Tuesday, 18 April 2006

The original inhabitants of Arncliffe

The original inhabitants of the area were (perhaps) the Gweagal clan of the Dharug Nation. There does seem to be some confusion about this. One souce , the National Trust, says that the Gweagal people lived on the southern side of the Cooks River as far as the Georges River, from the shores of Botany Bay inland towards Liverpool. Other sources place the Gweagal people on the south side of the Georges River.

Anyway, the river provided fish, oysters, crustaceans, waterfowl and the valleys birds, eggs, possums, snakes, wallabies, goannas, wild honey, berries and nuts - in short, an abundant food supply.

Valleys of Wolli Creek and Bardwell Creek contain evidence of Aboriginal presence in smoke-blackened caves. (I took this photo on Nannygoat Hill *, a rocky outcrop amongst a stand of bushland along Wolli Creek). However, it appears that these may have acted as temporary shelters only for hunting parties, as the people lived more permanently along the abundant shores of Botany Bay. Middens have been found along the Bay, and the river, and were one source of lime in the days when lime was burned in order to provide the substance for the bricks and mortar for Sydney buildings.

The northern part of Arncliffe (now a high-rise housing subdivision called Wolli Creek) and some parkland is bordered by the Cook's River, named after - well, yes - Captain James Cook.

You can meet a Gweagal man, Rod Mason, an Aboriginal Discovery Ranger at Botany Bay National Park, at this website of the National Parks and Wildlife Service.

* Nannygoat Hill isn't itself in Postcode 2205, but it has great views over the entire area!

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