"Daruganora: Darug Country - the place and the people" by Jim Kohen and published by Darug Tribal Aboriginal
"The Dharug fought like lions; but they had no guns, and today they no longer exist" (John Pilger. 1989. A Secret
Country, page 27).
When he was beginning his PhD research in the early 1980s, Jim Kohen made contact with the Darug people, the traditional
owners of the Sydney region. Jim's interest was the distribution of biological resources and the spatial patterning of prehistoric
Aboriginal campsites. However, he soon became involved in a much wider study of the Darug and their country, which included
culture, genealogy, social structure and language.
Several families were particularly helpful. June Workman (nee Tangye and Hilda Tangye (nee Webb), first told
Jim the story of their ancestor who was an Aboriginal "princess", Maria. Subsequent research showed that she was the daughter
of Yarramundi, the "chief" of the Boorooberongal clan from the Richmond area (Kohen 1993). As the daughter of a "chief", indeed
she may well have deserved the title "princess". She was the first Aboriginal child to be admitted to the Parramatta Native
Institution, a school for Aboriginal children established by Governor Macquarie in 1814 (Brook and Kohen, 1991). The ladies
knew that she had married a white man named Robert Lock, the first marriage between an Aboriginal woman and a European in
Australia, and that they had ten children, nine of whom survived into adulthood. Maria and her descendants owned land at Plumpton
and at Liverpool .
Many of the extended family continue to live near Plumpton, Riverstone and Liverpool , while other related families who
had moved to the Sackville Aboriginal Reserve, La Perouse, Redfern and Katoomba, now live close to these areas.
With this detailed information as a guide, it was possible to confirm the ancestry of the extended Lock family, and to
trace other related Darug families. From this beginning, almost 20,000 people have been traced who can claim descent from
the Darug, a far cry from John Pilger's 1989 assertion that the Darug "no longer exist". Over the past ten years, Jim has
acted as an "expert witness" on behalf of the Darug people for their Native Title claims, and the Darug are currently negotiating
and Indigenous Land Use Agreement (ILUA) with the NSW government.
In his new book, "Daruganora: Darug Country - the place and the people", Jim details the relationship between the Darug
people and their environment, beginning with the prehistory of the Sydney area. The book follows the history of the people
from first contact with Europeans in1788 through the Aborigines Protection Board era to their struggle to gain recognition
of their rights as traditional owners today. Because of the importance of "family" to Aboriginal people, a large part of the
book documents how information on local Aboriginal families was gathered and interpreted, and it includes descendant charts
of Darug men like Gomebeeree, Yarramundi, Wawarrawarri, Cooman, and Namut, and women including Nanny, Peggy, and Kitty.
This book represents the culmination of 25 years working closely with Darug people. In line with the best practice of
recognising Aboriginal ownership of their culture and heritage, the book has been published by Darug Tribal Aboriginal Corporation.