W.H. Fernyhough
Mitchell Library, Sydney

Keith Vincent Smith

The reference to the Garigal / Broken Bay leader Bungaree as ‘this enterprising Australian’ by the botanist Allan Cunningham (1791-1839) during the voyage of HM Cutter Mermaid commanded by Lieutenant Phillip Parker King first appeared in print in 1925. 

As I wrote in Keith Vincent Smith,  King Bungaree (Kangaroo Press, Kenthurst, 1992, page 98):         

After gathering botanical specimens in an area of sand and mangroves at Port Hurd on Bathurst Island on Tuesday 26 May [1818], he [Cunningham] wrote. 

During the whole of this day’s excursions I was accompanied by our worthy native chief Boongaree, of whose little attentions to me and others when on these excursions I have been perhaps too remiss in making mention, to the enhancement of the character of this enterprising Australian.

Bungaree might be the first individual to be called an ‘Australian’, but it was not the first time the name ‘Australian’ appeared in print

The quote from Allan Cunningham first appeared in a printed text in Ida Lee, Early Explorers of Australia, Methuen, London, 1925, page 391. Lee (Mrs. C.B. Mariott) seems to have been the first person to transcribe Cunningham’s Journal and to tell that story. 

In his 1818 journal, Cunningham referred to groups of Aboriginal people in the north as ‘Australians’ but did not name any other individuals apart from Bungaree.

Governor Lachlan Macquarie introduced the use of the term ‘Australia’ (not ‘Australian’) after reading Matthew Flinders’ Terra Australis (London 1814). 

In my entry about Bungaree on The Dictionary of Sydney website in 2011 I wrote:

The snub-nosed cutter Mermaid left Port Jackson on 22 December 1817, put into Twofold Bay, steered through Bass Strait, and followed the Great Australian Bight to King George Sound (Albany). On this voyage Bungaree also assisted the botanist Alan Cunningham, who called Bungaree ‘our worthy native chief’ and praised ‘the character of this enterprising Australian’, a very early use of the name.

Of course I am hunting for the first reference in print to a person described as ‘Australian’. The earliest printed mention that I can find appeared in The Sydney Gazette of Sunday 11 November 1804, page 3, in an ironic paragraph about ‘Guy Vaux’ (Guy Fawkes) Day becoming an ‘Australian fete’, but did not refer to any individual. 

Copyright Keith Vincent Smith 2019



Bone-da, a very fine youth
David Collins, Appendix V1, 1798, page 588

Keith Vincent Smith

Bunda or Bone-da, whose name was also recorded as Punda and Poondah, was the younger brother of Colebee’s wife Daringa and a half- brother of Moorooboora of the Murro-ore-dial (Pathway Place gal or clan) at present Long Bay – Maroubra. His mother Tadyera had died of dysentery.
[William Dawes, Book B, 1791:38.5]

Bunda-Bunda, meaning ‘hawk’, was also one of the names of Woollarawarre Bennelong. In later years (1901), the surveyor RH Mathews said bunda was the Angophora or ‘apple tree’.

The top of Bunda’s head had a bald patch burnt by a fire. The Eora had a word for this condition. Dawes referred to the Indigenous name in his second language notebook.

Gángat – – – – – – – – – Bald (like Punda’s head) which has been burnt
[Dawes Book B 1791. 8.12]

Bunda was one of the several boys made men in the Erah ba-diang ceremony at Wagganmagulye (Farm Cove) in 1795.

Marine Lieutenant William Dawes’s two language notebooks, now held in the School of Oriental and African Studies at the University of London, provide a revealing source of information about the Eora, whose language he recorded in sentences rather than mere word equivalents, like most other First Fleet vocabularies. 

