Kólbe (or)                           }
Wárungin, Wángubíle } 28
Kólbi                                   }
[William Dawes, Book A, 1790: 43.1-7]


Keith Vincent Smith

Wárungin, Wángubile Kólbi was the son of Mety,  headman of a family group of Gweagal (Fire Clan), based on the south shore of Kamay (Botany Bay).

He was known to the English colonists as ‘Botany Bay Kolbi’, having exchanged names with Colebee the Cadigal, who they called ‘Cadi Coleby’. David Collins explained: ‘The natives themselves, when distinguishing between this man and another of the same name at Botany Bay, always styled him Cad-i Cole-be; Cad-i being the name of his district’.

After a battle with his enemy Mety, the Wangal leader Woollarawarree Bennelong abducted Wárungin’s ngarángaliang or younger sister, Mety’s daughter Kurúbarabúla or Go-roo-bar-roo-bool-lo (‘Two Firesticks’), from Botany Bay in November 1790. She became Bennelong’s third wife and therefore Wárungin was his brother-in-law.

According to William Dawes, Wárungin Kolbi was aged about 28 in 1791 while his wife, with a string of names: Karangarang, Wadigabú Murianang Kurut Kurut, was about 25 years old. [Book B 1791:45.4-6]. It is likely that she had exchanged names with Bennelong’s sister Carangarang.

Warími wéllambáme? – – – From whence will you return?
This, to me by Tarabílang when going towards B. Bay [Botany Bay] with him, Kolbi & Beriwáni 13th Nov.r 1791.
[William Dawes Book B 1791: 26.29, School of Oriental and African Studies, London]

On 13 November 1791 Lieutenant William Dawes trekked from Sydney Cove to Botany Bay accompanied by his friend Captain Watkin Tench and three Aboriginal guides: Kolbi (probably the Gadigal, Cadi Colebee), Tarabílong (Terribilong), a Kameygal and Beriwáni (Bereewan), a Boorooberongal man Cadi Colebee had met in April that year on an expedition to the Hawkesbury River, who became his ally.

In his journal, Sergeant James Scott wrote:

Port Jackson – July – Sunday 17th [1791]
Lt. Daws. [sic] & party made an Excurtion
to. Georges.River &.c.—

Dawes had previously, but reluctantly, gone to Botany Bay in December 1790. At first he refused to join the punitive expedition commanded by Captain Watkin Tench ordered by Governor Phillip to capture the Bijigal garadji (doctor or clever man) Pemulwuy, who had speared his game shooter John McEntire (McIntire).

McEntire, who admitted he had once fired at Aboriginal people, died suddenly on 20 January 1791.

After a talk with chaplain Reverend Richard Johnson, Dawes agreed to go, but then changed his mind. Threatened with a court-martial by the governor, he told Phillip he was ‘sorry he had been persuaded to comply with the order’.

His refusal, wrote South Australian curator and historian Philip Jones in Ochre and Rust [Wakefield Press, 2007: 342] ‘may represent the first documented act of conscience in defence of Aboriginal interests’.

At Botany Bay the English troops met Cadi Colebee, who told them Pemulwuy had fled to the south and, said Tench, ‘eat, drank and slept with us, from ten o’clock until past noon’.

Native named Ben-nel-long                                                                                                                           As painted when angry after Botany Bay Colebe was wounded.
‘Port Jackson Painter’                                                                                                                             Natural History Museum, London

In his account Tench nowhere mentions using firearms. According to David Collins, however, the marines fired on Aboriginal people they saw ‘at the head of Botany Bay, but without doing them an injury’.

But the handwritten caption to the portrait by the unknown ‘Port Jackson Painter’, now in the Natural History Museum in London, refutes this view, stating ‘Native named Ben-nel.long As painted when angry after Botany Bay Colebee was wounded’ and points to another incident concerning Warugin Kolbi that was not recorded by the First Fleet authors.

Private John Easty provides some intriguing detail.

The Morning of the 24 [December] … we went Down the Beach for abought 3 miles whaare we Saw Several of the natives by thier fires.

‘Port Jackson Painter’
Mr White, Harris & Laing with a party of Soldiers visiting Botany Bay Colebee at that Place when wounded (detail)
Watling Drawing – No 25,
Natural History Museum, London

This might refer to another art work by the ‘Port Jackson Painter’, which seems to provide a pictorial sequel to the wounding of Botany Bay Kolbi. The watercolour is captioned ‘Mr. White, Harris & Laing with a party of Soldiers visiting Botany Bay Colebee at that Place when wounded.’

