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Published May 4th 2018
Discover Aboriginal stories within our modern landscape
The beautiful Sydney Harbour always impresses whether you are new to the city or have lived here your whole life. The glistening harbour, the famed Bridge and Opera House and the heritage streets and buildings of The Rocks are all Sydney icons we know and love. But have you ever thought about the landscape and stories behind our modern city, in particular, the Aboriginal stories of this area?
While it's obvious that the Sydney Harbour foreshore of today looks nothing like it did pre-1788, you may be surprised to discover remnants of the pre-colonial natural environment still exist in our modern city. All it takes is the knowledge of what to look for and where to find it.
Learn the Aboriginal heritage of our modern city landscape
The Rocks Dreaming Aboriginal Heritage Walking Tour with Dreamtime Southern X offers a 90-minute walking tour of The Rocks with an Aboriginal guide. On this tour, you will hear the stories of the most ancient human culture on Earth and discover how the Sydney landscape - the harbour, marine environment, flora and fauna - influenced how Aboriginal people lived in this area.
The tour meets at Cadmans Cottage, located right next to the Museum of Contemporary Art at Circular Quay. It was here I met my guide, James, who introduced himself by saying hello in the Gadigal language of the Sydney Aboriginal people. I was also anointed with some ochre on my left wrist as a sign of respect which was a gracious gesture.
Discover the secrets of the trees & plants around Sydney Harbour
The tour begins with an introduction about the diversity of Aboriginal Australia, illustrated by the indigenous map our guide has, which marks out over 500 different clan groups around the continent. We are also told the story of creation in Aboriginal Dreaming and how the landforms were created. James goes on to explain about the importance of totems - both plants and animals - to all Aboriginal people.
From here, the walking tour progresses, across George Street and into the laneways of The Rocks. We then climb up the Argyle Stairs and walk down to Dawes Point, underneath the Harbour Bridge, before returning along the foreshore back to Cadmans Cottage. We stop several times along the way as James points out plants, buildings and other items of interest.
Learn how shells were used in the construction of this building
discover how indigenous Australian used plants and trees for food, water, hunting and tools
learn the significance of shell middens, how they were used and why
catch glimpses of Sydney sandstone in rock walls and discover its importance to indigenous Australians
learn about the way shells were used in the buildings of the colony
discover a hidden beach on the Sydney foreshore, one that you've probably walked past before, that you never knew was there
touch trees that were once used for canoe building and boomerang making
touch a possum skin and discover why Aboriginal people lit fires inside their canoes
see the famous dinosaur tree - a Wollemi Pine
The pace of the tour is leisurely and the 90 minutes just flies by. James was happy to share his own stories with me and happy to answer any questions I had. For me, the tour was interesting, informative and surprising. I learnt a few things that I hadn't known before and I will definitely look at our modern city in a different light, and with a new understanding from now on.
wow wow wow this is so impressive and will do it on my next visit and share it with my local friends! Good on Aunty Margaret for putting it together and overseas visitors will lap this up .. thanks heaps.