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Film negative - Girl, Unnrubinna, tobogganing on the granite slopes at Kurrekapinya Soakage, Ayers Ranges, Northern Territory, photographed by Herbert Basedow, 1903


Object information





L 81mm x W 98mm



Reproduced by Basedow in 'Journal of the Government North-West Expedition', "Proceedings of the Royal Geographical Society of Australasia, South Australian Branch", vol. XV, plate 55/2. Caption reads 'GIRL PICCANINNY, UNNRUBINNA, TOBOGGANING ON THE GRANITE SLOPES AT KURREKAPINNYA SOAKAGE, AUGUST 6th. / The girl was photographed in the act of sliding down the smooth track described in the text [pp. 205-206].'

Physical Description

Black and white film negative showing a naked Aboriginal child slidind down a rock slope.

Educational Significance

This is a photograph by Herbert Basedow of a child sliding down a bare granite rockface. The rock is in focus but because the figure is moving, it is blurred. Track marks coming toward the camera suggest that it is a well-used slide.

Aboriginal children found plenty of ways to have fun, inventing a game using found objects - a rock or tree branch - or playing with a miniature object that an adult might make for them, such as a tiny canoe or digging stick. In this case, the fun comes from a sloping rock surface - a natural slippery dip. The child, Unnrubinna, has crafted a mat of reeds to sit on as she slides. Basedow took this photograph in 1903 at Kurrekapinya Soakage in the Ayers Ranges, Northern Territory.

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 a five-and-a-half-month minerals exploration of north-west South Australia (and some way into the Northern Territory) on behalf of the South Australian government.


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