NMA collection record

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Glass plate negative - Youth on raft, Worora people, George Water, Western Australia, photographed by Herbert Basedow, 1916

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Young man on a mangrove tree raft, 1916


This is a photograph by Herbert Basedow of a young man seated on a raft and floating on a body of water from which trees and other plants emerge. He is facing the camera and holding a paddle. The uppermost platform of the raft is made of eight logs bound together. Toward the rear of the raft, two other logs protrude diagonally from underneath, indicating that the raft is built with a lower platform as well.

Educational value

This is a Worora man at George Water in the Kimberley region of northern Western Australia. In this area, Aboriginal people use rafts of mangrove trunks to move about in the bays and inlets. They also travel on rafts to visit islands close to the coast in search of seasonal foods like turtle eggs. The rafts are comprised of two layers of six to ten logs, one resting on top of the other. In each layer, neighbouring logs are joined together with hardwood pegs. A raft can carry one or two people, who use a wooden paddle to drive. For comfort, they might sit on a bed of grass or reeds.

Herbert Basedow was a doctor, anthropologist and explorer. From 1903 to 1928 he ventured to remote regions of central and northern Australia - places rarely seen by Australians even today. Aboriginal people often feature in his photographs. Basedow wanted to document Aboriginal cultures as they had been before British colonisation, and often went to some lengths to craft his photographs to appear as such.

This photograph was taken during an expedition in the Kimberley region of north-east Western Australia to investigate a reported deposit of metal that would be useful for munitions.

© Education Services Australia Limited and the National Museum of Australia 2010

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