Glimpse into local history

A PHOTO taken near Swan Hill in 1902 has been unearthed at the Victorian Koorie Heritage Trust in Melbourne.

The picture, of a crowning ceremony, has led to a call to identify details of the people photographed.

Ngarra Murray discovered the photo last year. It features a large group of Indigenous and non-Indigenous Swan Hill residents at the "Crowning of the Murray River Tribe" near Swan Hill circa 1902.

The photo also features mounted police and soldiers.

According to Ngarra's father, Gourmjanyuk Clan member man Gary Murray, the 'King' in the photo is Harry Edwards, alongside Agnes, known as 'Queen Aggie Edwards' until her death in 1928.

"It is an amazingly significant historical photo," Mr Murray said.

"We're researchers and we look for that sort of stuff all the time [about our history]. We regularly check at the library to see if stuff has been handed in, and my daughter came across this photo last year."

Mr Murray said it was evidently a significant moment in history, with so many people brought together for a crowning, some of them holding what look like American flags.

"It may have had something to do with one of the English kings, maybe something was happening there, so they did something similar in Swan Hill," he said.

Mr Murray said they knew four out of the five Aboriginal people in the photo but little else. It is hoped others in the Swan Hill community might know more about the photo and its origins.

"Maybe someone has got a piece of gold they're sitting on and they don't know it," he said.

"The photographer is unknown but could be Lilian Louisa Pitt, one of the first pioneer women photographers who took other photographs involving my great-great grandfather Walpanumin, aka Jack Logan, and his wife Boolkjallegook, aka Mary Anna Orr, nee Barkley."

Mr Murray, who is writing a book about his ancestors, said the photo reflected the shared history of Swan Hill. He said it would do much for the local historical record to know more about the date, location and people photographed on that day in 1902.

Anyone who can shed any light on the context of the photo is invited to contact The Guardian.

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