Aboriginal heritage

Since the Dreaming Aboriginal people have been part of what we now call Beecroft and Cheltenham for over 30,000 years. This date derives from the date of artefacts found some 15 m below the surface in a blue metal quarry near Penrith.[1] Little is known from that date until 1788. From 1788, when we can trace the beginning of their dispossession, the records talk of a people who communicated amongst themselves but who also identified differences which distinguished some from others. One difference was their language (called by some Dharug[2] and by others just the “Sydney language”) which appears to have been divided into two dialects in the Sydney basin, understood by each[3] – but differing.[4]
As their story unfolds it appears to confirm that this land of Beecroft and Cheltenham was more closely connected to the people centred around Parramatta River and Sydney Harbour whereas just to the north, perhaps even as close as Thornleigh, the people of that land were connected to the Hawkesbury. To the west, perhaps even as close as Thompson’s Corner the people lived more in the woods and less dependant on the waterways. But these are broad general statements and may hold no more validity than to say of a modern day Beecroft resident that they aspire more to a bush view than a beach one.

[1] E Stockton “The search for the first Sydneysiders” in P Stanbury (ed) 10,000 years of Sydney Life (Sydney, 1979) p 52

[2] A term not used before 1901 but now adopted by descendants: M Powell & R Hesline “Making tribes? Constructing Aboriginal tribal entities in Sydney and coastal NSW from the early colonial period to the present” (2010) 96 JRAHS 115 at 136

[3] For those who argue for a single language see: Rev Lancelot Threkeld (1828) quoted in K V Smith King Bungaree (Sydney, 1992) p 24; J Troy The Sydney Language  Canberra, 1993)

[4] For those arguing for two dialects see: A Capell “Aboriginal languages in the south central coast, New  South Wales: fresh discoveries” Oceania (1970) Vol 41, 20-27.; V Attenbrow Sydney’s Aboriginal Past (Sydney, 2002) pp30-36. William Walker writing in 1821 said “The languages of all of these tribes are different, so much so that one tribe rarely understands another in every particular.” Quoted in J Brook & J L Kohen The Parramatta Native Institution and the Blacktown: A History (Kensington, 1991) p 122.