It shows the three English surgeons standing in a group of Aboriginal men and women who recline around their campfire by the sea, with a detachment of armed redcoats in the background.  At right, one Aboriginal man sits apart on a log, holding a spear. Written under the log in pencil is the word ‘Colebee’, probably denoting Cadi Colebee.

As Dr. Grace Karskens points out in The Colony [Allen & Unwin, Crows Nest NSW, 2009, page 396] Surgeon White, the tall figure, is nudging an Aboriginal person with his musket . That person, a woman, is nursing a man lying on the ground, who might be the wounded Wángubile Kólbi. A child peeks out behind the couple.

There is a problem here, because Surgeon’s Mate Edward Laing arrived in Sydney long after this incident, on 14 February 1792 aboard the convict transport Pitt, bringing Major Francis Grose, commandant of the New South Wales Corps. It makes me suspect that the artist, whoever he was,  might have painted this incident later, perhaps while returning to England by ship.

The ‘Port Jackson Painter’,  or whoever wrote the caption to this image, possibly substituted Laing’s name for surgeon’s mate John Lowes, who certainly took part in the punitive expedition. Watkin Tench wrote on Tuesday 14 December 1790:

At four o’clock in the morning … we marched … the detachment consisted  besides myself, of captain Hill of the New South Wales corps, lieutenants Poulden and Dawes, of the marines, Mr Worgan and Mr Lowes, surgeons, three sergeants, three corporals, and  forty private soldiers.

Lowes returned to England in 27 March 1791 on the chartered Dutch vessel Waaksamheid, bound for Batavia (Jakarta). Also on board were Arthur Phillip’s aide Henry Waterhouse, his game shooter Henry Hacking, Captain John Hunter, Lieutenant William Bradley, Surgeon George Worgan, the artist and midshipman George Raper, midshipman Daniel Southwell, Ship’s master James Keltie and crew members of the crew of HMS Sirius, which had been wrecked at Norfolk Island.

Henry (‘Harry’) Waterhouse was charged with Phillip’s gift of  ‘a Squirrel [possum] and parrot’, sent to Lady Chatham, Mary Elizabeth Townshend, daughter of Lord Sydney and wife of John Pitt, second Earl of Chatham. The ship reached Portsmouth in April 1792.


Probably through the good offices of Cadi Kolbi, William Dawes identified and recorded his family of ‘Gwíagals’ [men] and ‘Gwíagaliangs’ [women] living on the south shore of Botany Bay

William Dawes Book B 1791:45.4-6
Vocabulary of the language of N.S. Wales, in the neighbourhood of Sydney. School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London

Gwíagals                                                 Gwíagaliángs
Kuíbal aged ———–  16                Karangarang, Wadigabú
Menamináng ————12             Murianang Kurut Kurut
Kólbi (or)                            }                    (this lady is wife to    } 25
Warungín, Wangubílyi}28              Warungín, W. Kólbi) }
Kólbi                                    }                    Kurúbarabúla ———17
Yálowe —————— 35

Dawes had been awaiting the departure of HMS Gorgon from Sydney Cove to England which was delayed until the arrival of Major Robert Ross from Norfolk Island. With Tench, Ross and other members of the First Fleet marine corps, Dawes boarded the ship, which sailed from Sydney more than a month later, on 18 December 1791, arriving at Portsmouth on 18 June 1792.
[See Keith Vincent Smith, ‘Death of a Game Shooter’, Chapter 12 in Bennelong, Kangaroo Press / Simon & Schuster, East Roseville, 2001, pages 81-90]

Dawes had applied to stay another three years in New South Wales. ‘Left to himself, I wonder if he would every have left,’ asked Inga Clendinnen. ‘His departure cost us access to the local language as it was spoken at the time of contact. It possibly cost us a brilliant ethnography …’
[Dancing with Strangers, Text Publishing, Melbourne, 2003, page 157]

His close friend Captain Watkin Tench wrote that Dawes had ‘advanced his researches beyond the reach of competition’.

‘Mr. Dawes knows something of the language of N.S. Wales’, wrote the anti-slavery philanthropist William Wilberforce to Henry Dundas in August 1794, when he recommended Dawes as the head of a school to educate both Aboriginal people and convicts in New South Wales. Dawes never returned.


In John Hunter’s An Historical Journal of the Transactions at Port Jackson … (London, 1793, page 532), Governor Arthur Phillip tells the story of a soldier lost in the bush who was rescued by Wárungin, Wángubile Kólbi.

