Research Inside the life of one of the Aboriginal inventor,...

Inside the life of one of the Aboriginal inventor, David Unaipon

-

David Unaipon (1872-1967) was an Indigenous Australian man who was an inventor, author and preacher. Unaipon’s achievements were critical in breaking down regressive Aboriginal stereotypes. In commemoration of his work and contributions, Unaipon was rewarded with his image being printed on the Australian $50 note. Here are some of the key events and points from David Unaipon’s life.

David Unaipon
David Unaipon

Early life

Unaipon was born at the Point McLeay Mission in Coorong, South Australia. He was the fourth of nine children. He began his primary education when he was 7 years old at the Point McLeay Mission School. While at school, his teachers commented on his supreme intelligence and manners. He left school at 13, where he worked as a servant for C.B. Young in Adelaide. In the 1890s, he travelled throughout Adelaide; however, he found that his dark skin undermined his employment chances.

Inventions

Unaipon spent half a decade working on a perpetual motion machine while working on a range of other devices. During his lifetime, Unaipon took out 19 provisional patents for different inventions; however, he couldn’t afford to get any of his designs fully patented. Unaipon was also instrumental in developing modern sheep shears. Unfortunately, Unaipon was never compensated for any of his inventions or contributions.

Writing

David Unaipon was the first Indigenous author to be published. The University of Adelaide commissioned Unaipon to write a book about Aboriginal legends, and from 1924, Unaipon wrote several articles for the Sydney Daily Telegraph.

Legacy and tributes

On top of being recognised on the Australian $50 note, the David Unaipon Literary Award celebrates the best writing of the year from an unpublished Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander author. It has been awarded annually since 1988. Unaipon Avenue in Ngunnawal (Canberra) is also named after him.

Emily Dash
Emily Dash
Emily Dash is a columnist for Quilter. She is a seven-time winner of the Loeb Award, business journalism's highest honor. She is a graduate of the University of Sydney.

Latest news

4 controversial moments from Gina Rinehart’s career

Gina Rinehart is arguably one of the most controversial business magnates in Australia. She is the chairperson of Hancock...

Hugh Jackman’s top 5 best movies

Hugh Jackman is one of the most successful and marketable Australian actors on the planet. Throughout the mid to...

Inside the life and career of the investor, Warren Buffett

Widely regarded as one of the most successful investors in the world, Warren Buffett has accumulated a net worth...

5 things you didn’t know about Andrew “Twiggy” Forrest

Andrew Forrest, better known by his nickname “Twiggy” is one of the wealthiest Australians alive. He is the former...

3 big mistakes you want to avoid when entering the Aussie job market

With the ongoing economic fallout from COVID-19, the Australian graduate market and wider employment pool have completely dried up....

Counting down Australia’s best movies

Australia has produced some surreal films, many of which revolve around the Australian climate, landscape and way of life....

Must read

4 controversial moments from Gina Rinehart’s career

Gina Rinehart is arguably one of the most controversial...

Hugh Jackman’s top 5 best movies

Hugh Jackman is one of the most successful and...

You might also likeRELATED
Recommended to you