>> Click here for a general overview of Aboriginal heritage at Sydney's Botanic Gardens
>> Click here to see the information on our interpretive signs in the First Farm and Cadi Jam Ora: First Encounters Garden
The Cadi Jam Ora: First Encounters Garden Display
The land occupied by the Royal Botanic Garden Sydney is the site where the modern transformation of the Australian continent began and can be regarded as the ‘first frontier’ between Aboriginal and European societies. Some of the earliest prolonged European encounters with Indigenous Australians occurred here, leading ultimately to the tragic demise of the local people, the Cadigal. A four-bed display called Cadi Jam Ora: First Encounters has been developed to explore these encounters and convey Aboriginal people’s prior use of the site and their understanding of plants and the environment.
To the casual visitor the landscape of the Royal Botanic Garden appears controlled, groomed, contrived, and distinctly European in origin. There is little visible evidence that this was once a wild landscape, or that dramatic remodelling and transformations occurred here to create this high-Gardenesque setting. Nor is there any evidence that another culture once thrived here until its displacement by British colonists in 1788.
On this site the first attempt by Europeans to establish an agricultural foothold on Australian soil happened and failed. Of equal significance, some of the earliest prolonged European encounters with Indigenous Australians occurred here, leading ultimately to the tragic demise of the local Indigenous inhabitants, the Cadigal.
Until the construction of the Cadi Jam Ora: First Encounters garden there was nowhere apparent that the site of this modern day botanic garden once supported native plants and animals in a natural balance, providing food, shelter, and building materials, as well as carrying the spiritual meaning of an indigenous culture for thousands of years.
The Royal Botanic Gardens & Domain Trust made a corporate commitment to recognise these aspects of the history of the place, and to identify specific ways of representing and interpreting Indigenous culture, particularly the differing environmental perspectives of Aboriginal and European people. A range of interpretive techniques and displays has been utilised to evoke the memory of prior Aboriginal presence at the site and to provoke a contemporary response in visitors.