Two Aboriginal men who saved the lives of 68 people during a flood are being officially honoured for their bravery more than 160 years after their heroic feat.
Wiradjuri men Yarri and Jacky Jacky used large bark canoes to save lives when the Murrumbidgee River flooded the NSW Riverina town of Gundagai in June 1852.
As the floodwaters rose to record levels over the course of three days, the men piled stranded townspeople into their canoes and took them to safety.
Another 89 locals died as the town was swamped by two metres of water.
Yarri and Jacky Jacky – who later changed their names to James McDonnell and John Morley – were among 62 Australians honoured in the latest national bravery awards announced by Governor-General Sir Peter Cosgrove on Monday.
Both Yarri and Jacky Jacky, who worked day and night to rescue people, were each awarded posthumous bravery medals for their actions.
Gundagai locals last year honoured the pair with a large bronze statue in the town.
Sixteen other men and women also received bravery medals, including two teenage boys who saved a mate from a great white shark while surfing at Ballina on NSW’s north coast in September 2016, and a French tourist who saved a woman from drowning at Redgate Beach in Western Australia in November 2017.
The Star of Courage was awarded to Sydney doctor Martha Knox-Haly who rescued a colleague from a violent road rage attack at Carramar, in the city’s south west, in August 2015.
Two Northern Territory men who jumped into crocodile infested water to try to save a woman after the houseboat she was in capsized in October 2013 were also awarded national bravery medals.
Another 40 Australians received commendations for their brave conduct, while group bravery citations were announced for two groups of NSW police officers from Broken Hill and Noosa, along with another from Happy Valley in Queensland.
Sir Peter paid tribute to all the bravery awards recipients, describing each of them as a source of courage, support and inspiration.
“Sadly, there are those whose brave acts mean they are no longer with us,” he said.
“Today, to their families, I express the nation’s sadness at your loss but pride in your loved one’s actions.”