Skip to main content

Corroboree, or Dance of the Natives of New South Wales, 1820

Walter Preston (engraver)

engraving, hand-coloured (frame: 67.3 cm x 81.0 cm, sight: 37.8 cm x 57.0 cm)

This work depicts the ceremonial practice of corroboree by the Awabakal Aboriginal peoples of Mulubinba (Newcastle) around 1818. Awabakal senior man Burigon, also known as Long Jack or King Jack (d. 1820), is the tall, smiling figure standing second from left. James Wallis, commandant of the Newcastle penal settlement, later said he remembered Burigon ‘with more kindly feelings than I do many of my own colour, kindred and nation’, and it has since been suggested that Wallis’s good relationship with Burigon facilitated the creation of the remarkable visual records of Mulubinba and the Awabakal dating from his tenure. It is thought, for instance, that Burigon accompanied convict and artist Joseph Lycett on his sketching expeditions, giving Lycett access to scenes that would ordinarily have been closed to non-Aboriginal people. Burigon was stabbed in the course of tracking two escaped convicts, John Kirkby and John Thompson, on 27 October 1820 and suffered in pain until his death some 10 days later. Kirby was convicted of his murder and was hanged on 18 December: the first white man ever convicted and executed for murdering an Aboriginal person under British law. Thompson, however, was acquitted.

Collection: National Portrait Gallery
Purchased 2013

Accession number: 2013.27

Currently on display: Gallery Three (Robert Oatley Gallery)

Copyright image request form
Request a digital copy of an image for publication

Artist and subject

Walter Preston


Subject professions

Indigenous identity

© National Portrait Gallery 2020
King Edward Terrace, Parkes
Canberra, ACT 2600, Australia

Phone +61 2 6102 7000
Fax +61 2 6102 7001
ABN: 54 74 277 1196

The National Portrait Gallery of Australia (NPGA) 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.

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