History of Sydney - Ancient History

Ancient History

The first people to occupy the area now known as Sydney were Australian Aborigines. Their presence in Australia began around 40,000-60,000 years ago with the arrival in Northern Australia of the first of their ancestors by boat from what is now Indonesia. Their descendants moved south and, though their population was never large, they occupied all areas of Australia, including Sydney.

The area surrounding Port Jackson (Sydney Harbour) was home to several Aboriginal tribes. The "Eora people" are the coastal Aborigines of the Sydney district. The name Eora simply means "here" or "from this place", and was used by Local Aboriginal people to describe to the British where they came from. The Cadigal band are the traditional owners of the Sydney CBD area, and their territory south of Port Jackson stretches from South Head to Petersham. Consequently, they were first to suffer the effects of dispossession when the British arrived, though the descendants of Eora still have a strong presence in the Sydney area today. Other than the Eora, people of the Dharug, Kuringgai and Dharawal language groups occupied the lands in and around Sydney. Their occupation pre-dates the arrival of the First Fleet of British by some thousands of years. Examples of Aboriginal stone tools and Aboriginal art (often recording the stories of the Dreamtime religion) can be found throughout New South Wales: even within the metropolis of modern Sydney, as in Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park.

Sydney is thought to have the finest collection of rock carvings in the world because it is made up predominantly of sandstone, which is a suitable surface for rock carvings. In the late 19th century, excavations for a canal in Alexandria (south-east of the city) uncovered evidence of Aboriginal settlement in that area estimated to date back at least 7000 years; more recent evidence discovered in caves near Glenbrook in the lower Blue Mountains, west of the city, indicates Aboriginal occupation of that region dating back at least 20,000 years.

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