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Yuranigh (?–1850)

This article was published in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 2, (MUP), 1967

Yuranigh (d.1850), Aboriginal guide, belonged to the Molong district, New South Wales. He was one of three Aborigines who joined Sir Thomas Mitchell and his twenty-nine men soon after they set out from Boree, near Molong, in December 1845 on the journey of exploration that took them to central Queensland. Yuranigh was first mentioned in Mitchell's journal three weeks after the start of the journey when he tracked and brought back to camp three cattle that had strayed. Thereafter he was frequently and gratefully referred to for finding water, scanning the country from lofty trees, pacifying the Aborigines who shadowed the expedition, and generally imparting bush lore.

Mitchell wrote of his 'guide, companion, counsellor and friend' that 'his intelligence and his judgment rendered him so necessary to me that he was ever at my elbow … Confidence in him was never misplaced. He well knew the character of all the white men in the party. Nothing escaped his penetrating eye and quick ear. Yuranigh was particularly clean in his person, frequently washing, and his glossy shining black hair, always well-combed, gave him an uncommonly clean and decent appearance'.

When the expedition was over Yuranigh and Dicky, another Boree Aboriginal, went with Mitchell to Sydney, where Yuranigh took delight in showing his companion the sights. The governor granted Yuranigh a 'small gratuity' and for a time both blacks were resolved 'to work and live like white men'. However, Yuranigh soon tired of the town and after an 'affecting' leave-taking became a stockman on a northern cattle station. Later he found his way back to his own tribe. He died near Molong probably in April 1850. Mitchell saw to it that Yuranigh's grave was fenced at government expense and later he himself paid for an inscribed headstone. In 1900 the government renovated the headstone, re-erected it on a base of Molong marble and re-fenced the grave. The inscription runs: 'To Native Courage Honesty and Fidelity. Yuranigh who accompanied the expedition of discovery into tropical Australia in 1846 lies buried here according to the rites of his countrymen and this spot was dedicated and enclosed by the Governor General's authority in 1852'. A lagoon, a county in Queensland and a creek near Molong are named Yuranigh.

Select Bibliography

  • T. L. Mitchell, Journal of an Expedition into the Interior of Tropical Australia (Lond, 1848)
  • W. R. Glasson, ‘Yuranigh’, Queensland Geographical Journal, vol 54, 1949-52, pp 53-65.

Citation details

'Yuranigh (?–1850)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/yuranigh-2829/text4059, published in hardcopy 1967, accessed online 25 October 2014.

This article was first published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 2, (MUP), 1967

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