A soldier of the New South Wales corps, going from Parramatta with some of his comrades for the purpose of procuring sweet tea [Smilax glycyphylla], left them to go after a pattegorong [kangaroo], and lost himself in the woods. After roving about for some time, he saw a number of the natives, who fled on seeing his gun, except one that had frequently visited the settlement, and was known by the name of Botany-Bay Colebe. This man joined the soldier, and was followed by one of his companions. The soldier, to gain their good-will, and in hopes of inducing them to shew him the way to Parramatta, offered them some of his cloaths, which were not accepted. He made them understand where he wanted to go, but they were on the point of leaving him till he offered his gun, which the native, who was known at the settlement, took, and then conducted him to Sydney, making him understand that Parramatta was a great way off.
When they drew near Sydney, Colebe returned the soldier his gun, and, bidding him tell Beanah  (the governor) that he was Botany-Bay Colebe, he left him, without even taking what the soldier had first offered him as a present.

Copyright Keith Vincent Smith 2019


The Lad Taiyota, Native of Otaheite, in the Dress of his country
R B Godfrey engraver, after Sydney Parkinson (c1735-1771)                                                           Journal of a Voyage to the South Seas, 1784

Keith Vincent Smith

On 13 July 1769 the Polynesian polymath Tupaia (Tupai/ Tupia) and his young servant (Taiato /Taiyota) sailed aboard HM Bark Endeavour as the ship left Tahiti.

I wanted to mark that event, 250 years ago, on the EORA• PEOPLE blog, but that day I was myself on a very different and much larger vessel in the Gulf of Finland, approaching Russia’s northern city of St. Petersburg.

Tupaia, born on the island of Raiatea about 1725, was a high priest of the Polynesian god ‘Oro, a skilled navigator, map-maker, scholar and artist. He had voyaged widely and would become a vital informant to the wealthy Joseph Banks and Lieutenant James Cook as he guided their ship through the Society Islands.

Cook navigated with his sextant, and often questioned Tupaia, who divined the path through the ocean by natural signs: movements of currents, the sun, wind, clouds and birds. Throughout the voyage he could always point in the direction of Tahiti.

Cook wrote in his journal that day (his spelling):

For some time before we left this Island several of the natives were daily offering themselves to go away with us, and as it was thought that they must be of use to us in our future discoveries, we resolved to bring away one whose name was Tupia, a Cheif and a Priest : This man had been with us the most part of the time we had been upon the Island which gave us an oppertunity to know some thing of him : we found him to be a very intelligent person and to know more of the Geography of the Islands situated in these seas, their produce and the religious laws and customs of the inhabitants than any one we had met with and was the likeliest person to answer our purpose; for these reasons and at the request of Mr Banks I received him on board together with a youg boy his servant.

In his journal, published in 1789 as A Journal of a Voyage to the South Seas, the young Scots artist Sydney Parkinson observed on 15 July 1769:

Toobaiah [Tupaia] praying in the afternoon, in the stern-windows, called out, with much fervor, O Tane, ara mai, ora mai matai ; which is to say, Tane (the god of his Morai) send to me, or come to me with a fair wind ; but his prayer proving ineffectual, he said Wooreede waow, I am angry.  However, he told us that we should have wind when the sun arrived at the meridian, and so it happened, though we did not impute to him the gift of prophecy or foresight.

While sailing on the Endeavour Tupaia learned to draw and paint on paper in the European style. Through his eyes we see the first image of an Aboriginal man in his nawi (stringybark canoe) spearing a fish at Kamay / Botany Bay in April 1770. It is, in fact, the first known illustration of any kind of fishing in this continent.

Joseph Banks noted that, although he fished with a rod, Tupaia used an unbaited lure, similar to those he would see Aboriginal fisherwomen use with handlines at Gamay (Botany Bay) in 1770 to catch albecore or warm seas tuna fish (Thunnus germo).

Banks wrote in his journal on 12 August 1769:

Many Albecores have been around the ship all the evening. Tupia took one and had not his rod broke would probably have taken many. He usd an Indian [Polynesian] fish hook made of mother of pearl so that it servd at the same time for both hook and bait.

See the pictures in my article Tupaia’s Sketchbook on the Electronic British Library website at https://www.bl.uk/eblj/2005articles/article10.html
See also Tupaia’s Lorikeet here on the EORA•PEOPLE Blog – July 14 2018.

Copyright Keith Vincent Smith 2020


Keith Vincent Smith

3 June 1769 was an important date for James Cook and Joseph Banks in mid-Pacific on board HM Bark EndeavourThe scientific observation of the transit of the planet Venus was a pivotal event in Australian history. It took James Cook to Tahiti, New Zealand and the east coast of Australia.

