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Image Three Indigenous Australians, c1850

TLF ID R4658

This is a watercolour painted by Samuel Gill in about 1850, entitled 'Two natives and child by a creek'. The painting, which measures 10 cm x 12 cm, is also known as 'Aborigine with barbed spear'. The location is unidentified. The image shows three Indigenous Australians - a man, a woman, and a child aged about three. All are barefoot and wearing what could be a mixture of traditional and European clothing. They are standing in an open area beside a creek. The man is carrying a barbed spear and the woman has a long stick in one hand and a loose basket over her left shoulder.

Educational details

Educational value
  • This asset probably shows an Indigenous Australian family - the man, in his traditional role as a hunter of food, is carrying a barbed spear; the woman, traditionally a gatherer of food, is carrying what could be a digging stick, used for tasks such as digging up yams.
  • It shows three Indigenous Australians wearing what could be a mixture of traditional and European-style clothing - the clothing draped over the shoulders of the adults could be kangaroo-skin cloaks.
  • It appears to show a woman carrying a basket over her left shoulder - Indigenous Australian women traditionally made baskets by weaving a kind of rush; items carried in the baskets included food, fire-making materials, gum for adhesive and charms.
  • It depicts Indigenous Australians at a time when their traditional lifestyle was undergoing rapid transition - although the location of this painting is unidentified, it is probably in one of the three parts of the country where the artist worked (South Australia, Victoria, New South Wales); European settlement had immediate and major effects on traditional lifestyles in all three locations.
  • It features a painting by the artist Samuel Thomas Gill (1818-80) - English-born Gill arrived in Australia in 1839 and became well known for his realistic and often humorous paintings of everyday life; his prolific work includes many depictions of Indigenous Australians.
Year level

3; 4

Other details

  • Contributor
  • Name: National Library of Australia
  • Organization: National Library of Australia
  • Description: Content provider
  • URL:
  • Name: Education Services Australia
  • Organization: Education Services Australia
  • Description: Data manager
  • Person: Samuel Thomas Gill
  • Description: Author
  • Copyright Holder
  • Name: National Library of Australia
  • Organization: National Library of Australia
  • Publisher
  • Name: Education Services Australia Ltd
  • Organization: Education Services Australia Ltd
  • Description: Publisher
  • Address: VIC, AUSTRALIA
  • URL:
  • Resource metadata contributed by
  • Name: Education Services Australia Ltd
  • Organisation: Education Services Australia Ltd
  • Address: AUSTRALIA
  • URL:
Access profile
  • Device independence
  • Hearing independence
Learning Resource Type
  • Image
  • © Education Services Australia Ltd and National Library of Australia, 2013, except where indicated under Acknowledgements