The area around Sydney is the homeland of the largest Aboriginal population in Australia. The Eora and Cadigal tribes were among the first people encountered by the First Fleet when it established its settlement at Botany Bay before moving north to what is now known as Sydney.
Today it is easy to immerse yourself in Aboriginal culture, because of the number and diversity of experiences in and around Sydney:
Thereâs the Tribal Warrior cruise, hosted by an Aboriginal crew, around the harbour, landing on a small island to experience an authentic Aboriginal cultural performance. Learn about the way these peoples fished and how they ate, and their life before the white settlers arrived. If you are specially interested in fishing, there is a half-day experience teaching various aspects of Aboriginal culture including fishing, a bush-tucker tour, stories of the Dreamtime (a period revered by Aborigines when ancestral totemic spirit beings created the world, according to legend), boomerang throwing and swimming.
A beautiful as well as instructive walking tour of the Botanical Gardens on the harbour-side will help you learn about the importance of this site to the Cadigal who originally inhabited this area. An Aboriginal guide will show you all about traditional use of plants, tools and weapons.
Donât miss an opportunity to see the Bangarra Dance Theatre, Sydneyâs own Indigenous performing arts company, which is famous for weaving traditional and modern cultures together in its award-winning dance theatre productions. Check ahead, though, because Bangarra takes its art on tour for much of the year.
At Australiaâs National Maritime Museum at Darling Harbour there is a permanent exhibition dedicated to the Eora, featuring their art (mainly paintings on tree-bark, but also featuring sculptures and other objects). At the Museum of Sydney the history of Aboriginal culture is told through film and other modern interactive techniques.
The Nura Diya Aboriginal Wildlife tour at Mosmanâs Taronga Zoo should not be missed. This takes the visitor on a journey through the zoo, a guide explaining how interlinked are the animals, plants and humans in the region and how important was traditional medicine. The entire tour was developed by Aboriginals themselves to show others how they link back to the Dreamtime.
Greater recognition today of the fact that the land around Sydney belonged to Aboriginals, long before white people arrived, has encouraged more exhibits dedicated to their lifestyle and also fostered interest in the way the lived then and now.