Naming the Wild Australia Show Performers: a photographic analysis


Photographic Identification of the Troupe Members of the Wild Australia Show (9789 KB) pdf document icon


Aird, M. & Memmott, P.


Photographic Identification of the Troupe Members of the Wild Australia Show. Memoirs of the Queensland Museum – Culture 12: 7–26. Brisbane.

Date published




visual anthropology, Australian Aboriginal portraits, Wild Australia Show, Archibald Meston, Kudajarnd, Gida, Yamurra


The ‘Wild Australia Show’ was a travelling troupe of Aboriginal performers who, during 1892–93, performed in Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne where they were photographed by leading studio portraitists of the time. The vast majority of the over 160 collected photos of the troupe are very poorly provenanced, with the performers’ names and language group identities often inaccurately spelt partly due to being initially mis-heard and mis-pronounced; and in a proportion of cases photos are non-provenanced. This paper contains an introduction to the photographs, names and group identities of the 27 Aboriginal participants who were drawn from the Queensland frontiers, with a description of the methodology of how their identities were derived from a complex, contradictory, but ethnographically limited corpus of data. This research in visual anthropology represents a contribution to correcting the often ethnocentric and racist legacy of colonial Indigenous museum collections – the failure to recognise and acknowledge basic human identity and familial and social affiliations amongst First Nations peoples.