Very few people outside of Tasmania have any real idea what our Ancestors
looked like, or even know very little about them and their culture. There are a
few well known paintings, several of which have been reprinted constantly,
implying that there are few surviving pictorial representations of our
Ancestors. This is misleading. There are literally hundreds of sketches,
drawings, paintings and etchings of the Ancestors which survive.
material of varying quality and standard from both French and British records,
as well as the colonial accounts of the early invaders. There are even a number
of photographs in existence which show the captured Ancestors in the last stage
of their life when they were incarcerated at Oyster Cove waiting to die, and
when the white community of the time was counting them down until there were
The pictorial material in this section has been given to us for use on this
site. The donor has asked to remain anonymous, as they believe the material
should be available to all Tasmanian Aboriginal people and the broader
community. All we can say is thank you.
The photographs show only the remaining captured Tasmanian Aboriginal people,
they do not show the Tasmanian Aboriginal people who were living free at this
time, having already integrated and assimilated within the broader Tasmanian
community. Pictures of these Ancestors when they come to light will be included
on the site.
The photographs are our legacy. It gives us and our children a chance to
actually see what they looked like. From personal research the pictures appear
to dominantly represent only one community of our Ancestors.
Click on the pictures to show a larger image.
is a representation of the Ancestors by a nineteenth century artist called Gould
at Wybaleena.on Flinders Island.
It is the worst representation of the Ancestors that has so
far been found. All his pictures portray the Ancestors in this fashion. His non
Aboriginal art is very different.
Often Indigenous peoples have been characterized by some
artists to the point of obscenity. However it is claimed in today's climate of
political correctness that the caricature is a result of poor artistic ability.
Personally I think it is just a product of the time.
This group of pictures was taken at Oyster Cove.
|Two paintings by Dattereau.
While some may consider that Datterau is not a good artist, the many pictures
I have seen accredited to him have movement and life which enables a
reconstruction of Traditional movements and natural life patterns which in turn
help in the reconstruction of our Traditional culture.
||Jimmy. He is recorded as coming from the
Hampshire Hills area of north west Tasmania.
This is how most of the ancestors are portrayed in Traditional
clothing. Jimmy is better drawn than most. This is a copy of a picture by Bock,
who was an artist who had a considerable ability in realistic colonial painting.
Lanne or Laney (or as he was commonly called King Billy) is described as our
last male. This is the political answer and commonly accepted myth. He spent the
last few years of his life as a whaler and intermixing within the broader
Tasmanian community, so it is doubtful that he died without leaving a child.
Almost every seafarer had female friends irrespective of their so called
respectability. Historically William Laney is definately not recorded as being
our last male. This ignores the men living free in a Traditional lifestyle
within their Kinship Groups that were recorded up to and after the 1860s.
William Lanne is the last captured male to die.
Even his death in 1869 gave him no respect. Dr Lodewyk Crowther removed his
head in the name of science at the Colonial Hospital. His head has never been
found. Neither has the tobacco pouch that was made out of his scrotum.
1868 during the Royal visit by the Duke of Edinburgh, when Prince Alfred
attended the 28th regatta on the Derwent River where "on the steps of the
pavilion stood the last representative of the Tasmanian Aboriginal race, King
Billy and the old woman Trugannini". The press recorded their every public
appearance as a curiosity - specimens of a dying race nearing extinction.
Truganinni, William Laney, and an unidentified woman. This picture is considered
as a group of unidentified people.
Even at this late stage in the
countdown to the Ancestor's "extinction" the photographers never even
bothered to record who they were. Supposition of names have been bandied about
for a number of years, but attempts to find a solution do not necessarily create
Arthur was considered an "educated native" and a recognised scholar
from the Queens Orphan School. He successfully managed 100 acres of farm land
better than many other land holders of the time. Problems with the other
landholders made their lives a misery. They were refused access to their land
and other farmers forced them off it. They were forced to return to Oyster Cove
where Walter joined a whaler and was at sea for 18 months before returning home
He drowned soon after his return in 1861.
Mary Anne was his wife and is listed as "a half cast". She is
recorded as the "last but one" after the death of William Lanne. Mary
Anne died at Oyster Cove
describe that there were two very distinct physical groups of Tasmanian
Aboriginal people. The northern people being darker and differing physically
from those of the south who were described as having a lighter skin colour which
they heightened with charcoal powder, covering the redder tinge to their skin.
It would be a reasonable assumption to note that the photos do not represent all
those who were surviving at Oyster Cove in 1868. My understanding of our history
from the invaders perspective would indicate that they would have been selective
in who they portrayed.
For all who view the photos it is the overwhelming sadness of the people
which is like a physical blow even a hundred and thirty years later. The pride
in who they were is still evident, even though at this time they were willing
themselves to death so they could join their friends and family who had already
rejoined the Great Spirit. They were living in appalling conditions that were
unfit for animals, harassed at every turn by what is described in one account
"as the dregs of the european community".