The Cannalgal clan (Camaraigal, Ga-mariagal) are the first Indigenous peoples to meet the English settlers in Sydney Harbour. The clan are coastal people living between Manly Beach to Dee Why in the north.

On 22 January, two cutters and a long boat sail into the harbour. Captain Arthur Phillip watches the Aboriginal men who wade into the water without their spears to examine the English boats. Phillip writes “their confidence and manly behaviour made me give the name Manly Cove to this place”. Phillip’s Instructions are to “conciliate their affections … maintain friendly relations with the natives if possible”.

Later in the year, Phillip sets out in 3 small vessels to explore Broken Bay. “They were met by a great number of the Natives, Men, Women and Children, the men well armed. very friendly”. In Pittwater they meet an old Koori man and a boy. The old man then helps them gather leaves for their beds. He takes off with a metal spade but the soldiers force him to return it. The man raises his spear but when the soldiers threaten him with muskets he backs down. “[T]his roused the anger of Phillip, who seemed to think that even a ‘savage’ ought to understand the rights of property, and he showed his displeasure to the thief”. (Anderson 1920, p. 22)


Capture of Arabanoo, a Kayeemaigal man, at Manly Cove, and on Governor Phillip’s orders.

The boats proceeded to Manly Cove, where several Indians were seen standing on the beach, who were enticed by courteous behavior and a few presents to enter into conversation. A proper opportunity being presented, our people rushed in among them, and seized two men. The rest fled, but the cries of the captives soon brought them back, with many others to their rescue … only one of them was secured; the other effected his escape … an attack from the shore instantly commenced.

  • Spearing of Governor Phillip at Manly 1790, by the 'Port Jackson Painter', (Manly Museum and Gallery)

In talking about Arabanoo, Marine Captain Watkin Tench writes “Indeed the gentleness and humanity of his disposition frequently displayed themselves … When our children … used to flock around him, he never failed to fondle them.” (Tench 1996, p. 95)

In the same year,

A journey of explorationis undertaken to Broken Bay and the Hawkesbury River, and survey of Broken Bay.

William Bradley’s painting depicts Pittwater from Bayview. In this image there are English soldiers shaking hands and dancing with Koories. There are ten canoes with Koories fishing, while others crowd around the shores in an apparently harmonious meeting. On many occasions Phillip and his officers present gifts such as mirrors, clothes and hatchets to the Koories. (Bradley 1969)

  • Pittwater

Bennelong (A Wangal man) and Colbee (Cadigal) are captured at Manly.

Koori people have no resistance to European diseases; some die even due to the common cold.

A smallpox epidemic devastates Indigenous population around Sydney. Bodies of are washed up on the shores of the harbour. In a journey to Broken Bay, Phillip on 6 June writes

In many places our path was covered with skeletons and the same spectacle were to be met with in hollows of most of the rocks of that harbour”. Captain Hunter saw at Broken Bay “a native girl … just recovered from small pox, and lame, she appeared to be 17 or 18 years of age, and had covered her debilitated and naked body with wet grass … she was very much frightened on our approaching her and shed many tears … we soothed her distress a little, and the sailors were ordered to bring up some fire for her.

  • Phillip and Party visiting a smallpox victim and child; by John Hunter, (State Library of NSW)

In a second expedition (to Broken Bay) ”the river received the name Hawkesbury … natives were found labouring under small pox. They did not attempt to commit hostilities against the boats” (Tench 1996, p. 110)