The Jeraeil, a young men’s initiation ceremony of the GunaiKurnai people of Gippsland, Australia, ceased to be performed toward the end of the nineteenth century. Eager to witness and document the ceremony, anthropologist A. W. Howitt arranged for a performance of the Jeraeil in 1884. His published accounts of the Jeraeil have since been used as evidence of a distinctive type of ceremonial practice in southeastern Australia that was readily embraced by the GunaiKurnai as a vital part of their cultural heritage. This article describes the events that led to Howitt’s documentation of the ceremony, the key roles played by Aboriginal people in enabling this event to take place, and the authors’ recent rediscovery of the site of the last Jeraeil ground. Returning to the site more than 134 years later, the authors reflect on the significance of the place and how the site might be reinscribed in light of recent archival discoveries.

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