Sydney Basin country traditionally belongs to people of several nations or language groups, including Guringai, Darug, and Dharawal (alternate spellings are Kuring-gai, Dharug and Tharawal). The lands of the Darkinjung and Gandangara converge with the Sydney Basin to the northwest and southwest respectively. The clans of Sydney’s Northern shore and beaches including the Carigal, Cammeraigal, Gayimai and Cannalgal are understood by many to belong to the Guringai language group, whose country extends from the Lane Cove River to the Pacific coast, and from the north shore of Port Jackson (Sydney Harbour) to the Tuggerah Lake area.

The arrival of the First Fleet in 1788 to what we now call Sydney Harbour devastated the local Aboriginal people, who battled disease, pollution and a calculated scheme of dislocation. Despite years of resistance, and survival of many descendants, most of the traditional custodian of the Sydney Basin at that time were killed and their societies ripped apart. Despite this descendent of the traditional custodian the Guringai people live in the areas of greater Northern Sydney today.

Two books published in recent years by Aboriginal authors, The Tale of a Whale by Emma Lee and Repossession of Our Spirit by Dennis Foley, add new perspectives to the early European historical accounts of the Aboriginal people of Sydney’s Northern Beaches. Another excellent resource is Sydney’s Aboriginal Past by Val Attenbrow.

These books and others are referenced in the Resources section of this website.