Jackey Jackey (1833 – 1854), an Indigenous guide, was a member of the Wonnarua tribe and lived near Muswellbrook in New South Wales. He accompanied the explorer Edmund Kennedy on an expedition in 1848 to Cape York Peninsula. Members of the party were left along the way as they became weak and ill. Jackey Jackey and Kennedy were attacked by Aborigines when close to Cape York and Kennedy was killed. After burying him, Jackey Jackey escaped, taking two weeks to reach the waiting supply ship on 23 December 1848.

In May 1849 he guided an expedition in search of survivors from Kennedy’s party but was unsuccessful. On his return, he was rewarded with an engraved breastplate and a £50 gratuity. Jackey Jackey returned to New South Wales in 1850 and died in 1854 near Albury, NSW. The Australian Dictionary of Biography notes that one ‘authentic portrait’ of Jackey Jackey survives: an 1849 lithograph by Charles Rodius.

The text of the silver breastplate presented to Jackey Jackey reads:

Presented by His Excellency Sir Charles Augustus FitzRoy K.D. Governor of New South Wales, to Jackey Jackey, an Aboriginal native of that colony. In testimony of the fidelity with which he followed the late Assistant Surveyor E.B.C. Kennedy, throughout the exploration of York Peninsula in the year 1848; the noble daring with which he supported that lamented gentleman, when mortally wounded by the Natives of Escape River, the courage with which after having affectionately tended the last moments of his Master, he made his way through hostile Tribes and an unknown Country, to Cape York; and finally the unexampled sagacity with which he conducted the succour that there awaited the Expedition to the rescue of the other survivors of it, who had been left at Shelbourne Bay.

Places in Queensland named after Jackey Jackey include Jackey Jackey Creek, Jackey Jackey Airfield and Jacky Jacky [sic] Range.


Lee Butterworth and Jan Richardson, ‘Jackey Jackey (1833 – 1854)’, Harry Gentle Resource Centre, Griffith University, 2022 (updated 2023), https://harrygentle.griffith.edu.au/life-stories/jackey-jackey/.

Archival Resources

‘Silver breastplate presented by His Excellency Sir Charles Augustus Fitz Roy K.B., Governor of NSW to Jackey Jackey’

Mitchell Library, State Library of NSW, Call Number: SAFE/R 453.

Statement of Jackey Jackey, 1848

Mitchell Library, State Library of NSW, Angus & Robertson manuscripts by Jackey Jackey, 1848, Call Number: MLMSS 314/vol. 151/Item 1.


Willam Carron, Narrative of an expedition undertaken under the direction of the late Mr Assistant Surveyor E. B. Kennedy, for the exploration of the country lying between Rockingham Bay and Cape York.

Sydney, 1849.

Jack Sullivan and Paterson Historical Society, A Fortunate Liaison: Dr Adoniah Vallacck and Jackey Jackey.

Paterson, NSW: Paterson Historical Society, 2003.

Margaret Paice, Jackey Jackey.

Illustrated by Walter Cunningham. Sydney: Collins, 1976.


The fate of Kennedy's expedition, Sydney Morning Herald, 6 March 1849, p. 2.

Original correspondence, Sydney Morning Herald, 7 March 1849, p. 3.

Jackey Jackey, Moreton Bay Courier, 14 Apr 1849, p. 3.

No title, Sydney Morning Herald, 31 December 1850, p. 2 .

Jackey Jackey, Maitland Mercury and Hunter River General Advertiser, 25 Jul 1849, p. 2.

Jackey Jackey, Sydney Morning Herald, 31 Dec 1850, p. 2.

Assistant-Surveyor Kennedy, Sydney Morning Herald, 6 March 1852, p. 4.

Kennedy's expedition to Cape York in 1848, Queensland Times, Ipswich Herald and General Advertiser, 10 Mar 1863, p. 4.

An Aboriginal hero, Bundaberg Mail, 28 Feb 1922, p. 5.

Australia remembers Kennedy's man 'Jackey Jackey', The Worker, 4 Jul 1949, p. 13.

Online Resources

Monuments Australia: Jackey Jackey

Australian Dictionary of Biography: Jackey Jackey

Wikipedia: Jackey Jackey

Trove: Medal given by Sir C. Fitzroy to Jackey Jackey, native servant to the explorer Mr Kennedy

Project Gutenberg Australia: Robert Logan Jack, 'Northmost Australia', 1921