Historic Aboriginal character immortalised on Masons' crest

Bungaree unveiled: Lodge Kirrawee Masons John Denning and Rob Coote with Les Bursill and their newly named logo. Picture: Chris Lane
Bungaree unveiled: Lodge Kirrawee Masons John Denning and Rob Coote with Les Bursill and their newly named logo. Picture: Chris Lane

WHEN Lodge Kirrawee was formed in 1956, members designed a crest depicting an Aboriginal warrior.

The fact he was nameless was not considered a problem until a year ago when John Denning met an Aboriginal Mason, John Patten, at Lithgow.

"He asked about our logo and who it was and said it was custom that the logo should bear an Aboriginal name," Mr Denning said. "He offered to provide us with a name, but we decided we wanted someone from this tribal area."

The Lodge contacted Les Bursill, an elder from the Dharawal nation, who offered three choices, including Bungaree, who accompanied Matthew Flinders on the first circumnavigation of Australia.

"As Matthew Flinders was a Freemason, the Lodge unanimously chose Bungaree as the name for their logo."

The Lodge commissioned an oil painting of Bungaree, which was unveiled on March 9 with an Aboriginal smoking ceremony conducted by Uncle Max Dulumunmun Harrison and a welcome to country by Mr Bursill.

Mr Bursill said Bungaree, who died in 1830, was a familiar sight in colonial Sydney. He was famed for dressing in military and naval uniforms as well as his gift for mimicry and impressions of past and present governors.

Bungaree came to prominence in 1798, when he accompanied Matthew Flinders on a coastal survey as an interpreter, guide and negotiator with indigenous groups. He also accompanied Flinders on his 1801-03 circumnavigation of Australia.

Flinders noted Bungaree was "a worthy and brave fellow" who, on more than one occasion, saved the expedition.

In 1815, Governor Lachlan Macquarie dubbed Bungaree "Chief of the Broken Bay Tribe".

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