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© Nancy McDinny/Licenced by Viscopy, 2017

Macassin Collecting Trepang

Date: before 2006
740 x 1240 x 25 mm
Medium: Acrylic on canvas
Credit Line: ANMM Collection
Object Copyright: © Nancy McDinny
Object Name: Painting
Object No: 00042369

User Terms

    From as early as the 1600s Macassan sailors from Sulawesi sailed each year to northern Australia. They called this land Marege.

    The Macassans came to collect trepang (also called teripang, sea slug, sea cucumber, bêche-de-mer, iriko) an exotic delicacy much demanded by Chinese. While debate continues about when these expeditions began, it was Australia’s first ‘export’ industry. The visitors established camps and built smokehouses. The beach was a place of business and interaction between Macassans and Aborigines.

    Citing ‘health’ reasons, government authorities ended the centuries-old trade in 1906.

    The artist recalls that, 'The old people used to work for the Macassens (sic) collecting trepang around the Sir Pellew Islands group in the Gulf not far from the McArthur River mouth. They got tobacco, flour, sugar, tea leaf and material in return for the work'.
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