Skip to main content

Piper, the native who accompanied Major Mitchell in his expedition to the interior of N.S.W.
, 1836

by William Fernyhough

lithograph on paper (sheet: 28.4 cm x 20.8 cm)

More images of this artwork

Piper (life dates unknown) was a Wiradjuri man whose Country is now known as Bathurst. Piper acted as a guide, diplomat and translator for Thomas Mitchell during three major expeditions in south-eastern Australia between 1836 and 1846. Renowned for his hunting prowess and his skills as a tracker and interpreter, Piper would have witnessed the establishment of permanent routes between Sydney and Parramatta and of a route to Liverpool via the Blue Mountains. He accompanied Mitchell as he charted the Darling River to its junction with the Murray, and also chaperoned the explorers around parts of western Victoria (Mitchell named the Grampians after a mountain range in Scotland). On the conclusion of the third expedition in 1836, Piper received various gifts, including an old army coat of Mitchell’s and a hat. ‘His portrait, thus arrayed, soon appeared in the print-shops, an ingenious artist (Mr. Fernyhough) having drawn his likeness very accurately’, Mitchell wrote. However, the once positive relationship between Piper and Mitchell ultimately ended quite badly in early 1846 when Mitchell, upon learning that Piper wished to leave his fourth expedition, had him escorted back to Bathurst and incarcerated.

Collection: National Portrait Gallery
Gift of Dr Robert Edwards AO 1999
Donated through the Australian Government's Cultural Gifts Program
Accession number: 1999.23.2