Topics: Culture: North Coastal

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1796 - view

Fishermen shipwrecked in Broken Bay are welcomed by Koories, fed and shown the way back to Port Jackson. They arrive back with a story that a white woman is living “amongst the blacks”. A volunteer boat returns to the Bay but finds no evidence.

1796 - view

Koori people are “beginning to annoy the settlers” on the Hawkesbury, John Lacy operating a passenger boat from Sydney to the Hawkesbury is killed. Governor Hunter asks settlers to “mutually afford assistance to each other by assembling when ever any numerous body of the natives are known to be lurking about”. (HRNSW vol 3, p. 26)

1820 - view

Macquarie gives the Russians freedom to investigate the local Koori conditions, social life and dealings with colonial officials. Those whom they see along the north side of the harbour are “extremely lean and quite black in colour … They subsist on a mixed diet of shell fish and fish, forest products, and exchange their fish for British goods. They hunt and the women fish or gather bush food, then they withdraw into the bush at night. They sleep by fires and never lack a fire, embers even burn in the noon day heat”. Mikhailov writes of Bungaree’s family “Sometimes they ornament their head with bird’s bones or fish bones, or the tail of a dog or kangaroo teeth; and sometimes they plait their hair, smearing it with gummy sap of a plant so that it resembles rope ends. They stain the face and body with red earth … When a youth reaches man’s estate [ie manhood], two of his front teeth are knocked out. As for the girls, in early youth they have two joints of the little finger of the left hand cut off”.   Since the men in Bungaree’s group were often absent from Kirribili, Mikhailov concentrated in his painting on the women and children. Volendens,Gulanba Duby, Gouroungan, Ga-ouen-ren, Matora. Male figures drawn are Boongaree, Bourinoan, Movat, Salmanda, Boin (Bowen) and Toubi (Toby).

1823 - view

James Webb, at Booker Bay on the Central Coast, has a working knowledge of Aboriginal languages. He helps to negotiate with Koories at the Rip and at Booker Bay to clear the forest. Koori men are good at working with saw and axes, women help with feeding animals and working around the farm.

1826 - view

The missionary LE Threlkeld publishes Aboriginal poetry from Lake Macquarie in the Sydney Gazette. ( Sydney Gazette , 5 January 1826) Immha, immah va Gnora worrayn na, gash, bah, yah, kummah, hi j (No translation)

1832 - view

Prospects for farming are limited due to the rocky nature of the land; it is more profitable to cut timber and gather shells from Aboriginal middens for burning into lime to make mortar for Sydney buildings. Aboriginal burials are sometimes hidden in middens.

1832 - view

Skulls from Aboriginal burials are taken as souvenirs.

1837 - view

William Govett travels to the Northern Beaches to make a government report. He describes Koori people fishing from headlands, “With only simple tackle, the Aborigines could catch as many fish as they needed … One Aboriginal caught 8 snapper in less than half an hour”. Govett borrows a line from the man and soon snags it on a rock. The man responds “I believe you hook him rock, murray (very) stupid you”.

1840s - view

He visits an Aboriginal camp near Camp Cove where “about a dozen natives of the Sydney and Broken Bay tribes were encamped”, and persuades ‘Old Queen Gooseberry’, Bungaree’s widow, to explain to him what she knew of the North Head carvings. She initially objects, saying that these places were ‘koradjee ground’ or ‘priests’ ground’ that she must not visit. After she was encouraged to row across the harbour with them in a whale boat, she “consented at the last to guide us to several spots near the North head, where she said the carvings existed in great numbers, as also impressions of hands upon the sides of high rocks”.

1842 - view

Descendants today tell of the last recorded corroboree at Chittawai Point. The ashes of the old people were put in the lake.

1842 - view

John F Mann an early settler on the Central coast, records that ‘Tuggerah’ in Aboriginal language means ‘cold, bleak, exposed’.

1846 - view

NSW Legislative Council Select Committee takes evidence from Reverend John McKenny: “The numbers (of Aboriginal people) were greatly diminished … about 5 years ago by an epidemic said to be measles which carried off a great many”. There are many reported cases of white men living with Aboriginal women and having children.

1846 - view

The Reverend John Polding declares “I conceive that there is established in the minds of the black population a sentiment that the whites are essentially unjust … founded on the fact of the whites coming to take possession of their lands, without giving them what deemed an equivalent … to trespass upon the hunting grounds of another tribe is deemed by them a cause of war.”

1847 - view

Reverend John Gregory states “that settlers believed the Aborigines were decreed by God to a position of innate inferiority from which the only escape was an inevitable extinction” . Threlkeld had a mission station near Lake Macquarie. He stated that the Aborigines had strayed from God’s path and as a result were doomed.

1848 - view

Census shows a population of 50 Koori people in the whole of the Brisbane Waters area. Inland Aboriginal people continue through the 1850s to make annual pilgrimages to the coast.

1860s - view

Traces of Christmas feasts have been found in the shell middens around the caves.

1868 - view

Corroborees held at Manly on the site of several churches above Careening Cove. During the visit of Albert Prince of Wales, the Koori visitors come from different Guringai, Darkinyung and Garigal areas to dance a large corroboree. They camp at ‘Fassifern’ a property belonging to the Loxton family, on a flat piece of ground between Kurraba Rd Bridge and Aubin St near a waterfall, at rear of Dalmarnock cottage. They camp every year to receive annual blanket and rations for Queen’s birthday. LF Mann writes, “I well remember watching a number of the original inhabitants of this country camping and practising for this great event, making boomerangs from local trees and using them, as they danced around, their bodies painted in many designs.”

1870s - view

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.

1874 - view

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.

1874 - view

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.”