It resulted, in 1788, in the first European settlement in the continent and, in time, to the dispossession of its Indigenous inhabitants.

Venus Fort, Erected by the Endeavour’s People, to secure themselves during the Observation of the Transit of Venus at Otaheite, 1773
Samuel Middiman (1750-1831) after Sydney Parkinson (1745?-1771) Engraving
Plate IV in Sydney Parkinson, A journal of a voyage to the South Seas, London : Stanfield Parkinson, 1773
Rex Nan Kivell Collection NK2140/A,
nla.pic-an9308865, National Library of Australia, Canberra


‘Spearman’, 1770
Australian Aborigines and artefacts (detail)
Sydney Parkinson (c1745-1771)
Add.MSS 9345, f.14v, British Library, London



Keith Vincent Smith


On the afternoon of 28 April 1770, two Aboriginal warriors stood their ground to defend their Country when Lieutenant James Cook and an armed party of marines from the discovery ship HM Bark Endeavour landed on the south shore of a small, shallow harbour, now called Botany Bay.

They belonged to the Gweagal (‘Fire’) clan at Kundul (Kurnell) on the southeastern coast of the continent of Australia.

The English voyagers made signs that they wanted water, but the two men snatched up their fishing spears and shouted their defiance.

‘Their countenance bespoke displeasure; they threatened us, and discovered hostile intentions, often crying to us, Warra warra wai,’ wrote the young Scots artist Sydney Parkinson (c1745-1771) who accompanied Cook on his first landing.

These words, meaning ‘go away’ or ‘begone’, were the first ever spoken to the English colonists by the Indigenous inhabitants of southeastern Australia. And, it seems, spread widely.


The storeship HMS Supply, with Governor Arthur Phillip on board, went ahead of the convoy of ships that Australians call the ‘First Fleet’ and anchored at Botany Bay on 18 January 1788.

James Callum, surgeon on Supply, described the first meetings with  the Indigenous people to his brother Alexander at East Smithfield, London, in a letter from ‘Port Jackson, Sidney Cove, New South Wales’ on 12 July, 1788.

On the Supply’s entering the Bay, the alarmed Natives ran along the Beach, shouting and hallowing, seizing their wretched Canoes, and carrying them to the Woods,— together with their Fishing-tackle and Children; we brought up pretty close to the North Shore, open to the Sea,—to be seen by the Fleet, which we daily expected.—Seven of them came opposite to the Ship, brandishing their implements of War, such as Spears of an amazing length, armed with Fish-bone, Lances, Clubs, &c. &c. throwing their bodies in threatening Postures, called out in harsh notes, Warraw! Warraw! Warrawi!

Next Morning we proceeded along with the Governor to examine two Rivers, one in a North-west direction, up which we proceeded about six Miles; the other in a South-west; as we advanced up the first, numbers of Natives seemed Fishing in their Canoes, while others were employed dressing them on its Banks; they retired on our approach, Howling and Crying. – Here we first observed them to have Dogs, they are of the Wolf kind, with long shaggy Hair. When they found we passed their Canoes, &c. without injuring them, on our return down the River, they frequently appeared abreast of the Boats, calling out as usual, Warraw! Warraw !

Captain John Hunter heard the same warning cries of the Indigenous inhabitants as HMS Sirius came into Botany Bay.

The Reverend Richard Johnson, first chaplain of the colony of New South Wales, wrote to his friend Henry Fricker in Portsmouth on Sunday, 10 February 1788, describing his first meetings with the ‘natives’ on the shores of Botany Bay.
[Safe 1/121 Mitchell Library, State Library of NSW, Sydney]

They came out of the water, joined in a Body together & stood till we came up with them. As we came near them they spoke to us in a loud dissonant Manner, principally uttering these words—“Warra, Warra Wai,” which we judged to be to tell us to go away. When we came up to them, I tied some bits of cloth &c. round their heads and necks & also gave one of them a comb, at which he seemed especially pleased & astonished. Some of them then began to dance, and one of them offered me one of his fishing giggs [a fishing spear], which I refused, the Governor ordering that nothing should be taken from them.


Aboriginal people crowded the high cliffs on 26 January 1788 as the English ships sailed from Botany Bay and dropped anchor in the sheltered harbour at Warang / Sydney Cove, selected by Governor Arthur Phillip because of its trickling stream of fresh water, later called the Tank Stream. 

