The Brungle-Tumut Local Aboriginal Land Council are attempting to secure a bravery award for heroes Yarri and Jacky Jacky, who rescued 69 Gundagai residents – a third of the town’s population at the time – in frail bark canoes during a flood in 1852.
The two Aboriginal men were recognised with a statue in Gundagai earlier this year, and Land Council President Sue Bulger believes a bravery award would be a further fitting honour.
“These two brave men showed courage and community spirit when they delivered emergency action in what was the biggest natural disaster in Australian history until Cyclone Tracy blew out the Arafura Sea and flattened Darwin,” she said.
“They were the first SES volunteers in NSW, with their rescue of people from the cold waters of the Murrumbidgee. This was a protracted rescue effort over some days and nights, and the work was carried out despite Gundagai townsfolk ignoring earlier warnings by Aboriginal community members that the area was subject to inundation.”
An application for a posthumous bravery award for the pair has previously been rejected, and the Land Council are attempting to bolster support for the second application through a change.org petition.
Some signees have left messages about why the award is important to them.
“I’m signing because my relatives were rescued by him!” said Rick Hargreaves.
“I am signing because my great-grandparents survived the 1852 flood. The story in our family is that they ‘were saved by Aborigines.’ I have no proof of this, but I believe the remarkable bravery of Yarri and/or Jacky Jacky may have saved my grandparents lives. A wonderful act by these two men in 1852,” said Marcia McIntyre.
The petition so far has 1,767 signatures (as of Thursday).
Sign the petition at www.change.org/p/australian-government-yarri-jacky-jacky-bravery-nomination.