Bungaree and Flinders
Bungaree (d.1830), the first Indigenous person to circumnavigate Australia (with Lieutenant Matthew Flinders), was a crucial member of three major naval expeditions, and the subject of at least 17 portraits.
This portrait of Bungaree, painted around 1826 by Augustus Earle, is one of the earliest oil paintings of an Aboriginal man.
Dressed in a succession of military and naval uniforms that had been given to him, Bungaree was a familiar sight on Sydney’s streets. People were charmed by his humour and gift of mimicry, especially his impressions of past and present governors.
Bungaree first came to prominence in 1798, when accompanying Flinders on a coastal survey as a guide, interpreter and negotiator with local Indigenous groups. Flinders was the cartographer of the first complete map of Australia and the first person to circumnavigate the continent and advocate the name ‘Australia’. Flinders noted that Bungaree was ‘a worthy and brave fellow’ who, on more than one occasion, saved the expedition.
In 1815, Governor Macquarie ‘crowned’ Bungaree ‘Chief of the Broken Bay Tribe’ and presented him with 15 acres of land on George’s Head. Bungaree spent the rest of his life greeting newcomers to the colony, and eventually sank into a life of begging and alcoholism.