Painting, Just arrived at Cundletown; George Herman Bruhn; 1870; W107


Port Macquarie Museum


Painting, Just arrived at Cundletown

About this object

This picture titled “Just arrived at Cundletown” was painted in the late 1850s by Dr George Herman Bruhn. It is simply drawn, and childlike or naïve in style, and shows a passenger steamer next to the Cundletown wharf, with people and packages on the wharf. It also includes drawings of houses and house yards with people and animals, and a small sailing boat and a fishing boat in the water adjacent to the wharf. The town had been laid out similar to an English village with squares and radiating roads by an English surveyor in about 1844, and the painting reflects an orderliness in the grid patterns of the house blocks.

Dr Bruhn was born in Germany [1810 – 1889] and came to Australia with his wife and four children in 1847, settling initially in Adelaide, South Australia, before moving to Victoria. In about 1856, he moved to Cundletown NSW where he was the town’s first resident physician and surgeon.

Dr Bruhn also had qualifications and experience as a Chemist and in Agriculture, Geology and Mining, and it was he who found the first gold in Victoria at Clunes in 1851, thus starting the ‘gold rushes’ in that State in the 1850s. Subsequently he lectured throughout Victoria and NSW, and was regarded as an expert about the types of soils and environments in which gold might be found. After his short stay in Cundletown, he worked as the local doctor in Maclean, but then moved to Bundarra in the New England region of NSW in 1863, where he was again involved with mining and gold prospecting.

This painting does not make use of good quality art materials, nor does it display the skill and style of a professional artist, but it does indicate that the painter was meticulous and had a good eye for detail, and for recording that detail.

Dr Bruhn is known to have painted many scenes along the north coast of NSW and elsewhere, and they all used similar techniques and colours. Perhaps he had limited access to resources as he travelled around the country, and perhaps too, the paintings were made not so much as to illustrate his artistic talents, but to record local landscapes, rock formations, vegetation and daily activities, in much the same way as we take photographic records of our travels today.

This painting provides a rare glimpse of the township of Cundletown as it was in the late 1850s. Cundletown is situated at the junction of the Dawson and Manning Rivers and it was one of the major centres of commerce in the Manning Valley at that time.

The painting portrays the myriad of activities that once took place along the riverfront and illustrates the vital importance of the river and waterways in facilitating communication, and supporting the development of the settlement and ultimately, in contributing to the well-being of the community and its residents.

Margaret Blight
26 July 2014


George Herman Bruhn

Maker Role


Date Made


Medium and Materials

paper, paint, ink

Inscription and Marks

Signed at the bottom left hand corner 'GH Bruhn Dr'


32mmL, 195mmW

Credit Line

This painting was professionally conserved in 2016 with assistance from the Maritime Museums of Australia Support Scheme (MMAPSS) administered by the Australian National Maritime Museum. The Maritime Museums of Australia Project Support Scheme (MMAPSS) is funded by the Australian Government and the Australian National Maritime Museum.

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