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Hidden Aboriginal History of Darling Point and surrounding areas

Rushcutters Bay Park has a hidden history. It is the former site of the world’s oldest living, continuous civilisation; a civilisation so old they had no reading, writing or arithmetic. 

They had very little clothing and no guns. They had spears for fishing and boomerangs for hunting and lived off the land the harbour which embraced them, from  where they caught fish and oysters. 

Their remainder oyster shells accumulated as mounds or middens and remain protected on the Elizabeth Bay harbour foreshore. They were not ”farmers” of arable land as we know the term today.

But they were survivors. And they had a rich mythology and art and music.

They lived and around Rushcutters Bay where today’s park is. Their life was severely disrupted by the arrival of the English convict camp..

Read more here:

Captain Cook noted in the Journal of HMS Endeavour of 23rd August 1770:

“From what I have said of the Natives of New Holland [Australia] they may appear to some to be the most wretched people upon earth, but in reality they are far more happier than we Europeans; being wholy [sic] unacquainted not only with the superfluous but the necessary conveniencies [sic] so much sought after in Europe, they are happy in not knowing the use of them. They live in a Tranquillity which is not disturb’d by the Inequality of the Condition …”


Read the original journal

Now a new book, Paddington: a history has been published by The Paddington Society, edited by Greg Young, published by NEWSOUTH Books, February 2019, and available at Macleay Book Shop, 14 Macleay Street, Potts Point NSW 2011 phone 9331 6642 email shop@pottspoint

Chapter one is written by Dr Paul Irish, a distinguished archaeologist and historian. He notes the possibility of locating indigenous archaeological remains in and around the park and the park’s heritage significance.


I quote some extracts and attach the first chapter of the book by Dr Irish for your edification.


“”Aboriginal people had known the Paddington area foro much longer [than the Europeans]”

We do not know how Aboriginal people lived in this landscape but we know  they were there”

“A harbour [which] teemed with fish that Aboriginal people expertly exploited … aboriginal people honed their toolkit to exploit the harbour’s resources”

“We do not have any archaeological evidence from Paddington  … because much was destroyed by urban development long before thought to look”

“Some things may yet be discovered in parks or backyards”

“They also used … Rushcutters Creek”

“[They used] foot tracks … to Rushcutters Bay”

“They lived in a number of autonomous camps across the eastern suburbs”

“An aboriginal settlement existed … at Rushcutters Bay ... in several shelters they constructed”

“The Rushcutters Bay settlement was not a randomly selected place but one which continued to have meaning to Aboriginal people … Ceremonies continued to take place there”

“The first recorded complaint …was made in 1895. Police came …”

“Aboriginal people retained knowledge of former settlements like [the] Rushcutters Bay camp”

“The abandonment of the Rushcutters settlement by 1900 appears to have ended the era of locally connected people”

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