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Oswald Brierly and the Aboriginal People at Turembulerrer

an exhibition of historic artworks and writings

by Oswald Brierly

At the Bundian Way Aboriginal Art Gallery,

Delegate - June through October 2013 and at Merimbula Museum until April 2014

and later at the Aboriginal Culture Centre, Jigamy Farm, Eden


                                                                                                                                                        Used with permission Mitchell Library, State Library of NSW Ė A 535

Brierly saw the importance of the canoe culture from the beginning. As he wrote:

The coast tribes still wandered along its shores, in their opossum skin cloaks and subsisted principally on hunting the kangaroos and emu, or fishing in their small bark canoes, upon the Lagoon in its neighbourhood, and as a part of Australia long unvisited and undescribed by travellers, it had almost the interest of a new country.


Some natives arrived in canoes bringing us a supply of fish for which we gave them flour and meat in exchange. When they landed they lifted their canoes, which were made of bark, out of the water with great care and carried them upon their heads to a shaded place near the beach, covering them over with green branches to prevent them drying up or cracking from exposure to the sun.

Brierly came to know the importance of trade and reciprocity in Aboriginal culture. Fish were a staple of the diet. He also came to know the difficulties of using the canoes for a whitefella. When he tried using one sitting on his bottom, he very soon tumbled into the water. And it didnít happen just once. In this drawing he shows the correct position, emphasising it in a note:

Mode of Sitting - kneeling and sitting on heels...

The detail shows the forms of spears used for fishing and the ingenious adaptation to allow a stable place for those spears. His sketch was later used as the basis for his watercolour painting of the canoe.

This important exhibition is like a snapshot of the Aboriginal culture at the moment of settlement.



   © Eden Local Aboriginal Land Council  2012

Permission should be sought before reproducing any text or graphics.

Email:  info@bundianway.com.au

Last modified: December 14, 2012