Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Aboriginal Newtown


Over the next two weeks, my little church will be exploring issues to do with Aboriginal relations and reconcilliation. I'm responsible for the historical content of our meetings, and thought I'd post some interesting facts about the aboriginal history of the very place where cottage church actually meets.

1. The Newtown area was part of the land of the Cadigal band of the Eora people, who ranged across the entire area from the southern shores of Sydney Harbour to Botany Bay in the south-east and Petersham in the west. It was through the land management methods of the aboriginal people that the extensive grasslands of predominantly Kangaroo Grass, commented upon by officers of the first fleet, were maintained as ideal breeding grounds for kangaroos.

2. King Street follows an ancient Aboriginal track that branched out from the main western track (now Parramatta Road), and continued all the way to the coastal plains around Botany Bay. According to the colonial diarist Watkin Tench, when Europeans arrived in Sydney it was possible to walk easily all the way from Sydney Cove to Botany Bay in a few hours, through a grassy and lightly-wooded area that Tench described as being like English parkland. The predominant grass of the area was Kangaroo Grass, of which a substantial remnant continues to exist within Camperdown Cemetery.

3. Speaking of Camperdown cemetery, this was the final resting place of several Aborigines. One we know about was called Tommy, an eleven year old boy who died of bronchitis in the Sydney Infirmary. He was buried in a section of the Cemetery now located outside the wall. A sandstone obelisk erected in 1944 by the Rangers League of NSW, remembers Tommy and three other Aborigines buried there - Mogo, William Perry and Mandelina. There’s also a memorial to Mogo in Newtown park, under a tree on the Courthouse hotel side.

Pic: heritage listed kangaroo grass at Camperdown cemetery, a matter of meters from where my church meets.

10 comments:

byron smith said...

The kangaroo grass is heritage listed?

meredith said...

yes, apparently. i'm not sure of the technical side of it, or what such a classifcation means, but i've been told on many occassions that its got some kind of heritage order on it.

gbroughto said...

the same with the kangaroo grass in the grounds at St Marks National Theological Centre in Canberra. Ask Tom Frame about it some time... he's not a big fan (of its heritage listing...)

Australian Visa Immigration said...

Looks like a scary place from the movie I watch. Anyway, I think this is one of the Sydney's three main early cemeteries that still exists.

Katherine said...

hey thats interesting about King street, i'd never heard that before

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