A recent donation of 80 early twentieth century glass plate negatives of the Shoalhaven includes three portraits of local identity King Mickey Johnson, including this haunting image in which he is wearing his King Plate and top hat.
Mickey Johnson (1834-1906) was one of the most famous Aboriginal inhabitants of the Shoalhaven and is thought to have been brought to the area from Port Stephens in the 1860s by Major E. H Weston of Albion Park. After working for Weston for ten years or so, he moved to Kangaroo Valley with his wife Rosie. In the early 1890s, they moved to Windang on the coast at the mouth of Lake Illawarra. He was proclaimed King of the Illawarra Tribe at the Illawarra Centenary celebrations in 1896 and was presented with a brass plate inscribed with Mickey Johnson, King by Archibald Campbell, MLA.
Mickey spent his final years at the aboriginal camp on the flat at Minnamurra River near the bridge. He died in 1906 when he was 72, and is buried in the Kiama cemetery
The photographer has been identified as Cyrus Moss, who worked as a clerk with Nowra solicitor Thomas Marriott. Photography was his hobby and some of his photographs were used to illustrate Woodhill’s The Hawkesbury and Shoalhaven Calendar, Cultural and Cookery Guide for 1905. (ML981.3/6A1)
Two albums of photographs by Moss are held by the Nowra Museum and images from them were used in an exhibition presented by Shoalhaven Historical Society in 1996.
The material is housed in the Pictures collection at the call number ON 436
Alan Davies, Photographs Curator