Dharawhal PeopleTo People
The Dharawal Aboriginal people are the caretakers of the land on the south coast of Sydney, from Port Jackson to the Shoalhaven River, extending west to Camden. Organised by family groups as opposed to tribes, the Dharawal people lived harmoniously with the land, moving around with the seasons using both the land and sea as a food source. With the European settlement of Australia marked by the arrival of the First Fleet in 1788, so too came diseases which had a devastating effect on the Indigenous communities in the neighbouring Eora land of Sydney. It is supposed that 50% of Dharawal people died from the smallpox epidemic of 1789 before even coming into direct contact with the settlers.
With settlement spreading beyond the colony in Sydney down the coast, the traditional hunting land of the Dharawal people was subsumed by farm land. This substantial land clearing dimished the traditional way of life for the Dharawal people. In addition to the loss of land, Dharawal people faced the very real threat of violence. The hunting of Indigenous people was common in the Illawarra region and it is supposed that a significant number of the Dharawal people would have moved inland from the coast to avoid the bloody confrontations with the new land owners. So severely diminished was the local Dharwal community in the Illawarra region that by 1900 there was only 33 known Dharawal people living in the region. The Aboriginal population of the traditional Dharawal lands now accounts for approximately 2% of the total population and is comprised of the descendents of a number of different Aboriginal clans and tribes.