A smallpox epidemic sweeps through the coast people

A smallpox epidemic sweeps through the coast people and spreads inland. It affects the Aborigines in the Hawkesbury-Hunter Ranges. (Ford p33) While Collins observes around Sydney Harbour that “bodies of many of the wretched natives of this country” lie upon beaches, rocks and coves” caused by “the smallpox”, an official report to Britain declares that half the Aboriginal people between the Hawkesbury and Botany Bay die during April and May and concludes that the disease must have “spread to a great distance”. This includes the Hunter, especially given the interactions of Hunter Gooris with those from the Hawkesbury. Many pock-marked Gooris are observed in the Hunter Valley in 1810 (Arwarbukarl Cultural Resource Association, ACRA)

When Governor Phillip returns to Broken Bay, many have died of small pox and some survivors are recovering. This contrasts sharply with the earlier excursion during which there are so many Aborigines on the shores that apprehensive explorers camp in their boats. (Ford p34).

Gov Phillip with Captain Hunter and others explore Broken Bay. They see the river the Aborigines call Deerubin and return again to determine its source. They reach Richmond Hill. Over half of the population of southeastern Australia perish within three years of British arrival and long before they reach more remote areas (Joan Lawrence, Pictorial History: Pittwater, p4).