Saturday, May 16, 2015

The Truth about Bungaree and the Broken Bay Aboriginal Tribes Part 2

The story of Bungaree
Bungaree was born around the Brisbane Water area in 1775 and was a young lad when Phillip and his party landed in 1789 , he met Bass and Flinders when they visited Broken Bay on a survey expedition in 1799.
He was described as witty , intelligent and something of a diplomat and " smart enough to keep a foot in both black and white camps ' He was recruited by Mathew Flinders to join him on the first expedition to Tasmania acting as an interpreter and go between , upon his return he again acted as interpreter for an expedition to the Hunter River and Newcastle.
In 1801 he again sailed with Mathew Flinders around the entire coast of Australia mapping the coastline and returned to the coast in 1803 , in 1804 was was called upon to help quell an uprising in Newcastle and sailed there with Lieutenant Menzies , upon his return he learnt that his father had been killed by escaped convicts heading back to Sydney Cove , he was about 29 years old at this stage.

The Deception
Around 1815 Governor Macquarie gave Bungaree and his family tribe land at Middle Head in what is known as the Bungaree Farm Experiment and Bungaree was appointed " king ", he was given a gold breastplate which bore the engraving " Bungaree - King of the Broken Bay Tribe " which he proudly wore every day after.They were encouraged to learn farming and were given convicts to teach them,  but they had no need for it as they had always found food on the land and went fishing instead - the project was doomed from the start. Bungaree was hardly there to help the tribe assimilate with the white man as he was again called upon to join an expedition around Australia for the second time in 1817 and in 1818 he returned to his family.
He was a well respected figure around the colony and was given a row boat so he could greet each ship as it entered the harbour.
When Macquarie left the colony for England Bungaree was given his old naval uniform.
Bungaree was around 45 by now and had achieved what no Aborigine or indeed many white men had at that age , he had made Aboriginal and Maritime history by circumnavigating Australia twice , there are places along the coastline named after him like Bungary North ( Norah Head ) and Bungary beach near Brisbane.
Governor Macquarie had scored a major coup in getting Bungaree to leave his tribal land at Woy Woy and it was made Crown property by the end of 1821. There were 3 land grants granted in the area , one of these to James Webb possibly a relative of Robert Webb the seaman who first visited with Captain Phillip in 1789.
The end
Sometime around 1823 James Webb settled on his land at Orange Grove and began farming and shipbuilding , local Aborigines were employed on the farm. Webb took a local Aboriginal woman named Sophie as a partner and they had a child.
Tribes from the inland were taking over the vacuum left by the displaced local tribe and began to raid the crops , so man traps were set to guard the crops at Booker Bay.
All along the coast tribes were being uprooted from their land as white man spread rapidly and they began to succumb to the easy pickings of tasty new crops and alcohol , also they were beginning to die en-masse from smallpox , the common flu and guns.
The last desperate years were marred by mass killings , crime and the slow death of the Aborigine population by disease and alcohol , one of the last recorded corroborees took place at Tacoma near Wyong in 1842 with only about 60 people attending of which about 24 were coastal people and the rest from inland , no survivors were recorded after this day until lost relatives of the original Broken Bay tribes emerged.
Bungaree died in 1830 and was buried in an unmarked grave at Rose Bay with the first of his 5 wives , Matora and his breastplate.

Admired by Macquarie , but ignored for a sailing cat - article by Tony Stephens - link
The Central Coast and Lake Macquarie Aboriginal People - an article by Wayne Peters 2002
The Brisbane Water Story Parts 1 & 2 - C. Swancott 1954
The Sydney Harbour Trust - website

Article by Steve Spillard COPYRIGHT 2015


  1. Hi Steve
    A very good article, but -
    Governor Macquarie never gave a breastplate to Bungaree engraved with the words 'Bungaree - King of the Broken Bay Tribe'.
    The words were: 'Boongaree Chief of the Broken Bay Tribe 1815'.
    'King' was a term used by colonial newspapers. I unfortunately used this title in my book 'King Bungaree' in 1992, but know better now.
    Keith Vincent Smith aka DrGrandpa

    1. Thanks Keith the source I used probably sourced your book , I patched this article together from a variety of sites on the web , cheers


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