William Barak

Born : 01 January, 1824
Died : 15 August, 1903

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.

Most of his paintings and artifacts are thought to have been produced at Coranderrk in the decades 1880 through to the 1900s. Sayers notes "Overall, then, the sense conveyed by Barak's drawings is one of pattern, and it is pattern which embodies a sense of order. The order embodied here is the order of Barak's traditional culture, both in its social structure and in its integral involvement with the natural world, as expressed through ceremony."

He married three times but does not appear to have had any surviving children at his death in 1903.

The single drawing held by the South Australian Muesum is done in pencil wash, ochres and charcoal. Measuring 47x51 mm, it is not represented in Sayers' publication of 1994 (1). It accompanied by a note from Graham Pretty (AA 255) to Dr Tindale (AA 338) advising it was presented by Mrs LAM Rogers of Norwood dated 11 June 1940.

Inventory Listings by Series
Prepared ByGeorge Smith