Thursday, February 4, 2010

Aboriginal Australia Before 1788

The anonymous convict artist now known only as 'The Port Jackson Painter' had more success than most early artists in depicting the appearance and lifestyle of the Sydney Aboriginal people, as shown in the painting.

From at least 60,000 B.C. the area that was to become NSW was inhabited entirely by indigenous Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples with traditional social, legal organisation and land rights. The population of NSW was at least 100,000 with many tribal, clan and language groups. There were several tribes living in the Sydney region including the Kuringai whose appearance prompted the first Governor, Captain Arthur Phillip, to describe them as "Manly", the description surviving in the name of one of Sydney's best-known beach suburbs.

However, once European settlement began, Aboriginal rights to traditional lands were disregarded and the Aboriginal people of the Sydney region were almost obliterated by introduced diseases and, to a lesser extent, armed force. First contacts were relatively peaceful but Aboriginal people and their culture were as unfamiliar to Europeans, initially, as the landscape, flora and fauna of the new land.

Information from The Parliament of NSW website.

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