The Eora nation refers to the collective 29 Aboriginal clans of the Sydney area and when European settlement occurred in 1788, it was estimated that 1,500 indigenous people were living in the region. Sadly, due to the effects of colonisation (such as the introduction of smallpox) that population diminished, leaving Sydney - as we know it today - often underappreciated as a cultural hub for indigenous culture, particularly when compared to other areas of Australia, like the Bundjulung (northern New South Wales) and Yolngu (north-eastern Northern Territory) nations. However, if you have ever assumed that Sydney lacks indigenous culture then you are in for a delicious surprise. The people of Eora were coastal dwellers who lived off and knew the ins and outs of the fruits of the Harbour and its surrounding land, and many of their traditions and practices have been studied and preserved for the modern day.
Since this year’s theme for NAIDOC Week (running from 5 to 12 July) is ‘We all Stand on Sacred Ground: Learn, Respect and Celebrate’ there is no better time to learn, respect and celebrate Australia’s indigenous culture than by getting out and about in your local area for some education and understanding.
1. If it’s food and handcrafted goods that interests you, the Blak Markets are on today at La Perouse. Look out for Jessica Sinnott who uses native ingredients to create desserts like forest berry toffee and lemon myrtle banoffee pie. Get in quick before they sell out!
First Sunday of every month
Bare Island, La Perouse
2. On the topic of native ingredients, the greatest way to learn more about Sydney’s flora is to take a guided tour through the Botanic Gardens where you will learn the medical and culinary uses for various plants and also be warned about which ones to avoid (unless permanent psychosis or death by diarrhea sounds appealing…)
Royal Botanic Gardens Aboriginal Heritage Tour
Bookings are essential: (02) 9231 8134
3. If you would prefer to listen than to eat then the Dreamtime Southern X The Rocks Dreaming might be right up your alley… or cobbled lane way. Learn about past and present Aboriginal Sydney on a 1.5-hour walking tour through the Rocks.
Dreamtime Southern X The Rocks Dreaming
4. On the corporate side of town, the Australian Museum is currently showing Garrigarang – an exhibition detailing the connections between Indigenous Australians and the coast through a series of artefacts, stories and ceremonial performances about the sea. The museum also hosts guided tours of the First Peoples Gallery.
9.30am – 5.00pm daily
Corner of College and William Streets, Sydney
Free with admission
5. It’s hard to look past Bangarra when listing Sydney’s top 5 indigenous cultural experiences. Bangarra takes the traditional practice of storytelling and combines it with contemporary dance to capture both the historical and modern aspects of this country’s long life and the people who were here first.
For information on Bangarra’s next season, please visit http://bangarra.com.au/