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The Indigenous people of New South Wales come from many different tribes with distinct customs and practices. It is estimated that there were 250 Aboriginal languages in Australia before colonisation, and that approximately 70 of these languages were spoken in the area now known as New South Wales. The arrival of the Europeans disrupted the cultural balance that had been in operation in Australia for over 40 000 years, as Indigenous people were subjected to war and introduced to foreign diseases and customs for the first time. Many were disposessed from their land, ending up on Christian Missions and designated areas for Indigenous people to live, known as Reserves. The Indigenous people of New South Wales showed resilience and bravery in the face of the changes that were occuring all around them. Key leaders emerged, like Bungaree who was often referred to as the 'King of Aborigines' and Bennelong, who was captured by Governor Phillip in his attempt to better understand the local people.
In the heady days of colonisation and beyond, New South Wales was characterised as a rugged, wild place full of outlaws, with many terrifying tales of the exploits of bushrangers as they roamed from town to town. Names like Ben Hall, Dan 'Mad Dog' Morgan and Captain Moonlite continue on in folklore and history books alike. With those lawless times passed, New South Wales has developed into an educated society, producing great writers and poets such as Henry Lawson, Miles Franklin and Ruth Park. Others, like Brett Whiteley have made their mark in the art world, country singers like Slim Dusty advance the voice of the bush, and politicians like Paul Keating continue to have a large fan base long after retiring from Government. Most notably, Australians are known for their sporting prowess and New South Wales has nurtured the careers of many sporting greats, including the Olympic swimmer Dawn Fraser, and tennis great Evonne Goolagong Cawley.