top of page

Watching whales - 1845

171 years ago the Sydney Morning Herald reported that Aboriginal people had brought word to Sydney town of a stranded whale near Bondi. The article was matter-of-fact because Aboriginal people were not an uncommon sight around Sydney nearly 60 years after the arrival of the first fleet in 1788. Many history books imply that Aboriginal people had disappeared from Sydney by this time, or were begging on the fringes of the colony, but this story (and many others like it) shows that something very different was going on. Aboriginal groups were still living around Sydney Harbour and Botany Bay in this period, including places like Bondi. And they were not in hiding – they regularly visited Sydney town (todays CBD) to buy and sell goods, and to meet both Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal friends. You can check out the original story here ( and in the coming weeks and months, I will explore how and where these people lived. The story was over for the whale however. It was the whaling era, and Sydneysiders rushed to the scene not to push the whale out to sea, but to pull it ashore!

Featured Review
bottom of page