Manly carrier RJ Wild claims to have witnessed the last Aboriginal corroboree in Manly held on vacant land near St Matthew’s Church on the Corso in the late 1870s. (Swancott nd, p. 70).

  • Fireworks outside Steyne Hotel. Manly, 1864
  • St Mathews Church where the corroborees were held behind the building
  • Manly Beach, Port Jackson, Courtesy Manly Museum and Gallery


Death recorded of Dickey (Bungaree) Sydney, age 27 years.


Mrs Janet Kennedy (nee Williams) recalls “that the Manly district contained a number of Aboriginal camps”. (Kennedy 1937) The people were living on a mixture of British food (especially tea, flour and sugar) and bush tucker.

  • Banksia cone for fuel
  • Bush nuts (Macadamia)
  • Gymea Lily for nectar
  • Port Jackson figs
  • Port Jackson figs

Mrs O’Shanessy, a daughter of ferry engineer Robert Grant recalls “Where the Catholic Church now stands in Whistler Street there was an aboriginal camp that was nearly always occupied by a tribe of the coastal blacks, then an everyday feature of Manly’s life.” (Manly Council 1910, Official Jubilee History)

  • Manly Beach, Port Jackson, Courtesy Manly Museum and Gallery


Billy Fawkner was a Koori servant of the Ward family in Brisbane Waters, who helped to raise the children. During the 1860s and 70s he would travel to Dural to sell oysters and fish. With the money he would buy tea, sugar, flour, tobacco and pipes from the general store. The poet Henry Kendall knew Billy and wrote about him. King Billy’s cave was about 2 kilometres south of Berowra Creek. His wife Sal is said to have lived in a nearby cave. (Local Colour, 1977)