Indigenous History

Aboriginal Dancers
               Photo: Gordon Hammond

Sydney Olympic Park is situated on the traditional lands of the Wann clan, known as the Wann-gal. The lands of the Wann-gal stretched along the southern shore of the Parramatta River between Cockle Bay (Cadi-gal land) and Rose Hill (Burramatta-gal land). Across the river were the Wallumetta-gal.

The Wann-gal and their ancestors have lived in the Homebush Bay area for thousands of years. Physical evidence of the usage of the Homebush Bay area by Aboriginal people has been found in the form of stone artefacts located at the site. In addition, several scarred trees have been found within remnant forest. Aboriginal shell middens (campsites where shellfish and other foods were consumed) were known to have lined Homebush Bay and the Parramatta River but were destroyed in the limekilns in the eighteenth and nineteenth century and subsequent alterations to the shoreline.

The estuarine ecosystems provided the Aboriginal communities with food, clothing and other resources necessary to their lifestyle as well as a means of travelling throughout the region by water. Aboriginal people were still using the Homebush Bay area, even after their lands were granted to Europeans. Several encounters and conflicts between Europeans and Aboriginal people are documented for the Homebush Bay area throughout the 1790s, and in the early 1800s Aboriginal people were working for and supplying fish to the Blaxlands on their Newington Property but by the 1850s the records become more scarce.

In the early twentieth century, many Aboriginal people migrated into Sydney from elsewhere in New South Wales looking for work, or to join family already here. Some of these people settled close to Homebush Bay and worked in the local industries (e.g. abattoirs and the Naval base).

Today Sydney Olympic Park is within the asserted traditional cultural boundary of the Darug language group, of which the Wanngal clan is said to have belonged. The descendents of Darug traditional owners of the Sydney area play a custodial role in the preservation of Aboriginal cultural heritage and are actively involved with archaeological and historical research in and around Homebush Bay. The area also falls within the administrative boundary of the Metropolitan Local Aboriginal Land Council who also play a major role in the investigation and preservation of Aboriginal culture and heritage.

Take a journey through the Aboriginal Timeline showing some of the most significant dates and events in Aboriginal history since European arrival.