Born: 1824, Victoria, Australia
Died: 15 August 1903, Victoria, Australia
William Barak, variously known as Barak, Berak, Beruk and Bearack, was some times also referred to as King Billy. Born in 1824, of the Wurundjeri, a clan of Woiworung, whose country was around Heidleberg throuth Yering and up to Mount Baw Baw. “Barak, who by the 1890s was the most famous Aboriginal person in Victoria” was regarded as an extraordinary survivor. He attended Rev. George Langhorne’s mission school in Melbourne and was employed as a native police man between 1844 and 1851. He married three times but did not appear to have had any surviving children at his death in 1903.
Most of his paintings and artifacts are thought to have been produced at Coranderrk in the decades 1880 through to the 1900s.
The single drawing held by the South Australian Muesum is done in pencil wash, ochres and charcoal and it is not represented in Sayers’ 1994 publication Aboriginal artists of the Nineteenth Century.