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The National Portrait Gallery acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of Country throughout Australia and recognises the continuing connection to lands, waters and communities. We pay our respect to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures and to Elders both past and present.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander viewers are warned that this website contains images of deceased persons.

The Gallery’s Acknowledgement of Country, and information on culturally sensitive and restricted content and the use of historic language in the collection can be found here.

Mickey Johnson

c. 1896
an unknown artist

gelatin silver photograph on paper (image: 13.6 cm x 8.6 cm)

Mickey Johnson (1834-1906) was an Indigenous leader in the Illawarra district of New South Wales. Reputedly from the Clarence or Richmond River districts in northern New South Wales, Johnson moved to the Illawarra in the 1860s with his employer, landowner EH Weston. After working for Weston for several years, he left to live on an Aboriginal reserve in Kangaroo Valley with his wife, Rosie, a Dharawal woman. By 1883, he was living at a Berawurra, established by the NSW Aborigines' Protection Board at Lake Illawarra. The Board's annual report for 1894-95 noted that Johnson had instigated various improvements to the reserve. For his enterprise, he was designated 'King' of the Illawarra in a ceremony at Wollongong Showground in January 1896, and presented with a breastplate donated by a local politician. Johnson took advantage of his profile to gain influence with the non-Aboriginal community, seeking certain privileges, and speaking out on matters relating to the treatment of Aboriginal people. Some later photographs of him were made into postcards by the Government Printing Office. Moving away away from the Lake Illawarra reserve in his sixties, he died at a camp on the Minnamurra River. He was remembered in one obituary as a well-liked man who 'knew and was known by almost everybody throughout the length and breadth of the South Coast.'

Collection: National Portrait Gallery
Purchased 2010

The National Portrait Gallery respects the artistic and intellectual property rights of others. Works of art from the collection are reproduced as per the Australian Copyright Act 1968 (Cth). The use of images of works from the collection may be restricted under the Act. Requests for a reproduction of a work of art can be made through a Reproduction request. For further information please contact NPG Copyright.

Artist and subject

Mickey Johnson (age 62 in 1896)

Subject professions

Government and leadership

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The National Portrait Gallery acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of Country throughout Australia and recognises the continuing connection to lands, waters and communities. We pay our respect to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures and to Elders past and present. We respectfully advise that this site includes works by, images of, names of, voices of and references to deceased people.

This website comprises and contains copyrighted materials and works. Copyright in all materials and/or works comprising or contained within this website remains with the National Portrait Gallery and other copyright owners as specified.

The National Portrait Gallery respects the artistic and intellectual property rights of others. The use of images of works of art reproduced on this website and all other content may be restricted under the Australian Copyright Act 1968 (Cth). Requests for a reproduction of a work of art or other content can be made through a Reproduction request. For further information please contact NPG Copyright.

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