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Aboriginal history

Bull Cave

There are many areas and specific sites of cultural significance that have been left by the Dharawal people. One of the most significant of these is what is known as the Bull Cave.

The legend of the Cowpastures explains how early European settlers stumbled on the region’s fertile farming land. In July 1788, just six months after European arrival, the early settlers lost two bulls and four cows.

Almost two years later, the cattle were sighted in the Menangle area. Local Aboriginal people saw the strange animals and sketched them on the walls of sandstone shelters along the Georges River, including in a cave now known as ‘Bull Cave’.

In December 1820, Governor Lachlan Macquarie named Campbell-Town in honour of his wife, Elizabeth Campbell. The region has become known as Sydney’s ‘Living Heritage’ precinct, being home to an impressive portfolio of heritage listed buildings, sites and pioneer cemeteries.

There are Aboriginal heritage items, buildings dating back to the early 1800s and a fascinating war history.

Appin Massacre

The Appin massacre of 1816 is perhaps the most devastating and tragic event to occur to the Dharawal and other local clans, and was a low point in the relationship between Indigenous and European inhabitants.

Diseases brought by the Europeans also depleted the Dharawal population. In 1845, the number of Aborigines in the Campbelltown Police District had dropped in 10 years from 20 to none. Tribal life in the district continued in a limited way.

Corroborees were still held at Camden Park and Denham Court until at least the 1850s. During 1858, about 200 Aborigines attended the celebrations at Campbelltown marking the opening of the railway line.

Today, the Tharawal Aboriginal Corporation, Tharawal Local Aboriginal Land Council and the Aboriginal Advisory Committee of Campbelltown City Council, foster Indigenous culture in the Campbelltown area.

Non-Indigenous Australians are fortunate to have the opportunity to learn about local Indigenous culture and history through the work of these groups. A determined willingness to learn from our history will assist the process of reconciliation.

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