Bennelong Sings

Dec 29, 2014, 11:54 PM

Audio source: ABC Radio National 'Hindsight'

2013 marked two hundred years since the death of Bennelong - that well known Wanggal leader and 'ambassador' to the Sydney colony.

Bennelong has long been cast as a tragic figure, a traitor to his people, a damaged character from countless Australian histories, novels and narratives. But as more information about him and his contemporaries comes to light, Bennelong is sometimes being recast as an adventurer, a politician, a diplomat … with documents that have come to light, he is still speaking to us across the centuries, in words and song.

Historian and curator, Keith Vincent Smith, has been investigating Bennelong’s life and his long, traumatic voyage to Britain in 1792. He found the copy of the letter we have today, in an obscure German astronomy journal.

Bennelong and Yemmerawanne's song, performed in London in 1792, as notated and published by musician Edward Jones in 1811. This version is performed by Clarence Slockee and Matthew Doyle at the State Library of NSW, August 2010. (02'01", 1.85MB)