‘The natives on shore hollered Walla Walla Wha or something to that effect, and brandished their spears as if vexed at our approach’, wrote Robert Brown, captain of the storeship Fishburn

Lieutenant Philip Gidley King wrote in his journal:

All the natives which were seen when we first arrived at Port Jackson danced violently, shouting ‘woroo woroo, go away’.


In a letter dated  23 June 1788 Daniel Southwell wrote from Sydney Cove to his uncle, the Reverend Weeden Butler, who lived in Chelsea, London.
[Daniel Southwell, Journal, Historical Records of NSW, Vol 2, 692.17]

On June 23d, at 4 p.m. per log, there was felt the gentle shock of an earthquake, and the appearance of the country warrants an opinion that it has been subject to very severe ones. The King’s birthday was celebrated with great state and solemnity, and large bonfires— we had plenty of wood — were burning all night.
The ships saluted at sunrise, noon, and sunset, which must have frightened the warra warras, for so we call the blacks, from their constant cry of “warra warra” at everything they see that is new.

In a letter to his father from Port Jackson dated 12 July 1788, but referring to 21 January, Midshipman Newton Fowell said of the Indigenous People:

… they speak very Loud and mostly all together very often Pronouncing the Words Worra Worra Wea & seemed quite surprized at not being answered.


The 16-gun brig Mercury, 152 tons, commanded by Captain John Henry Cox (c1770-1791), anchored off Maria Island in north-east Van Diemen’s Land (Tasmania) on 10 July 1789.

The deep, sheltered bay, called Dray.ter by the Indigenous clans of the Paredarerme, was renamed Oyster Bay by Cox.

Mercury Passage, between Maria Island and the Tasmanian coast, takes its name from the ship, then filled with a cargo of 1,000 seal skins obtained at Amsterdam Island (now Île Amsterdam, a French possession), an extinct volcano in the southern Indian Ocean, some 4180 kilometres southwest of Perth, Western Australia.

The story of Cox’s meeting with a group of men and women from the Oyster Bay Tribe (as they were later called) was told by Marine Lieutenant George Mortimer in this extract from his book Observations and Remarks made on a voyage to the north west coast of America, &c, published in London in March 1791. Yes, there it is, at the bottom of page 19 – Indigenous people repeating the words ‘Warra, Warra, Wai’ as they backed away from the strangers.

Terra de Diéman
Claude-François Fortier after Charles-Alexandre Lesueur (1788-1846)
Hand-coloured engraving
Atlas, Voyage de découvertes aux terres australes, Paris 1807

In 1802 Louis Claude de Freycinet, a naval officer and naturalist with the French Baudin expedition, saw and measured the unique water craft illustrated here. These canoes were four metres long and made from bundles of reeds tied with bark cord. The Oyster Bay people, who called them ningher,  used them to cross from the mainland to Maria Island when the sea was calm.

He wrote:

Five or six natives (naturales) can get into these canoes but generally the number is limited to three or four at a time. Their paddles are simple sticks … We saw them crossing the channel only in fine weather … They always place a fire at one end of their canoes, in order to prevent fire from spreading, they place underneath it a sufficiently thick bed of earth or cinders … They use nothing but a kind of reed that grows in abundance at Oyster Bay.

Swan River, 50 miles up, 1829
J.W. Huggins, from a sketch by J.R. Clause, surgeon on HMS Success.


Captain Charles Howe Fremantle and his crew reached the Swan River in southwestern Australia aboard HMS Challenger on 25 April 1829. This was the country of the Noongar.

The ship’s boats set out to explore the river and crossed the sandbar near the entrance. They rowed on further before they saw (and were seen by) Indigenous people on both sides of the river. What did these people call out to them? Fremantle recalled:

[They] halload’d to us very loud and appeared to cry “Warra, Warra,” which I supposed to be “go away”. I took no notice.

Next day after a friendly meeting with a group of Noongar:

We saw a Native with a firebrand in one hand and two spears in the other, shouting Warra Warra and pointing to the shore where the boat was, desiring us to go away.

This time Captain Fremantle decided to go no further. He established a tent camp on the banks of the Swan River and in May there were friendly exchanges with the Noongar, who brought fire, spears, stone knives and some rather sandy fish which they exchanged for the foreigners ‘mutton, tongue, biscuit, and some fish which we had caught.’

In November 1829 the first free settlers arrived in the Parmelia and Fremantle and Perth were established not much later.

Walyalup (Fremantle) was named by the Nungar, perhaps for ‘the place of the Walyo or Woylie’, a tiny kangaroo rat once common in the sandhills there.

