© Paul Irish 2017-2019

On this page I have shared some pieces of Sydney's Aboriginal history that feature in my book Hidden In Plain View: The Aboriginal People of Coastal Sydney, which is out now through NewSouth Publishing. The stories were posted in sync with the month that they occurred in the past. They are based on information in the public domain and I provide links where the source is available online. The language in some of these documents is not what I would use today, but I think that it is important to be able to see the original words. Aboriginal readers should also be aware that this blog discusses deceased Aboriginal people, mostly from the nineteenth century.

30 Mar 2017

In March of 1880 newspapers reported the death of 61 year old Edward Smith Hill at his home in Woollahra. The obituary noted that he was ‘the friend of the aborigines of the colony’, hinting at the deep links Edward forged with local Aboriginal people throughout his li...

20 Mar 2017

In the last post we saw how Aboriginal people had been gathering in their hundreds around Sydney in February and early March 1868. They were preparing to perform a ceremony for Prince Alfred (Queen Victoria’s son and the first member of the royal family to visit Austra...

27 Feb 2017

In late February 1868 the Sydney Morning Herald reported that a feast was to be held in Sydney in March to give Aboriginal people a chance to meet Prince Alfred (Queen Victoria’s son) – the first member of the royal family to visit Australia. The wording of the article...

20 Feb 2017

[PLEASE NOTE THAT THIS BLOG POST DISCUSSES ABORIGINAL SKELETAL REMAINS]

As we saw in last week’s blog post, by the 1860s most Europeans believed that there were no ‘authentic’ coastal Sydney people left. It was a way of dismissing the Aboriginal people who remained as h...

13 Feb 2017

As I have written about in past posts, Aboriginal people were still a part of Sydney life in the 1840s. Many European Sydneysiders knew them by name and also had an idea of which ‘tribe’ they came from - the Sydney tribe, Botany tribe, Liverpool tribe, Port Hacking tri...

30 Jan 2017

In early February 1850 the Sydney Morning Herald reported the death on 31 January of Mahroot (also known as Boatswain), aged in his fifties. Mahroot’s death was newsworthy because he was a leader of his group at Botany Bay, and was ‘a favourite with all who knew him, a...

20 Jan 2017

In the 1840s, the eastern suburbs was still largely uncleared scrub with the occasional interspersed house - prime tinder for bushfires. In January 1845, a fire broke out in the bush on the large Cooper and Holt estates at Point Piper, and was heading towards their hom...

15 Jan 2017

In the blog post of 19/12/16, we heard about the Christmas feast hosted by Sydney businessman Charles Smith for several dozen Aboriginal men and women in 1844. The guests included Aboriginal people living in Sydney and some who had travelled from the Shoalhaven area ab...

18 Dec 2016

On Christmas Day in 1844 several dozen Aboriginal men and women entered the back yard of Charles Smith’s residence and butcher shop opposite the Sydney Markets (todays QVB). They were said to have come from the ‘tribes’ of Woolloomooloo and the Shoalhaven, and were pro...

11 Dec 2016

Last week we saw how local man William Warrell often travelled into Sydney town from Aboriginal settlements in the Domain and elsewhere in the 1840s. Though he had friends in town, as this week’s story shows, Sydney could also be a rough place for Aboriginal people. A...

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