Governor Phillip leads a boat expedition “inland”

July 1 Governor Phillip leads a boat expedition “inland” into the ranges along the Hawkesbury River Branches. They come into first contact with Darkinung Aborigines who are roasting “wild yams” in a camp fire on the river bank. They later find yams in “greatest plenty” on the marshy banks. The explorers reach a fork and row up the Macdonald River. They take an afternoon stroll along the bank and approach a small bark gunyah. A young Aboriginal woman darts away into the trees. The men examine the hut and find two small children eating roasted yams. Further upstream at Ebenezer and Sackville, they observe Aborigines harvesting yams, banks that are “ploughed” and other signs of occupancy: the setting of animal traps. When the river branches again, Phillip’s party follow the Colo River, this time observing Aborigines in canoes who “flee into the woods”.

Not all of the mountain people met in the river valleys flee. Two Darkinung men seek to trade with the newcomers near Wilberforce. After being attracted from the bush to the riverbank by calls of “Co-wee”, they readily accept the gift of a freshly shot duck and steel hatchet in return for hand woven twine and a spear. Offering their spear may have had ritual value akin to laying down one’s arms for trading. Phillip’s party observe that these river people expect to trade. (Ford, 29-41). Although the two groups did not understand each others’ language, they communicate in the vicinity of a an important centre for Darkinung society.