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The National Portrait Gallery acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of Country throughout Australia and recognises the continuing connection to lands, waters and communities. We pay our respect to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures and to Elders both past and present.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander viewers are warned that this website contains images of deceased persons.

The Gallery’s Acknowledgement of Country, and information on culturally sensitive and restricted content and the use of historic language in the collection can be found here.

Herb Wharton, Cunnamulla, Qld

2004
John Elliott

type C photograph on paper (sheet: 60.7 cm x 50.6 cm, image: 50.0 cm x 33.0 cm)

Herb Wharton AM (b. 1936), Kooma Elder, poet and author, was born at Yumba, an Aboriginal camp near the Queensland town of Cunnamulla. He began writing poetry in his fifties, after a long career as a stockman, drover and labourer. In 1990 he entered several poems in a competition for unpublished Aboriginal writers, and as a result was commissioned to write a novel for the University of Queensland Press. The resulting book, 1992's Unbranded, drew on Wharton's experiences as a stockman in the Australian interior. This was followed by the fictional works Cattle Camp (1994) and Where Ya' Been, Mate? (1996), as well as the autobiography Yumba Days (1999), written during a residency at the Australia Council's Paris studio. A frequent participant in major literary festivals throughout Australia and the world, Wharton's awards include the Australian Council Award for Lifetime Achievement in Literature (2012).

From 2004 to 2005, the National Portrait Gallery held an exhibition of photographer John Elliott's work, Thousand Mile Stare. As Elliott noted of this photograph: 'One of my favourite shots in the show is of the Aboriginal ex-drover and writer, Herb Wharton. I'd never seen Herb without his hat and I asked him to take it off. Herb's a really handsome man and has the most beautiful head of silver hair, so I decided I'd use the shot without his hat.'

Gift of the artist 2005
© John Elliott

The National Portrait Gallery respects the artistic and intellectual property rights of others. Works of art from the collection are reproduced as per the Australian Copyright Act 1968 (Cth). The use of images of works from the collection may be restricted under the Act. Requests for a reproduction of a work of art can be made through a Reproduction request. For further information please contact NPG Copyright.

Artist and subject

John Elliott (age 53 in 2004)

Herb Wharton AM (age 68 in 2004)

Donated by

John Elliott (19 portraits)

Related information

The Companion

Permanent collection catalogue

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On one level The Companion talks about the most famous and frontline Australians, but on another it tells us about ourselves: who we read, who we watch, who we listen to, who we cheer for, who we aspire to be, and who we'll never forget. The Companion is available to buy online and in the Portrait Gallery Store.

Herb Wharton, Cunnamulla, Qld
Herb Wharton, Cunnamulla, Qld
Herb Wharton, Cunnamulla, Qld
Herb Wharton, Cunnamulla, Qld

Thousand mile stare

Magazine article by Simon Elliott, 2004

John Elliott talks about his photographic portrait practice, including his iconic image of Slim Dusty arm-in-arm with Dame Edna Everage.

Stan Coster, Manilla, NSW
Stan Coster, Manilla, NSW
Stan Coster, Manilla, NSW
Stan Coster, Manilla, NSW

Thousand Mile Stare

Portrait photography by John Elliott

Previous exhibition, 2004

Thousand mile stare provides a unique portrait of people of rural Australia

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The National Portrait Gallery acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of Country throughout Australia and recognises the continuing connection to lands, waters and communities. We pay our respect to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures and to Elders past and present. We respectfully advise that this site includes works by, images of, names of, voices of and references to deceased people.

This website comprises and contains copyrighted materials and works. Copyright in all materials and/or works comprising or contained within this website remains with the National Portrait Gallery and other copyright owners as specified.

The National Portrait Gallery respects the artistic and intellectual property rights of others. The use of images of works of art reproduced on this website and all other content may be restricted under the Australian Copyright Act 1968 (Cth). Requests for a reproduction of a work of art or other content can be made through a Reproduction request. For further information please contact NPG Copyright.

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