Skip to main content

Bungaree, late chief of the Broken Bay tribe, Sydney
, 1836

by William Fernyhough

lithograph on paper (sheet: 26.6 x 18.6 cm)

Bungaree (c. 1775–1830) was a key participant in several early voyages of Australian coastal exploration. A Guringai man from Broken Bay, he travelled to Norfolk Island on the Reliance in 1798 and the following year ventured as far north as present-day Brisbane with Matthew Flinders, who valued Bungaree’s ‘open and manly conduct’. In 1802, he sailed with Flinders again on the Investigator, making him the first Aboriginal person to circumnavigate Australia; and in 1817 he joined the surveying voyage led by Phillip Parker King, who considered him ‘sharp, intelligent’ and ‘of much service to us in our intercourse with the natives.’ Governor Lachlan Macquarie also valued Bungaree as an intermediary between the Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal communities and in 1815 set aside land for him and his people, issuing them with farming equipment, clothing and a fishing boat to encourage the adoption of ‘civilised’ ways. One of Sydney’s most prominent identities, Bungaree was known for his wit and mimicry, and for his practice of welcoming ships to Sydney Harbour. Consequently, he was the subject of many portraits, the majority of which show him in his cast-off military hat and jacket and wearing the breastplate – inscribed ‘Chief of the Broken Bay Tribe’ – given to him by Macquarie in 1815.

Collection: National Portrait Gallery, Canberra
Gift of Dr Robert Edwards AO 1999
Donated through the Australian Government's Cultural Gifts Program
Accession number: 1999.23.12