Sydney (Cadi, Djubuguli)


Sydney was named after Sydney Cove, on which the city is located, which in turn was named after Thomas Townshend, the First Viscount Sydney of England; the port is called Port Jackson.

Sydney’s Aboriginal name “Djubuguli” refers to what is today named Bennelong Point (where the Opera House stands), whereas “Cadi” denotes the entire Sydney Cove.

Check out the guide to Aboriginal Sydney.

Population: 4.3 million people, about 50,000 of them Aboriginal.

The stick-like Sydney Tower (centre) is a less known icon of the inner city, pictured with flowering Jacaranda trees. Sydney city. The stick-like Sydney Tower (centre) is a less known icon of the inner city, pictured with flowering Jacaranda trees.

The largest open-air art gallery

Sydney is home to one of the largest open-air art galleries in the world, says Jenny Munro, Chairperson of the Metropolitan Local Aboriginal Land Council. More than 5,500 rock engraving sites have been identified in the greater Sydney region so far [1], well over 600 of which are in the inner area of Sydney.

Before the invasion Sydney was home to at least 1,500 Eora and Ku-Ring-Gai people, whose traces are left in the greater Sydney area. While many traces were destroyed by the extending city some remain accessible and provide an insight into a culture at least 50,000 years old. It is assumed that Aboriginal people adapted to the changing coastline when it was 12km further to the east at the end of the ice age, 20,000 years ago.

Visible Aboriginal history

The evidence of Aboriginal occupation of Sydney’s area is still visible:

  • Place names. Aboriginal place names include Bondi, Tamarama, Cogee, Maroubra and others.
  • Middens. Middens are piles of shells discarded by Aboriginal people.
  • Rock engravings. These are also called petroglyphs.
  • Scarred trees. Aboriginal people cut away part of the tree’s bark, scarring it for life.
  • Artefacts. Artefacts include for example stone tools.
  • The course of some streets. Some streets are believed to have been Aboriginal walking tracks. For example, Botany Road is said to follow an Aboriginal path connecting Sydney Harbour with Botany Bay. Other examples include Oxford Street, King Street, George Street and Warringah Road.

Many Aboriginal sites are not signposted, known only to the very interested people.

The Aboriginal Heritage Office at Northbridge, on Sydney’s north shore, is a partnership of eight councils—Lane Cove, North Sydney, Ku-ring-gai, Manly, Pittwater, Warringah, Willoughby and Ryde—working to protect Aboriginal sites and educate the community.

Today, Sydney's Aboriginal communities take great pride in being able to demonstrate that, in spite of such a violent history of dispossession, they have survived.—Melinda Hinkson in 'Aboriginal Sydney'

Resources about Aboriginal Sydney

Melinda Hinkson: Aboriginal Sydney The excellent book Aboriginal Sydney is a
guide to 50 “important places of the past and present” and provides details for each site on how to get there, a description and historic background information.

Lonely Planet: Aboriginal Australia  Lonely Planet’s Aboriginal Australia has around 20 pages on New South Wales and its Aboriginal history, some 11 of which are dedicated to Sydney with a large section on galleries, museums and shops.

Barani/Barrabugu (Yesterday/Tomorrow) booklet The City of Sydney published a booklet called Barani / Barrabugu (Yesterday / Tomorrow), a first-ever comprehensive cultural map of more than 60 sites significant to the Aboriginal community.The free booklet also describes several walks, along with suggestions for cultural institutions and organisations to visit.


View article sources (1)

1. ^ ‘Preserving ancient Sydney’, ABC, 3 July 2012,, retrieved 8/7/2012

Cite this article

An appropriate citation for this document is:, Sydney (Cadi, Djubuguli), retrieved 1 October 2021