New South Wales
WARNING: Visitors should be aware that this website includes images and names of deceased people that may cause sadness or distress to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.
These are the breastplates annotated in King Plates: A History of Aboriginal Gorgets by Jakelin Troy (1993) as well as breastplates that have come into the National Museum of Australia's collection since the publication of the book. More breastplates will be progressively added.
We welcome feedback about any of the breastplates and/or additional breastplates.
Image Gallery Page Navigation
Page 4 of 7
Tumberilagong, Chief of the Nuneree Tribe
AIA no A-ON 115 Edmund O Milne Collection
176 x 114 x 4
This is a very old and worn gorget. The style of lettering and conservative design of escarbuncle and laurel leaves which copy the decorations on military gorgets suggest it was made in the early nineteenth century. Its suspension holes are very worn, indicating that the gorget was often used and handled. It is difficult to decide whether the plate was sand-cast or sawn. The degree of pitting on the object which suggests sand-casting could also be attributed to corrosion caused, for example, by being buried in the ground or from marks made by etching acid used to etch out the surface decorations.
Nothing has been discovered about Tumberilagong or the Nuneree Tribe. It is possible the name Tumberilagong is connected with Tumblong near Gundagai on the Murrumbidgee River, New South Wales. However, an article in the Monaro Mercury, 23 February 1931, provides some of the history of the gorget:
An interesting half-moon brass plate, similar to those formerly worn by Aboriginals who were kings of their respective tribes was found last week in one of Mr. H.A. Haslingden's paddocks at Lawarra about 7 miles from Cooma where rabbit burrows were being dug out. On the upper portion of the 'badge of royalty' appears some scroll work and in the centre are the words 'TUMBERILAGONG CHIEF OF THE NUNEREE TRIBE'. There is a small hole on each point of the plate to which a chain was no doubt attached so that it could be worn necklace fashion. Similar relics have been found in various districts minus the chains which had formerly been replaced by string or fibre when the 'the king' appeared 'in full dress'. The initial letter of the name of the tribe is indistinct and it may possibly be 'M' as the district was in early days known as Maneroo. ... It is Mr. Haslingden's intention to forward the plate to the N.S.W. Museum where it may be identified as belonging to one of the early tribes of aboriginals of the Monaro district.
Mr Briney of Pialliway
1985.59.385 Edmund O Milne Collection
172 x 108 x 2
This gorget has a very aged appearance, its engraving is very worn and its surfaces are scratched and pitted. The lettering and design of the gorget indicate a mid-nineteenth century date. It is decorated with the popular emu and kangaroo motifs.
Nothing has been uncovered about Mr Briney although his evocative name suggests salt water. He may have spent some time crewing for a colonial ship before finally settling at Pialliway. Pialliway is very likely to have been Pialawa Station which was in the district of Liverpool Plains, New South Wales, on Pialawa Creek, 15 miles from Tamworth. It was 'McDougall's squattage'.  To confuse the issue there is also a listing for a station owned by George Curtis on Pialaway Creek, also in Liverpool Plains and also situated 15 miles from Tamworth.  The name 'pialliway' is created from the verb stem baya- 'speak' which was a word from the Sydney language that was borrowed into New South Wales Pidgin. 
1 WH Wells, A Geographical Dictionary; or Gazetteer of the Australian Colonies, 1848, The Council of the Library of New South Wales, Sydney, 1848, p. 339.
2 Wells 1848, p. 339.
3 J Troy, 'Australian Aboriginal Contact with the English Language in New South Wales: 1788-1845', Pacific Linguistics, B-103, 1990; J Troy, The Sydney Language, the author, Canberra, 1993; J Troy, 'The Sydney Language' in McGregor, W (ed.), Macquarie Aboriginal Words: a dictionary of words from Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander languages, Macquarie Library, Sydney, 1994; and J Troy, 'Melaleuka: a History and Description of New South Wales Pidgin', PhD thesis, Australian National University, 1995.
Geroone, Chief of Unanderra
1985.99.1 Mr H Zeigler
149 x 87.5 x 8
Tommy. Constable, Wellington
1985.59.369 Edmund O Milne Collection
176 x 111 x 6
This sand-cast brass gorget was made to last which is suggested by its heavy weight in comparison with other gorgets. The surfaces of this gorget are very worn and scratched which indicates that it was subjected to some heavy wear. The style of decoration and lettering suggests a mid-nineteenth century date for its production. The motifs of an earl's coronet and swan rising are borrowed from English heraldic devices and are reminiscent of the designs on military gorgets. The bird may have had some significance to Tommy, possibly as a totem, and was incorporated for that reason.
The inscription suggests that Tommy was a police constable at Wellington, New South Wales. It is also possible that Tommy was Tommy Wellington or Constable Wellington. There is an Aboriginal family with the name Wellington mentioned frequently in Jimmie Barker's autobiography . But the way the inscription is punctuated appears to confound this theory.
1 J Barker, The Two Worlds of Jimmie Barker: the Life of an Australian Aboriginal 1900-1972, Australian Institute of Aboriginal Studies, Canberra, 1980.
> Rewards for government service - more information about Tommy
Sawyer, King of Wickham Hill
1985.59.387 Edmund O Milne Collection
145 x 120 x 5; chain 590
Jemmy Muggle, King of Wiggley
1985.59.376 Edmund O Milne Collection
144 x 118 x 5
Of all the gorgets in the Museum's collection this one is the most similar in design to a military gorget. It is embellished with a coronet, leafy branches and an inscription which all suggest the king's crown and insignia surrounded with laurels that was the usual device of military gorgets in Australia. It is a very old plate with a dark and worn surface, perhaps caused by its long burial in the ground.
The only information yet discovered about Jemmy Muggle and his gorget is in a note made by Edmund Milne in about 1910. Information in the note suggests that the gorget probably dates to the 1820s when the district was being settled:
This Crown plate is said to have belonged to Jemmy Muggle an Aboriginal King whom it is thought was in this district perhaps about 100 years ago Mr William McCarthy states that he ploughed this plate out from one of his paddocks which is said was a camping place, near the fresh water on the Nelligen Creek ... Mr McCarthy had this plate for about 28 years. None of the old hands remembers anything about this black. No such place as Wiggley is known in this district. 
1 Anon, The Milne Anthropological Collection, manuscript, National Museum of Australia, EO Milne Collection file no. 85/310 folio 159.