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Bongaree the Man


Bongaree (or Bungaree) was an indigenous Garigal man from the Broken Bay area in Sydney. Born circa1775.

Bungaree [Bongaree] became the first known Aboriginal person to circumnavigate Australia and contribute to the mapping of the Australian coastline.

A short man with a sharp intellect, Bungaree arrived in Sydney in the 1790s with the remains of his Garigal mob, after conflicts with white settlers had escalated along the Hawkesbury River. He must have quickly made a mark in the fledging colony, as by 1798 he was employed on a 60-day round trip to Norfolk Island on the HMS Reliance, where he met the young English naval lieutenant Matthew Flinders. Flinders was so impressed with Bungaree’s friendly demeanour, intuition and bravery that the following year he took him on a coastal survey voyage to Bribie Island and Hervey Bay (Qld) on the 25-tonne longboat Norfolk.

Bungaree was a brilliant diplomat and despite language barriers could quickly ascertain the wishes of the coastal Aboriginal groups they encountered. Flinders therefore used him again on his most exploratory voyage, the circumnavigation of Australia in the HMS Investigator, from 1802 to 1803. It was on this expedition that much of Australia’s unknown coastline was mapped.

Compiled by Lynne Hooper from public domain sources.

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