Europeans as ‘Queen Gooseberry’ or ‘Cora Gooseberry’, she was, like her husband Bungaree, one of the best known Aboriginal people in Sydney, becoming something of an identity for the government issue blanket she typically wore over her clothes and around her body. She also covered her hair with a headscarf and smoked a clay pipe.

She was a member of the ‘Sydney tribe’ who lived on the streets, this group consisting also of family members including her son Bowen Bungaree and her relative Billy Warrall or Worrall, also known as Warrah Warrah and Ricketty Dick. British newcomers called her ‘Queen of Sydney and Botany’ and or ‘Queen of Sydney to South Head’.

This lithograph of Cora Gooseberry is by silhouette artist, sketcher and draughtsman, William Henry Fernyhough (1809-49) who immigrated to Sydney in 1836. Fernyhough has also depicted Bungaree as a silhouette portrait.

Bungaree, late chief of the Broken Bay tribe, Sydney (1836) by William FernyhoughNational Portrait Gallery

Bungaree’s animated and characteristic features were captured by various artists in at least eighteen portraits and illustrations.

Charles Rodius’s lithographic print of Bungaree was produced in March 1830, only a few months after he had arrived in Sydney. The Sydney Gazette reported of the portrait that ‘we cannot forbear to say [that] it is executed in the most finished style of the art, and is, moreover, as accurate and striking a likeness as we ever saw’; while the Monitor reported that ‘Mr C Rhodius [sic] uses the lithographic Press with great skill. He has executed front and profile likenesses of Bungaree in a most superior style.’

‘Bungaree sought ways and means to provide for his family and ensure their survival. His dressing up in cast-off British military clothes and his imitation of British customs was a means to an end.’

- Dr. Keith Vincent Smith, Historian, 2018.

Vue de George’s Street à Sydney, Alexis Nicholas Nöel (lithographer) after Louis Auguste de Sainson, 1833, From the collection of: National Portrait Gallery
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Why was the adoption of civilised ways detrimental to Indigenous people?

Discuss how the issue of government blankets impacted upon the cultural traditions and practices of Indigenous people.

Self portrait (circa 1849) by Charles RodiusNational Portrait Gallery

Charles Rodius

Charles Rodius was one of a number of artists whose Australian careers commenced in convictism. German-born, Rodius had spent several years in Paris where he studied and worked as a teacher of ‘music, painting, drawing and languages in families of the first distinction’. 

He then went to London where, in 1829, he was convicted of theft and sentenced to transportation to New South Wales for seven years. In so far as it was possible for those in his predicament, Rodius was fortunate in being possessed of a skill for which there was demand in Sydney, and very soon after he arrived he was assigned to the Department of Public Works as a draughtsman.

He turned this situation to advantage, using his access to a lithographic press to create the portrait of Bungaree in early 1830 and then finding work as a drawing teacher to ‘most of the Civil and Military officers’.

He subsequently completed commissions for the free settler and ex-convict classes as well as producing prints – and portraits particularly – for the popular market. His portrait subjects include portraits of Aboriginal people from the Sydney, Broken Bay and Shoalhaven districts, which were sold ‘at such charges as will place [them] within the reach of all classes.’

'Timbere sauvage de la nouvelle galles du sud en grand costume (Relache au Port Jackson)' (1822) by Jacques Etienne Victor Arago and P Langlume (engraver)National Portrait Gallery

Arago and Timbere

Timbery (1784–1840)
was a senior Dharawal man, born at Charcoal Creek, near Wollongong, New South
Wales; he died at age 56 in 1840. Members of the Timbery family are said to
have been present when James Cook – and later Arthur Phillip – dropped anchor
in Botany Bay, and are said to have directed both captains to fresh water
sources and fishing spots. 

At a gathering in Parramatta in 1816 Timbery was named ‘King of the Five Islands’ by Governor Lachlan Macquarie. He wore a metal breastplate with the inscription ‘Joe Timbrey Chief of the Five Islands’ which after his death was lost for ninety years before being rediscovered in 1929 in an excavation site at La Perouse.

In 1951 the breastplate was acquired by the Australian Museum. The Timbery family has lived continuously in the La Perouse area, perpetuating its craft traditions. Joe Timbery was a noted boomerang and shield maker, Esme Timbery is a highly-regarded shell artist, and Laddie Timbery continues the family tradition of boomerang making and sales in the area.

