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Both Ways: Circus Act
Wulgurukaba & Bindal Country (Townsville),Warrgamay, Nywaigi & Bandjin Country (Hinchinbrook)

Both Ways: Circus Act

Mungalla Station & Vicki Saylor

'A billboard exhibition illuminating First Nations perspectives of 'place' in North Queensland.'

Using the ubiquitous and popular mode of commuter advertising, the billboard, this exhibition illuminates First Nations stories of the lands traversed between Warrgamay, Nywaigi & Bandjin Country (Hinchinbrook) through Wulgurukaba and Bindal Country (Townsville) to Gudjal Country (Charters Towers).  Both Ways brings together contemporary artwork and archival images to explore the larger narratives of Indigenous Australia, highlighting histories and voices that are often unheard in popular forums in North Queensland. 

About the Artist

The Captive Lives Story
Many nineteenth century circuses included human curiosities, the most famous of these being the Barnum and Bailey Greatest Show.

In the 1880s and 1890s Barnum’s agent, R. A. Cunningham, persuaded two groups of Aboriginal people to participate in these shows in the USA and Europe where they were portrayed as the Australian Cannibals and Boomerang Throwers. The first group came from nearby Palm and Hinchinbrook Islands and the second from the Mungalla Station workforce.

Most of the two groups died in the cold conditions they experienced in the northern hemisphere. The first to die was known as Tambo and his body was mummified and sold to a dime museum in Ohio.

One hundred years later the Australian archaeologist Roslyn Poignant would begin to compile this amazing story of how they were seen by over 27 millions people throughout Europe and America in a book called "Professional Savages". In 1993 Tambo’s body was found in a disused American funeral parlour in Ohio and was returned to Palm Island to be reburied exactly 110 years after he died.

Roslyn Poignant curated a travelling exhibition for the National Library of Australia that exposes this story and was seen by over 300,000 people. Hear Nywaigi Aboriginal story tellers recount the treatment of their ancestors and see the exhibition, which is now permanently displayed in the grand old Mungalla Station which is one of the oldest homesteads in the Hinchinbrook shire.

This story has been supplied by Mungalla Station, as PUNQ has worked alongside Scott Anderson a Nywaigi Traditional Owner and Vicki Saylor a Manbarra Traditional Owner.

Event Information

Free Event PUNQ Tour Site-Specific Billboard Exhibition
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Acknowlegement of Country

PUNQ respectfully acknowledges the Wulgurukaba of Gurambilbarra and Yunbenun and the surrounding groups of our region; Bindal, Gugu Badhan, Nywaigi, Warrgamay, Bandjin and Gudjal as the Traditional Custodians of the land on which we gather, share and celebrate local creative practice. We pay our respects to Elders past, present and emerging. We acknowledge Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders as the first people of Australia. They have never ceded sovereignty and remain strong in their enduring connection to land and Culture.

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North Queensland, Australia | 2023 details coming soon


North Queensland, Australia
2023 details coming soon