The Mary Bundock Collection: Australia, late 19th century



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Mary Bundock spent much time with the local Bandjalang people, at Wyangari on Richmond River, New South Wales. She collected and documented weapons, baskets, net-work, camp work and some other aspects of Bandjalang culture. In 1895 she donated 21 artefacts to the Australian Museum.

Miss Bundock (1845 – 1924) was born in the Hunter Valley where her parents had settled in the mid-1840s. Mary and her sister Alice spent much time with the local Bandjalang people and collected weapons, baskets, net-work and camp work. In 1895 she donated 21 artefacts to the Australian Museum.

Bundock's collection of dilly-bags was shown at the Sydney International Exhibition in 1879 and subsequently presented to the Royal Botanical Gardens in Kew. She sent dilly-bags, water vessels and fishing lines to the 1883 Amsterdam International, Colonial and Export Trade Exhibition and subsequently donated boomerangs, water vessels and message sticks to the Rijksmuseum voor Volkunde, Leiden (in 1888 and 1892).

Isabell McBryde, in her paper on Miss Bundock, highlights that part of the collection's significance is its focus on the activities and cultural material of women, an area often ignored or overlooked in historical records of the time. Indeed McBryde also highlights Bundock’s balanced and professional outlook in her writings and her collections.

McBryde considers these collections exceptional. 'Not only are they larger and more comprehensive than any other group of artefacts from the north coast of New South Wales, but they are also carefully documented. With the items come examples of the raw material used, notes on the technique of manufacture, and on their Aboriginal names. This material was collected not for its curiosity value, but as representing the life and culture of a distinct society, soon to disappear. This awareness of the urgency of the record, and the professional expertise shown in the documentation of her material, mark Miss Bundock as a pioneer in Australian cultural anthropology'.


Bandjalang people

Baskets; Indigenous Australian artefacts; Late 19th century; Weapons

Indigenous Australian peoples

Mary Bundock

Coverage Spatial

Richmond River, New South Wales, Australia

Coverage Temporal




2012-05-30 23:43

2011-04-19 13:18