The family has carefully preserved their stories of the arrival of the colonisers.

Jacques Arago (c. 1830s) by Nicolas Maurin and Alexandre Sixdeniers (engraver)National Portrait Gallery

Jacques Etienne Victor Arago (1790–1855), author, artist and explorer, travelled with Louis-Claude de Saulces de Freycinet on his 1817 voyage on the Uranie.

Dispatched to determine the shape of the earth once and for all, Uranie visited Australia, East Timor, many Pacific islands and South America before being wrecked in the Falklands in February 1820; Freycinet noted that of everyone on board, Arago was the boldest, toughest and most intelligent. In New South Wales, members of Freycinet’s expedition met the Aboriginal men associated with explorers John Oxley, Charles Throsby, Alexander Berry and others, resulting in Arago’s portraits of sitters such as the Dharawal senior men Timbery and Broughton.

Earlier in the voyage Arago had recorded the tense encounter between the expedition’s crew and the Malgana people at Cape Peron in Western Australia.

Arago also made more drawings of Indigenous Hawaiians than any other European visitor, and the voyage resulted in his best-known book, Voyage autour du monde, published soon after he returned to Paris.


How did the colonists make use of fresh water sources and fishing spots?

What long-term impact did European settlement have on the local environment and Indigenous cultural practices and traditions?

Going further

What is the significance of the environment for Indigenous groups and for the new settlers in the past and in present day?

William Barak at work on a drawing at Coranderrk (1902) by Johannes HeyerNational Portrait Gallery


Beruk (1824-1903) was a Wurundjeri man of the Woiwurrung people,
one of the five Kulin nations who see Country stretched across Narrm (Melbourne).
As a young adult, Beruk witnessed the signing of the Treaty in 1835 by which
John Batman claimed to have purchased land. One of Beruk’s uncles was a
signatory to the document, which constituted permission to reside on Country temporarily
rather than a transfer of ownership. Following the displacement of the first
peoples, Beruk became known as William Barak and was educated at the Yarra
School Mission prior to becoming a tracker in the Native Police (he later
assisted with tracking and locating the infamous Kelly Gang). Like his father
Bebejern, Beruk became ngurungaeta (clan leader) and spokesperson for his
people, taking his cultural responsibilities and duty of care as a leader

Beruk and his other displaced members of the Kulin Nations were relocated to Coranderrk Reserve in Healesville, opened by the Victorian Aboriginal Protection Board in 1863.

When Coranderrk was threatened with closure in the 1870s, Beruk successfully lead the first Coranderrk Rebellion – an early land rights movement – claiming the land for his people. Forbidden to practice his culture, Beruk recorded cultural traditions including ceremonies using the second hand paper and paints that the missionaries provided; these significant records of culture, place and connection portrayed a rich culture and strong peoples who survived despite all attempts to diminish them.

Though Beruk had no surviving children, his sister Annie Borat did, and most, if not all Wurundjeri people are descended from her.


Where were the displaced members of the Kulin Nations relocated to? Why?

Why were the aboriginal people forbidden to practise their culture? How did Beruk retain his cultural traditions?

Going further

How does Beruk’s art and life signify the meeting of Indigenous and British culture?

Ceremony (1880/1890) by Beruk (William Barak)National Portrait Gallery

Although not formally initiated, Beruk nevertheless retained clear memories and profound understanding of Woiwurrung traditions. He was the son of Bebejern and the great-nephew of Billiberi, both significant Wurundjeri elders, and in later life he became a primary informant of the pioneering anthropologists Alfred Howlitt and Lorimer Fison.

While he painted a number of landscapes and hunting and fighting scenes, the vast majority of Beruk’s 50-odd extant watercolours represent aspects of ceremony.

Recurrent features include lines of dancers in the familiar ‘shake-a-leg’ stance, with their bodies decorated in clan designs, wearing branjeps (pubic aprons) and lyre-bird-feather headdresses, and carrying waddies and boomerangs.

These dynamic figures – the twisted torso of the third figure in the second row is typically well-observed (as much as it is schematic)...

...are often contrasted with and complimented by hieratic rows of standing men and seated women beating time to the corroboree song.

Between these two groups are two firepits, and at the feet of the standing cloaked figure with clapsticks what looks like a hurricane lantern.

