Aboriginal Timeline

More information about the history of Aboriginal people in the Homebush Bay area:

More than 20,000 years ago

The Sydney area has had over 20,000 years (at least 1,000 generations) of continuous occupation by Aboriginal people. Aboriginal people were most likely living in the area now known as Homebush Bay by this time.

15,000 to 6,000 years ago

As the last Ice Age (which occurred about 20,000 years ago) came to an end rising seas submerged large areas of Sydney's old coast and river valleys, creating the environment of Homebush Bay first seen by Europeans in 1788. Aboriginal people would have lived through and adapted to these changes at Homebush Bay.

6,000 years ago to early 1800s

Aboriginal people lived in and around Homebush Bay, using its varied and abundant resources.


Homebush Bay was part of the estate of the Wann-gal, whose lands stretch along the southern side of the Parramatta River between Cockle Bay (now known as Darling Harbour) and Rose Hill.


The First Fleet arrived from Britain.  Homebush Bay was first visited by Europeans in February and described as 'The Flats' after the extensive mangroves and mud flats of the area. A European settlement is established on Burramatta-gal land at Rose Hill. Contact between the Wann-gal at Homebush Bay and the Europeans begins with boat traffic along the Parramatta River between Sydney Cove and Rose Hill and escaped and lost convicts and marines straying into the Homebush Bay area from Rose Hill (Parramatta).


Smallpox claimed the lives of many Aboriginal people in the Sydney area and is likely to have severely changed cultural practices of the Wann-gal at Homebush Bay.


Aboriginal man Balloderry speared a convict at or near Homebush in retaliation for the destruction of his canoe, which he had been using to catch fish to trade with the Europeans at Parramatta.


The appropriation of Wann-gal lands at Homebush Bay began with land grants around the present day Bicentennial Park area.


Despite many small land grants in the area, it remained largely uncleared and is likely to have had continued use by Aboriginal people.

Early 1800s

Aboriginal people were working for and trading fish with the Blaxland family at their Newington Estate on the Parramatta River.


Bennelong, a Wann-gal man, passed away and was buried within the property of James Squires at Kissing Point (Ryde), with whom he had lived his final years.


By the 1830s, Aboriginal people along the Parramatta River were living in small groups at several locations. The closest to Homebush being Kissing Point (Ryde), on the other side of the river from Homebush. This group, known to Europeans as the 'Kissing Point Tribe' may have included some Wann-gal people from Homebush Bay.

Late 1800s

It is not known whether Aboriginal people were using or living at or around Homebush Bay, although it is highly likely from what is known about other parts of the Parramatta River.

Early to Mid 1900s

Aboriginal people from La Perouse occasionally visited the Homebush Bay mangroves to collect mangrove wood suitable for the production of boomerangs for tourists.

Mid 1900s  

Aboriginal people number amongst the many industrial workers of Homebush, such as in the abattoir, brickworks and the Newington naval base.


Aboriginal stone artefacts discovered at Homebush Bay near the Newington Village site, as the process of remediating and developing the site commenced.

Late 1990s

Prior to the 2000 Olympic Games, Sydney Local Aboriginal Land Councils, Traditional Owner and Descendant groups were involved in researching the Aboriginal usage of the Homebush Bay area.


Olympic Games held at Sydney Olympic Park had strong Aboriginal cultural themes in the opening ceremony and an Aboriginal culture and history pavilion at the Olympic site. Cathy Freeman won an Olympic Gold Medal at Sydney Olympic Park in the 400m.


Saw the commencement of the Aboriginal History and Connections Program at Homebush and the inaugural Sydney Dreaming Festival.


Aboriginal stone artefacts and an axe-marked tree, used by Aboriginal people for hunting possums, was located within Newington Nature Reserve. This finding demonstrates the usage of the Sydney Olympic Park area by Aboriginal people both before and after the arrival of Europeans at Homebush Bay.