His face is on the flipside of the Australian $50 note, accompanied by a quotation : “As a full-blooded member of my race, I think I may claim to be the first, but not the last, to produce an enduring record of our customs, beliefs and imaginings”. David UNAIPON was an Aborigine preacher, inventor, writer and activist, the first indigenous Australian to publish a written work in English. His inventions include a shearing machine and a centrifugal motor, among his nineteen provisional patents – for which he received neither money nor credit. Recognized now as Australia’s Leonardo da Vinci (!), he designed a helicopter based on the principle of the boomerang.
The quotation above refers to his book, published in 1930 under the name of William Ramsay Smith, and forty years after his death in 1967, under his own name, in 2006 : “Legendary Tales of the Australian Aborigines”. He believed that the traditional Aborigine and Christian spiritualities were basically the same. I am intrigued by this recognized, meticulous, obsessive wordsmith’s use of the word “imaginings”. He retold traditional stories, “legendary tales”, of the Aboriginal Dreamtime. Did he equate beliefs, imaginings and legends ? I wonder what he would have thought about blindfaithblindfolly . . .