In his art as in his life, Beruk represents the meeting of Indigenous and British cultures.

Here, as in the work of Aboriginal artists and craftsmen in other parts of Asutralia, he has extended the traditional local palette – charcoal black, pipeclay white and red and yellow ochre – by incorporating settler materials: both bodies and blankets are highlighted with Rickett’s Landry Blue.

Ceremony with Buckley and sailing ship (1880/1901) by Yakaduna (Tommy McCrae)National Portrait Gallery

Yakaduna and Buckley

Yakaduna (born between 1820 and 1836, died 1901) was a Wahgunyah man of the Kwatkwat people whose Country stretches south of the Murray River near the junction of the Goulburn River in Victoria. Yakaduna was known by many names including Yakaduna, Tommy McCrae, Tony McCrae and Tommy Barnes. Living on Country all his life, Yakaduna grew up at a time of great change, witnessing the start of European settlement on his Country during the 1830s and the gold rush of the 1850s, and adapting to his changing landscape by working as a stockman by the 1860s.

Although life as he knew it was changing, Yakaduna continued to be a keeper of cultural practices, traditions and knowledge through his drawings. In addition to his works of hunting, fighting and ceremonies, Yakaduna also documented the relationship and stories between his people and the settlers including the story of William Buckley, an escaped convict who lived with Yakaduna’s people. Buckley was mistaken for the spirit of their Ancestor due to a spear he took from the burial site.

While Yakaduna’s drawings were in high demand and collected by settlers including Theresa Walker and Roderick Kilborn, his skills and relationships with the settlers did not exclude him from the Board for the Protection of Aborigines, nor the resulting initiatives which resulted in all of Yakaduna’s children being taken away. He passed away in 1901 at Lake Moodomere, not permitted to see or be reunited with any of his children again.

Buckley carrying a spear, meeting a group of Wathaurong people (1880/1901) by Yakaduna (Tommy McCrae)National Portrait Gallery

One group of drawings describes the story of William Buckley, the ‘Wild White Man’. Buckley was a British convict who absconded from David Collins’s abortive settlement at Sorrento in 1804 and spent the next 30 years living with the Wathaurong people around the western side of Port Phillip Bay.

Yakaduna made many drawings depicting aspects of Buckley’s story. Why Beruk focussed so intently on Buckley’s story is un known, perhaps the tale was one of those first encounter stories – like James Cook’s landings – that spread along songlines across Indigenous Australia, being variously modified along the way.

Perhaps this story of a white man entering Aboriginal society resonated strongly with a black man attempting the same transformation in reverse.

By his own account, exhausted after a long trek around the bay, Buckley had pulled a broken spear from an Aboriginal burial mound to use as a walking stick. When he met some Wathaurong shortly afterwards, they recognised the spear as belonging to their kinsman and assumed that Buckley was him resurrected (in accordance with Aboriginal beliefs) as white.

Ceremony with Buckley and sailing ship (1880/1901) by Yakaduna (Tommy McCrae)National Portrait Gallery

They named Buckley Murrangurk, meaning one who had been killed come back to life.

In his image of Buckley and his Wathaurong companions dancing, the hat, tobacco pipe and white, hairy body clearly mark Buckley as 'Other'.

But in his pose and leafy dance leggings he is fully integrated into Wathaurong social and cultural life.

Only the sailing ship in the upper left is distinctly European, though it is not clear whether it represents Collins’s Calcutta – from which Buckley had escaped – or John Batman’s Rebecca – the vessel which brought his ‘rescuers’ thirty years later.


What effects did European settlement have on the landscape?

How did Yakaduna retain his cultural heritage?

Yakaduna’s images documented hunting, fighting and ceremonial scenes as well as relationships and stories between Indigenous and first encounters with the settlers.

Who was the ‘Wild White Man’ thought to be?

What does the notion of ‘The Other’ refer to? Why is Beruk’s drawing of the ‘Wild White Man’ particularly significant?

Going further

Yakaduna demonstrated remarkable resilience in the face of Australia’s unjust assimilation policies. Research the Stolen Generation and the policies that initiated the removal of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children from their families.

How do these policies continue to impact upon Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities today?

The process of ‘Othering’ may be defined as mentally classifying a person as part of a group so as to distinguish (discriminate) that person/group as 'not one of us'.

Discuss the influence of media, politicians, etc, on this process of 'Othering'.

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