Curiosities & Collections

Bennelong and Yemmerrawanyea singing in England

Bennelong and Yemmerrawanyea

In a townhouse in London's Mayfair, near Berkeley Square, two Aboriginal men sing in their own language 'in praise of their lovers'. Their voices rise above the repetitive beat of the two hardwood sticks they clap together to maintain the rhythm. They wear fashionable Regency breeches, buckled shoes, ruffled shirts and waistcoats. The year is 1793 and the singers are Bennelong and Yemmerrawanne, far from their Wangal homeland on the south bank of the Parramatta River in Sydney. This was certainly the first time an Aboriginal song was performed in Europe ... Read more about Bennelong and Yemmerrawanyea singing in England

Aboriginal 'circus performers' carted through USA and Europe

A gruesome discovery revealed the fate of Tambo, an Aboriginal man put on show in the USA in the 1800s. The story begins in 1883 on Hinchinbrook and Palm islands, in Far North Queensland. Robert A. Cunningham, a recruiter for Barnum and Bailey’s circus, had traveled there to find subjects for his next show-stopping exhibition, Ethnological Congress of Strange Tribes. He sought to add to his collection of indigenous people, which already included Zulus from Africa, Toda from southern India, Nubians from southern Egypt and Sioux from the USA. Read more about Aboriginal 'circus performers' carted through USA and Europe

Possibly the largest collection of First Nations Artefacts was destroyed in 1882 fire

An ethnographic exhibition of Indigenous artefacts and items that had been stolen and 'traded' by Aboriginal communities over the previous hundred years were in a seven-month-long exhibition, which received over one million visitors, the artefacts were placed in storage in the Garden palace. When the predominantly-wooden building burnt down three years later, these items and their inherent cultural links were lost.

Read more about Possibly the largest collection of First Nations Artefacts was destroyed in 1882 fire>

Despite the efforts of Prince William, the skull of the 'rainbow warrior' remains at large

Pemulwuy Pimbloy: Native of New Holland in a canoe of that country
Pemulwuy Pimbloy: Native of New Holland in a canoe of that country State Library note: Pimbloy is better known by the name Pemulwuy.

(Picture: State Library of Victoria)

news.com.au 12 September 2-15 Read more about Despite the efforts of Prince William, the skull of the 'rainbow warrior' remains at large

Taking a look at the war waged against First Nations Peoples

It is now 33 years since the Australian War Memorial (AWM) was first asked to consider recognising the "frontier wars". The suggestion came from a distinguished historian and consultant to the memorial, none other than Geoffrey Blainey.

Blainey's case is straightforward. It has now been established beyond doubt that armed conflict between black and white occurred across the continent over a long period of time, and was routinely referred to by participants and observers as a "war"; those conflicts were similar to other irregular warfare already commemorated by the memorial; so, the "frontier wars" should be commemorated also. Read more about Taking a look at the war waged against First Nations Peoples

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