Story Of the Darug People.


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Story of the Darug People


These are some of the names of the Darug clans and the area in which they lived, Bediagal - Georges River, bidjigal - Castle Hill, Boolbainora - Wentworthville, Burraberongal - Richmond, Burramattagal - Parramatta, Cabrogal - Liverpool, Cannemegal (warmuli) - Prospect, Cattai - Windsor, Gomerrigal (tongara) South Creek, Kurrajong - Kurrajong, Mulgoa - Penrith/ Mulgoa, Muringong - Cowpastures clan - Camden, Tugagal - Toongabbie, Wandeandegal- ?, Warrawarry - Eastern Creek clan/ Blacktown. The suffix (gal) was added to the place names to distinguish the male members of the clan which (galleon) was to denote the females.

By studying accounts of early British settlers, we can reconstruct aspects of the Darug lifestyle. Early observers reported that the subsistence and economy.groups have relied for survival on a deeply practical knowledge of their environment. this knowledge concerned plants which provieded them among other things with food, medicine and the raw material for utensils, weapons, shelter and cloths at times. While coastal groups exploited marine and estuarine resources, hinterland groups relied on freshwater and terrestrial animales and plants. A distinction between the two lifestyles is clearly made in early European accounts. During a trip along the Hawkesbury-Nepean during 1791,Watkin tench wrote that hinterland people: "depend but little on fish, as the yields only mullets, and that their principal support is derived from small animals which they kill,and some roots (a species of wild yam) which they dig out of the earth." Animales such as wallabies, Kangaroos, possums, flying foxes, water birds, parrots, reptiles, freshwater fish and yabbies played a far greater role in the subsistence of hinterland groups than the coast. Food habits and diets varied from one region to another, custom and beliefs affected what was hunted and gathered. One clan might have a particular animal as a totemic and would not harm it. For other clans that animal might be fair game.

The relative scarcity of rescoures in the hinterland and the increased work associated with procuring terrestrial foods through hunting meant that the hinterland was more thinly populated then the coast. Inland population densities were assessed by early settlers as being less than those on the coast. But the early settlers didn't see all the clans at one time so it was hard to get any count of the population of Aboriginals West of Sydney. The Darug groups living in the Hawkesbury sandstone region made extensive use of the natural rock overhangs and caerns that are characteristic of the area. There was some who buildt bark huts, but are very few compared to the whole. as they prefer the ready made habitations they find in the rocks.

Plant management practices were also conducted in the Sydney area. The Darug people practiced fire-stick farming in and around Sydney. The result of the firing of the landscape, was carried out for a variety of reasons. fire-stick farming opened up the access to land and created pockets early succession vegetation that increaased the amount of important plant foods. Early regrowth vegetation, particularly grasses, attracted animals, which in turn made them easier to hunt. Firing of the landscape was an important tool in manipulating the environment to increase food sources and to broaden their range of food.

On January 1788 the First Fleet arrived on the land of the Darug people.In 1788 prior to white occupation it became apparent that the Aborigines were organised into extended family units. Each clan or band was named after the aera of land where they normoally resided and with which the people had traditional links. Sydney now stands on the territory belonging to the Cadigal, an area known as Cadi. To the west along the southen shore of the Parramatta River were the Wangal. On the north shore were the Cammeraigal, Wallumattagal and Tarramerragal. Wherethe present town of Parramatta stands the people were know as Burramattagal. There are names of clans recorded for which on exact locations are known, including the Gomerrigal and the Wandeandegal, perhaps these clans are those later referred to as the South Creek clans and Windsor clans. There are other clans within the Darug land they are Bidji, Mulgoa, Buarribee, Warmul and Turramurra.

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