You can hear Ronald Briggs (April 2018 entry) talking about Nicolas-Martin Petit’s drawing of Toulgra (Bulldog) on ABC Radio Breakfast with Wendy Harmer & Robbie Buck online at http://www.abc.net.au/radio/sydney/programs/breakfast/eora-74-mix/9688184
AUSTRALIA’S FIRST LITHOGRAPH
Keith Vincent Smith
Talking to Robbie Buck and Wendy Harmer on their ABC Radio program this morning (30 May 2018), I told them about the Indigenous leader Bungaree or Boongaree, the first Australian born person to circumnavigate Australia on board HMS Investigator with Matthew Flinders in 1802-3.
Bungaree was a flamboyant figure who practically jumps out of Sydney’s colonial history. All the others on board the ship were British – a bunch of pommies! You can hear the 15-minute interview ‘EORA NATION 78: Who was Bungaree?’ It’s online at http://www.abc.net.au/radio/sydney/programs/breakfast/eora78-mix/9816146
This lithograph by the travelling artist Augustus Earle (1793-1838) was the first ever printed in Australia. In 1821 Earl obtained one of the two lithographic presses brought to New South Wales by Governor Sir Thomas Brisbane, who wanted to map the southern hemisphere stars.
Edward Smith Hall, the crusading editor of the infant Monitor newspaper, found space to mention Earle’s lithographs on 11 August 1826:
We are gratified in being able to state, that Mr. Earle, the Artist, has at length succeeded in producing several excellent specimens of the well-known Native Chief of Sydney, Bungaree, which, we understand, is intended for sale, and, as usual with Mr. Earle, at a very low price. As a first attempt of the kind in the Colony, it has been dedicated to General Darling. The likeness is faithful—and, considering the difficulties, Mr. Earle has had to contend with, great credit is due to that gentleman.
That’s an extract from my book King Bungaree, written way back in 1992. It’s now as scarce as hen’s teeth, but available in many libraries.
In lithography the artist draws directly onto a flat stone using greasy ink or a chalk pencil. The stone is immersed in water and then wiped over with printing ink, which is rejected by the wet areas and accepted by the greasy areas. Prints are taken straight from the stone.
This was a new technique for Earle, which explains why the words “KING BUNGAREE” on his subject’s breastplate were reversed.
Bungaree stands on the heights of The Rocks on the western side of Sydney Cove (now Circular Quay). Behind him at Dubuwagulye, we see Fort Macquarie, erected by Governor Lachlan Macquarie. Today on this point of land, named after Bennelong, the vaulted roof shells of architect Joern Utzon’s masterpiece, the Sydney Opera House, float up like billowing white sails against the blue sky.
Bungaree, of course, was originally from Broken Bay, north of Sydney. See my brief biography of Bungaree at The Dictionary of Sydney online at
Governor Sir Ralph Darling succeeded Governor Brisbane.
THE SECOND LITHOGRAPH
Bungaree was the subject of the first and second lithographic portraits produced in Australia. Charles Rodius captured Bungaree in a double portrait, hatless at left in profile and wearing his signature naval hat and jacket at right.
The Sydney Monitor of 6 March 1830 reported (page 26):
Copyright Keith Vincent Smith 2020