Thanks to Jeremy Steele for comments and corrections.
Copyright Keith Vincent Smith 2020


Goosberry. Widow of King Bungaree. NSW
W. H. Fernyhough
Pen and ink
PXB207, Mitchell Library, Sydney

Her lithe ladyship, the swarthy spouse of Prince Bungaree … threw a spear seven feet in length, to the distance of 120 yards [metres]
Captain John Norton, 1860

Keith Vincent Smith

Lieutenant John Norton of the British Army 34th Regiment was detached from his regiment to guard the transport ship Baring, carrying 300 male convicts, which anchored at Sydney Cove on 7 September 1815. His caution to ‘All Persons … against giving any credit to the Soldiers of the 34th Regt.’ appeared in The Sydney Gazette on 16 September 1815.

While based at the Military Barracks, a site now occupied by Sydney’s Wynyard Railway Station, Norton was given a demonstration and lessons in throwing the ‘Australian war-spear’ by Cora Gooseberry, wife of the Broken Bay leader Bungaree.

Norton left Sydney for Calcutta on the Baring in November 1816 and was promoted to Captain in 1825.

Stationed in South India, Norton saw tribesmen using blow-pipes. He noticed that the darts they used had a base of pith or spongy wood, which expanded when the pipe was blown, forming a tight seal that prevented air leaks. Norton copied this idea and in 1832 invented a cylindrical bullet with a hollow base, a prototype of the modern bullet.

That same year, 1832, ‘Capt. Norton, late 34th regiment’, donated ‘The Bome-rang, or Magic Stick, of New South Wales’ to the Naval and Military Museum in London, an artefact he no doubt acquired from Karoo or Cora Gooseberry.

John Norton was living near the Rosherville Gardens, on the Thames near Gravesend in Kent in 1860 when he published his memoirs in book titled A List of Captain Norton’s Projectiles, and his Other Naval and Military Inventions.


Norton wrote (page 67):

In the Autumn of 1815, being on military duty at Sidney [sic], New South Wales; I was instructed by the swarthy lady of the native Chief Bungaree, in the art of throwing the Australian war-spear, and I found that when I fully acquired the art, I could throw a light bamboo spear six feet [3 metres] long, to the distance of 170 yards; finding the practice conducive to opening the chest, causing the attitude to be erect, and giving muscle to the sword-arm; I am anxious to introduce the exercise of throwing the spear in the “Bat and Ball,” Cricket Ground, in Gravesend; and shall give three prizes of one pound to the adult who shall first throw his spear to the distance of 150 yards [metres]; ten shillings to the youth who shall first throw his spear to the distance of 70 yards; and five shillings to the boy who shall first throw his spear to the distance of 70 yards. All this is quite practicable. Her lithe ladyship, the swarthy wife of Prince Bungaree, when instructing me in the barrack square, at Sidney, threw a spear seven feet [about 2 metres] in length, to the distance of 120 yards.

In the year 1815 Governor Lachlan Macquarie set up Bungaree and his people at Georges Head (now Mosman) in the hope they would settle and farm the land. He also presented him with a fishing boat and a breastplate or gorget engraved with the words:

Chief of the

John Norton’s spear-throwing sessions with Cora Gooseberry in 1815 mark the earliest description of her frequenting the streets of Sydney, a practice she kept up for many years after Bungaree’s death in 1830.

Copyright Keith Vincent Smith 2020


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


Matthew Flinders, c 1801
Unknown artist
Watercolour miniature on ivory
Mitchell Library Sydney

Keith Vincent Smith

The recent discovery in London of the coffin and remains of Captain Matthew Flinders among 40,000 graves buried beneath Euston Street Station sent a frisson  of excitement through British and Australian nautical history buffs.

Flinders, born at Donington in Lincolnshire in 1774, died at the age of 40 on 19 July 1814 and was buried in the graveyard of St. James’s Church on 24 July.

But are the skeletal remains in the coffin those of Matthew Flinders?

Anthony J. Brown in Ill-starred Captains: Finders & Baudin, Fremantle Press, North Fremantle, 2000, page 478, wrote:

Matthew Flinders, neglected in death as in life by his countrymen, had his grave destroyed and the contents ‘carried away as rubbish’ within forty years of his burial.

‘No man knows exactly where his bones were laid’ wrote Ernest Scott in The Life of Captain Matthew Flinders R.N., Angus & Robertson, Sydney 1814. In 1912 the vicar of St. James’s stated that the entry in the burial register was written, by a clerical error, in the name of ‘Captain Matthew Flanders, aged 40′.