On 27 November 1791 Dawes’s companion and language informant, the teenage girl Patyegarang (Grey Kangaroo), who sometimes corrected his translations, told him that a ‘white man’ had beaten ‘we two | Poondah (& myself understood’. She revised her reply, Dawes wrote,  to include ‘Pund˙l’ (Bundle) ‘because she had forgot that Pundul was with them, & explained herself very clearly.’
[Dawes Book B  1791:35.7-20]

In 1791, at the age of 10, Bundle or Bondel was the first Indigenous Australian to sail through the Sydney Heads on HMS Supply, bound for Norfolk Island.
[Keith Vincent Smith, Chapter 2, ‘A passage to Norfolk Island’ in MARI NAWI, Rosenberg, 2010, pp 20-22]

When Bunda died in 1796, Lieutenant David Collins, remarked he was

… a very fine youth, who lived at my house for several months, [who]  died of a cold, which, settling in his face, terminated in a mortification of his upper and lower jaws, and carried him off.

No images of Bunda have been located. 

Collins also recounts the bloody ritual revenge combat that took place after Bunda’s funeral at Pannerong, now Rose Bay, in which Daringa, Colebee and Moorooboora all punished Tar-ra-bil-long or Terribilong from the Gameygal clan on the north shore of Botany Bay.

We were told that some blood must be spilt on this occasion; but six weeks elapsed before we heard of any thing having happened in consequence of his decease. About that time having passed, however, we heard that a large party of natives belonging to different tribes, being assembled at Pan-ner-ong* (or, as it is named with us, Rose Bay), the spot which they had often chosen for shedding blood, after dancing and feasting over-night, early in the morning, Mo-roo-ber-ra, the brother, and Cole-be, another relation of Bone-da, seized upon a lad named Tar-ra-bil-ong, and with a club each gave him a wound in his head, which laid the skull bare. Da-ring-ha, the sister of Bone-da, had her share in the bloody rite, and pushed at the unoffending boy with a doo-ul or short spear. He was brought into the town and placed at the hospital, and, though the surgeon pronounced from the nature of his wounds that his recovery was rather doubtful, he was seen walking about the day following. On being spoke to about the business, he said he did not weep or cry out like a boy, but like a man cried Ki-yah when they struck him; that the persons who treated him in this unfriendly manner were were no longer his enemies, but would eat or drink or sit with him as friends.

* Pan-ner-rong in the language of the country signifies blood.

[David Collins, An Account of the English Colony in New South Wales … Appendix V1, London, 1798, page 588]

A few days after this combat, Goorobine, a kinsman of Bone-da aged about sixty, who might have been his grandfather, came into Sydney Cove with a severe head wound from another incident.

Moorooboora himself died in January 1798 as a result of one of these battles.

[For Terribilong see Keith Vincent Smith, ‘Terribilong and Tom Thumb 11’ in site, Ewen McDonald (ed.), The Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney, 2012, online at https://books.google.com.au/books?isbn=1921034564

Copyright Keith Vincent Smith 2020


Keith Vincent Smith

Many people have been complaining that there are more statues of Matthew Flinders’ cat Trim than of Bungaree, who circumnavigated Australia with Flinders (and Trim) in 1802-3.

On 21 February 1857 the  Sydney newspaper Bell’s Life alerted its readers under the heading Colonial Work of Art, to ‘a colossal figure carved from a massive block of wood’ that was ‘in a state of forwardness’ under the chisel of the sculptor Archibald Murray at his studio, No. 59 Hunter Street.

The figure is intended to represent the late King Bungaree and is accounted an admirable prototype of his departed Majesty. We understand that on the completion of the work, which is being executed by order of the Sydney Volunteer Corps, it is to be sent home [meaning to England] for presentation to her most gracious Majesty Queen Victoria. We recommend all lovers of the fine arts to pay a visit to the studio of the artist.

Mitchell Librarian Richard Neville pointed this article out to me a long ago, in fact during 2000.

Archibald Murray (1823-1885), born in Scotland, was reputed to be a skilled furniture wood carver, sculptor, gilder and picture frame maker during the 1850s. I have not been able to find any record of his Bungaree statue being sent to Queen Victoria.

On Wednesday 9 December that same year, 1857, the Sydney Morning Herald recorded the donation to The Australian Museum of the ‘skull of “King Bungaree” an Aboriginal of New South Wales. The Museum has no record of receiving the skull and it is not in its collection.

Copyright Keith Vincent Smith 2019