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Updated On September 21, 2023
South Australia,
Birth Sign
South Australia,

David Unaipon is one of numerous individuals who have contributed significantly to the evolution of Australian society. This great preacher, who was discriminated against as a child for being of indigenous ancestry, spoke out against the ill-treatment of members of his community. David’s role as a clan crusader has aided other members of his community in achieving a higher social status today. Apart from his involvement in major political issues, Unaipon was also an active participant in scientific research, being credited with as many as 19 inventions, all of which were granted patents. Among these ground-breaking works is the design of a helicopter based on the ‘Boomerang’ principle and the polarization of light. As a jack of all trades, this man also dabbled in literature. Unaipon became a writer as a result of the inspiration he derived from the works of eminent writers such as John Munyan and John Milton. Among his acclaimed literary works is ‘Myths and Legends of the Australian Aboriginals,’ the result of his extensive research into the tribal race. David’s contributions to society also earned him a spot on the Australian $50 bill.

Childhood & Adolescence

David was born on 28th September 1872 in Point Mcleay Mission, Australia to James Ngunaitponi and Nymbulda. He is one of his parents’ nine children.

He began his primary education at the ‘Point McLeay Mission School’ when he was seven years old but left at the age of thirteen to work for C.B Young, a popular politician and pastoralist.

Young was impressed by the boy’s intelligence, and he encouraged Unaipon to pursue his interests in literature, music, and science.

Unaipon moved to Adelaide in the 1890s in search of work, but he was denied opportunities due to his dark skin.

After a lengthy and exhausting job search, he eventually found work in Adelaide as an apprentice to a bootmaker. He did not remain at this job for long, however, and began working at ‘The Point McLeay Store’.

Career of David Unaipon

David began his career in the early 1900s as an employee of the ‘Aborigines’ Friends Association, a group dedicated to promoting Aboriginal Australians’ rights.

One of his greatest achievements was the invention of the’shearing’ device, which was primarily used to extract sheep fur. During this time period, he obtained up to 19 patents for numerous other similar inventions, which included an idea for a centrifugal motor.

Among his other notable accomplishments, this great man invented a helicopter based on the boomerang principle.

He even explored Optics, a subject that piqued his interest, and went on to conduct research on light polarisation. By 1914, Unaipon’s works had garnered widespread attention, earning him the moniker ‘Australia’s Leonardo’.

David was also fascinated by literature, which drew the attention of the prestigious ‘University of Adelaide’. David had been assigned by the institution to compile facts, interesting stories, and anecdotes about indigenous Australians.

David was also a long-time employee of the illustrious newspaper ‘The Sydney Telegraph’, having contributed numerous articles to the daily since 1924.

David eventually published his research on indigenous people in the form of three booklets between 1927 and 1929.

He even wrote books on his other interests, including helicopter flight patterns and the concept of perpetual motion.

Apart from his affiliation with an Aboriginal organization and his writings about their lives, this great man fought for his clan’s political rights. He urged the Australian government to assist members of this community living in various states across the continent.

Significant Works of David

Unaipon published his research on the aboriginal community in 1930 under the title ‘Myths and Legends of the Australian Aboriginals’. The book was a critical success and was later reissued as ‘Legendary Tales of the Australian Aborigines’.

Honors and Commendations

Unaipon was one of a select group of eminent individuals to receive the Coronation medal in 1953.

Personal History and Legacies

Unaipon married Katherine Carter, a woman of Tangane ancestry, in 1902. David was invited to attend the prestigious Australian centennial Levee event in 1936, making him the first member of the aboriginal community to do so.

Unaipon died on February 7, 1967, in a hospital in Tailem Bend. In recognition of the man’s contributions to society, a division of the ‘University of South Australia’ has been named the ‘David Unaipon College of Indigenous Education and Research.

The Australian government established the ‘David Unaipon Literary Award’ to recognize emerging writers in recognition of his literary prowess.

The ‘Reserve Bank of Australia’ paid tribute to this great writer by printing his likeness on a $50 bill. His family members, on the other hand, protested the government’s use of his name without permission.

Estimated Net Worth

The net worth of David is unavailable.


This preacher and author preferred to converse in formal, classical English rather than the colloquial English used by commoners.