Anthony Brown’s assertion (above) is derived from remarks by Flinders’ daughter, Mrs. Petrie, quoted by Scott [pages 396-7]:

Many years afterwards my aunt Tyler went to look for his grave, but found the churchyard remodelled, and quantities of tombstones and graves with their contents had been carted away as rubbish, among them that of my unfortunate father, thus pursued by disaster after death as in life.

To me and many other students of Indigenous history the news about Flinders grave  immediately evokes the memory of Bungaree, the Garigal leader from Broken Bay, north of Sydney, who sailed on HMS Investigator with Flinders, who described him as a ‘worthy and brave fellow’. On that voyage in 1802-3 Bungaree became the first Australian to circumnavigate our continent.

In the early nineteenth century Bungaree was one of Sydney’s most colourful characters. Intrigued by his adventurous early years as a voyager and mediator on English sailing ships, I wrote King Bungaree, published by Kangaroo Press in 1992. You will see various references to him on this website.

Bungaree meets
Keith Vincent Smith
at Mosman Town Hall

There is one statue of Bungaree in Sydney.

Bungaree was honoured with a bust outside the Mosman Town Hall in Sydney by Indigenous sculptor Laurie Nilson.  He faces a similar bust of Archibald Mosman, for whom the area is named. See my speech at the unveiling of the bust in 1999 on the file titled Personal on this website.

In 1820 Phillip Parker King, captain of HMS Mermaid, named Bungaree Island,  in Prince Frederick Harbour, off the north-west Kimberley coast in Western Australia.

Ships and ferries (as well as racehorses) were named after Bungaree. In 1890 the steam collier SS Bungaree completed the voyage from London to Sydney in 42 days and 11 hours.

A coastal cargo ship called the Bungaree, built in 1937, was taken over by the Royal Australian Navy in 1940 and converted to a mine loader, HMAS Bungaree.

After the war in 1946 the ship was decommissioned at Garden Island in Sydney Harbour. Bungaree Shoals, in Torres Strait, was named after this wartime vessel. Renamed Eastern Mariner, she struck a mine and sank in the Saigon River in South Vietnam in 1966.

Moowattin Creek and the Cataract of Carrung-Gurring
Detail from Atlas, Matthew Flinders
A Voyage to Terra Australis, London 1814

I believe that Daniel Moowattin, the young Burramattagal man who became the third Indigenous Australian to visit Britain, met Matthew Flinders on a visit to Sir Joseph Banks at his home in Soho. On Sunday 12 May 1811, Flinders, then lodging at No 7 Nassau Street, London,  wrote in his journal:

Walked out in the evening. At 9, went to Sir Joseph Banks, where I met the two Daniels.

[Matthew Flinders, Private Journal, 1803-1814, 12 May 1811, MS S1/48, Mitchell Library, Sydney]

One Daniel was Banks’s colleague the botanist Daniel Solander, who collected so many new plant species at Botany Bay in April-May 1770. The other might have been Daniel Moowattin.

On Monday 27 May 1811, George Caley, Banks’s plant collector in New South Wales, who took Daniel Moowattin to England, called on Robert Brown, who took him to see Flinders. Flinders wrote in his journal that day:

Mr. Brown called in the evening, with Mr. Cayley [sic], in order to my consulting him about the parts at the back of Port Jackson …

The botanist and scientist Robert Brown had sailed on HMS Investigator with Flinders and Bungaree.

The ‘parts’ Flinders referred to appear in the chart in his Atlas of A Voyage to Terra Australis, published shortly before his death in June 1814, which identifies Moowattin Creek (now the Cataract River) and the Cataract of Carrung-gurring (Appin Falls), seen by Daniel Moowattin in 1807 when he was sent by Caley to acquire a koala as a specimen for Banks.

There is a good case for the original name to be restored. Caley told Banks in a letter that he had named the river ‘to commemorate the memory of the native to whom I am indebted for the discovery of the cataract.’
[Caley to Banks, 25 September 1807, Banks Papers, A83, vol. 20, page 281, Mitchell Library, Sydney]

In London Daniel Moowattin first met Banks, the influential President of the Royal Society, on 4 January 1811 and Robert Brown on 9 January 1811, a snowy day. On 2 February, a Saturday, Daniel Moowattin was again at Soho Square, where, wrote Caley, Sir Joseph Banks ‘questioned Dan about the Cola [koala]’.


On Monday 16 January  Daniel went to Lambeth with the gardener George Suttor to visit William Bligh, deposed as Governor of New South Wales in the famous ‘Rum Rebellion’ of 1808.

In his journal for 21 January George Caley wrote: ‘Dan went to Mr Suttor’s to Governor Bligh’s etc.’

