The Cadigal people – the traditional owners of the Sydney city area – had a well-established community on the shores of Warrane (the Cadigal name for Sydney Cove – Circular Quay) when the First Fleet sailed into the harbour in 1788. Warrane was used as a gathering place for canoe routes and fishing by many of the 29 traditional Aboriginal nations within Eora.
The Cadigal were hunter-gatherers and their lives were intertwined with the land and harbour, which were abundant with possum, emu, kangaroo, insects, reptiles and sea creatures. They used tools and weapons made from the plants endemic to the area to catch food and spent much of their time hunting and fishing.
Cadigal women were adept at hand and line fishing and held in high esteem as the primary fishers of their community. They made their fishing lines from the fine silk thread of the golden orb spider's web, dried lomandra leaves, palm tree husk and kangaroo sinew. The waters of Woccanmagully (Farm Cove) were their special hunting place, these waters were also a ceremonial area where complex rituals were enacted.
At the time of the First Fleet’s arrival, more than 29 clan groups frequented the area of Tobegully (Bennelong Point), where the Sydney Opera House now stands.