Botanic Gardens Trust, Sydney, Australia

Australian Botanic Garden




Master Plan

2006 Master Plan Review

2000 Site Master Plan & Development Plan

*Corrigendum: Please substitute the following text for 'The clash of cultures' on p.18 of the Site Master Plan.

The clash of cultures

The Dharawal people left tangible evidence of their first encounter with European settlement. Six months after the arrival of the First fleet, two bulls and four cows (then the colony’s only source of fresh meat) disappeared from the settlement at Port Jackson. The cattle wandered south, crossing the Cooks and Nepean Rivers before establishing themselves on good grazing ground in the Menangle-Camden district. The Dharawal saw these strange creatures and drew them on the wall of a sandstone shelter nearby. The Dharawal clearly depicted the characteristics of the bulls, which dominate the cave and the sense of their terror towards these new animals is also evident.

There had been no reports of violence between the Dharawal and the few Europeans settled around Mount Annan before 1810, but intensive European occupation of Minto and Macquarie’s newly declared Districts of Airds and Appin occurred over the following decade. Conflict was inevitable between such vastly different cultures and the severe droughts of 1814-16 exacerbated the situation.

Although battles were fought throughout the Campbelltown area, the Dharawal were more often observers than participants, but few Europeans were able to distinguish between particular groups of Aboriginal people; by 1816 the Europeans considered all the Cowpastures tribes to be hostile. The majority of combatants were tribes from the mountains and southern highlands, including the Gundungerra, who were more aggressive than the Dharawal.

The Appin Massacre of 1816 is widely regarded as the annihilation of the Aboriginal people of Campbelltown and Camden. Yet evidence suggests that the Dharawal did not play an aggressive role in the conflict. Other sources indicate that the Dharawal population was quite small by 1816, as many had succumbed to smallpox, influenza and other introduced diseases which had a profound effect on their lives well before the armed conflicts took place.

After the 1816 conflicts, the Dharawal remained south of the Nepean River in the Cowpastures district (including Mount Annan) under the tacit protection of the Macarthur family. In March 1818 James Meehan marked out some land on the Macarthur’s Camden estate for Dharawal (and others) that wanted to live there under Macarthur’s protection. A portion of the Camden estate was always known as ‘Budbury’s Paddock’.

The Dharawal numbers were further depleted by the 1820 influenza epidemic and between 1835 and 1845 the official number of Aborigines in the Campbelltown District fell from 20 to none, although it is clear from later records that a number of Dharawal did survive. However, the removal of their traditional hunting grounds for pastoral land and the dispersion of their tribe in the years following the conflict resulted in few Dharawal actually remaining in the district. Although corroborees were held at Camden in the 1850s, the gatherings comprised a number of tribes (including the remaining Dharawal) and it was clear that the Europeans were now the dominant ‘tribe’.

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Paper daisies

native flowers

Aerial view