Breastplate presented to the Yandruwandha people of Cooper Creek
Breastplates were given to Aboriginal elders and other Aboriginal people, including stockmen, trackers and individuals, for reasons including faithful service and saving the lives of non-Indigenous people. This breastplate records a cross-cultural encounter and the appreciation extended to the Yandruwandha people. It was presented to the Yandruwandha people of Cooper Creek in 1862 by Alfred Howitt, leader of the Relief Expedition sent to find the explorers Burke and Wills. The huge expedition led by Robert O’Hara Burke left Melbourne on 20 August, 1860. Burke reached his goal, crossing the continent but he, William John Wills and John Gray died on the return. The sole survivor of the party, John King was cared for by the Yandruwandha until found by Howitt’s party in September 1861. The breastplate is one of very few objects that documents cross cultural appreciation of Aboriginal people in caring and imparting survival skills to the many explorers of the era.