The Newcastle Tribe (1820)

Corrobborree or Dance of the Natives of New South Wales New Holland (1821) - Courtesy of UONCC University of Newcastle (Australia)
Corrobborree or Dance of the Natives of New South Wales New Holland (1821) – Courtesy of UONCC University of Newcastle (Australia)

Corrobborree or Dance of the Natives of New South Wales New Holland is Plate VI (6) from Captain James Wallis’ An historical account of the colony of New South Wales and its dependent settlements : in illustration of twelve views, engraved by W. Preston from drawings taken on the spot by Captain Wallis. To which is subjoined An accurate map of Port Macquarie and the newly discovered River Hastings by J. Oxley
London : Printed for R. Ackermann by J. Moyes, 1821.

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Hi Res (39MB):

This scan is the highest resolution we have been able to obtain from copy donated by the family of Molly Steere in 1994. See

An explanation of this plate, as well as the rest of the original work is available here:

It reads:

No. VI.

Is a View of a corrobboree, or Dance, of the natives of New South Wales. The representation of this extraordinary assemblage of savage festivity, as well as the scenery, is taken from nature. The preparation for their dance is striking and curious. They assemble in groups, and commence marking their arms, legs, and bodies, in various directions, with pipe-clay and a kind of red ochre; some of them displaying great taste at their toilet, as in the representation. Their musician, who is generally an elderly man, sings a monotonous tune, in which they all join, striking in regular time the shield with a club or waddy. each dancer carries a green bough in his hand. The beauty of the scenery, the pleasing reflection of light from the fire round which they dance, the grotesque and singular appearance of the savages, and their wild notes of festivity, all form a strange and interesting contrast to any thing ever witnessed in civilised society. The women never dance; and, where several tribes meet together, each tribe dances separately. All the principal figures in the fore-ground are from original portraits; the tall figure laughing, on the left, is the chieftain or king of the Newcastle tribe, called Buriejou, – a brave, expert fellow, who has lately presented Governor Macquarie with his eldest son, to be placed in the native institution, as a proof of his confidence in British humanity.


This is a new, higher resolution scan of this important engraving, depicting the Newcastle Tribe around 1820. It’s leader was Burigon (also known as Long Jack) can be seen smiling at the lower left of the image.

He was murdered by two convicts on the 27th October 1820. Burigon’s murderer, John Kirkby was tried and hanged on the 18th December 1820, the first man ever convicted and exectuted for murdering an Aboriginal under British Law.

You are welcome to use the image for study and personal research purposes. Please acknowledge as “Courtesy of Cultural Collections, University of Newcastle (Australia)”

If you have any further information relating to this image, please leave it in a comment.

These images are provided free of charge to the global community thanks to the generosity of the Vera Deacon Regional History Fund.

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2 thoughts on “The Newcastle Tribe (1820)

  1. Since the Wallis Album turned up at an auction in Canada about 4 years ago, I thought it had been established that the images in Wallis’ book were, in fact, drawn by Joseph Lycett. Is this correct? If so, he should be acknowledged as the artist.

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