Indigenous heritage - Dharawal land
The area known as Campbelltown City is located on the custodial lands of the Dharawal people and there are many reminders of their traditional and ongoing connection to the land. The traditional totem of the area is recognised as the lyrebird.
Dharawal people walked in harmony with the land, trod lightly and paid respect to the Elders who went before them. They welcomed people from many nations to gather and enjoy the sustenance of their fertile land, the land between two rivers (the Nepean and Georges Rivers). It provided the Dharawal people with abundant food sources, bushland and wildlife, making it a perfect place for gathering. The area was a meeting place for all mobs to unite, to yarn, to trade, discuss lore and resolve any grievances that may have occurred between them.
Connection to land and people
As articulated by members of the Aboriginal community, to feel connected to the Dharawal people is to feel connected to Dharawal land. The ability to connect to the land and the environment is an integral part of Aboriginal culture. By connecting to land, the community is connecting to its ancestors, its past, and physically and spiritually connecting to their culture.
As well as finding ways to connect to the people of the past, it is also important for the community to find new places to connect with each other.
The Georges River, and the expanses of bushland along the river banks, is a place where people go to do both. There are a number of specific places along the river that are valued by the community such as Simmo’s Beach, a place for families to gather and spend days in the sun, and the Woolwash bushland, where some community go to conduct important ceremonies. Regardless of the location of each specific site, the Georges River and its surrounding bush is a place where everyone can feel connected.
The lyrebird is a totem animal of the Dharawal people of Campbelltown and provides an enduring symbol of importance of the area, its people, and their purpose of peace-makers.
In alignment with the area being a place of harmony, the bird itself is a symbol of peace and conciliation. Known as the "speaker of many languages," the lyrebird is able to speak to all people, to hear them, and to reconcile differences between them.
Australian native Waratahs are significant to the Dharawal people, and the Campbelltown area specifically, not only because of the origins of the plant, but because of its stories and meaning.
There are many multiple stories from different mobs, including the Dharawal people, about how the waratah turned from white to red. Despite having their own unique portrayals, the belief that all waratahs were once white is shared between groups - waratahs having been turned red from blood that has been spilled on Dharawal land.
Both the white and red waratah symbolise the bloodshed of the Dharawal people and other neighbours who were visiting Dharawal land during colonial times, and act as reminders of this important part of the area's history.
The bushland around the Georges River is home to many native plants that are important to the Aboriginal community. One such plant is the Gymea Lily, which, as is shared through story, grew as it followed the Georges River up from Botany Bay. The Gymea Lily now weaves through Campbelltown LGA and has become an important and symbolic part of the urban landscape.