In October 1811, Daniel and Suttor boarded the convict ship Mary at Portsmouth which arrived in Sydney on 12 May 1812. Suttor wrote in his memoirs:

I was accompanied by Dan the native (Moowattie,) who had been taken to England by my dear friend, Mr. George Caley.

Daniel ran off in two weeks from Suttor’s Chelsea House at Baulkham Hills and sold a fowling piece given to him by Robert Brown to shoot birds.

[Based on Chapter 11, ‘Daniel Moowattin in Regency London’, pp 118-134 in Keith Vincent Smith, MARI NAWI: Aboriginal Odysseys, Rosenberg, Dural, 2010. See my Australian Dictionary of Biography (ADB) entry online at


George Caley stood ready to give evidence in favour of William Bligh at the court martial at the Royal Hospital Chelsea of Lieutenant-Colonel George Johnston of the New South Wales Corps, who led the infamous 1808 ‘Rum Rebellion’ coup against Bligh.

Caley attended court every day for fourteen days, but was not called to give evidence.

I have just found a report that shows Daniel Moowattin was also in court on the third day of the hearing. He would face a more serious court in 1816, after his return to Sydney. The Globe, London, reported on 10 May 1811 (page 4):

The Court was much crowded. One of the witnesses in attendance is a native of New South Wales; he resembles a Malay, but of a darker hue, and undersized. He was brought to this country by the desire and expense of Government.

Copyright Keith Vincent Smith 2020


I was privileged to give a talk about Bungaree’s voyages and his later flamboyant life to an audience of 100 interested people, including some of his descendants, at the Pearl Beach Hall on Friday night 23 November 2018.

The following day, Saturday 24 November, marked 188 years since Bungaree’s death at Garden Island and his burial at Rose Bay in Sydney in 1830.

My book King Bungaree is long out of print and difficult to obtain. However, I can recommend an excellent new publication, Bungaree’s Mob, a thoroughly researched and accurate 50-page illustrated small book.

The first section is a valuable and informative ‘deep history’ and archaeological survey of the New South Wales central coastal area around Pearl Beach and Patonga, with an explanation of many Indigenous concepts. This would be an excellent primer for schoolchildren, students and people like me, who were taught nothing about our First People at school.

The second part, ‘Bungaree c1775-1830 & the Garigal people’ starting at page 25, picks up the ‘epic story’ of this remarkable man, with an accurate chronological account of his voyages with Matthew Flinders and later with Phillip Parker King, Australia’s first Admiral. Highly recommended.

The Wannangine of the Woy Woy Peninsula & beyond
Justine O’Brien (ed.)
2nd edition revised 2018
Pearl Beach Aboriginal History Group

Price of the booklet is $15, with postage of $3 for one copy or $5 for two copies. Send orders to pbaboriginal history@gmail.com.

Keith Vincent Smith 2020


Flying the Aboriginal flag, the gaff-rigged ketch Tribal Warrior returns to Sydney

Keith Vincent Smith

Flying the distinctive Aboriginal flag, the tiny gaff-rigged ketch Tribal Warrior set out from Gomora (Darling Harbour) in Sydney on 30 August 2001, passing under Pyrmont Bridge to the Heads at the entrance to Port Jackson into the open sea.

The timber-hulled 15 metre long former pearling lugger (Mina), launched in 1901, carried a crew of seven Aboriginal men, ranging from 17 to 45 years of age.

In a voyage lasting 648 days, they carried a message of ‘goodwill, achievement and reconciliation’ to 120 Aboriginal communities scattered along the continent’s 36,000 kilometre coastline.

This was the first circumnavigation of Australia in a sea-going vessel crewed only by Indigenous Australians.

The Tribal Warrior followed in the wake of HMS Investigator, a 52 foot sloop with a crew of 15 men. Investigator, commanded by Captain Matthew Flinders, left Port Jackson on 22 July 1802 to explore, survey and chart Torres Strait, the Gulf of Carpentaria and the north-west coast of the continent then known as New Holland.

Two Aboriginal men, Bungaree and Nanbarry, accompanied Flinders. On 18 October 1802, Nanbarry returned to Sydney from the Great Barrier Reef in the sloop Lady Nelson.

As all the others on the ship were British, Bungaree, the Broken Bay leader, became the first known Australian to circumnavigate the continent.

Investigator returned to Sydney on 9 June 1803. Coincidentally, Tribal Warrior, dwarfed by the rocky headlands, got into Sydney Harbour on 10 June 2003 – just 200 years and one day after Flinders and Bungaree.

Copyright Keith Vincent Smith 2019