Aboriginal Heritage

In the spirit of reconciliation Lane Cove Council acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of the Land, the Cameraygal people. We pay our respects to Elders past and present and extend that respect to all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples today.  

What Council is doing

  • The Aboriginal Flag is flown at all times outside Council's Civic Centre
  • The Aboriginal Flag is flown in the Council Chambers
  • Acknowledgment of Country given at the beginning of events and Council meetings
  • Harmony Day - 21 March – a range of cultural activities are organised to encourage tolerance between all Australians regardless of their heritage or cultural background
  • Fallen Aboriginal soldiers remembered in the ANZAC Day Ceremony
  • National Reconciliation Week (http://www.reconciliation.org.au/nrw/, from 26 June – 3 July, is included in the Gai-mariagal Festival
  • NAIDOC Week, (http://www.naidoc.org.au/) the first full week in July celebrates Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and culture – these events are included in Gai-mariagal Festival
  • Bush Regeneration Program – The program is an ongoing weekly activity run collaboratively with the Tribal Warrior where Aboriginal mentees work on Council's bush regeneration program with a view to training and employment
  • Ongoing commitment to provide funds to support the Aboriginal Heritage Office

The Aboriginal Heritage Office

The Aboriginal Heritage Office is a joint initiative by Lane Cove, North Sydney, Ku-ring-gai, Northern Beaches, Willoughby and Strathfield Councils, in a progressive move to protect Aboriginal Heritage in these areas.

The role of the Aboriginal Heritage Office is to:

  • monitor the Aboriginal Sites in these Council areas on a day to day basis and develop long term management reports to ensure their preservation and protection.
  • give the Aboriginal people and non-Aboriginal people involved with these Council areas an avenue of approach to discuss issues or concerns they may have.
  • communicate with schools and other groups and teach children a deeper understanding of the unique culture of Aboriginal people.
  • in association with the local councils, conduct talks, walks and activities to enhance appreciation of Aboriginal culture in the wider community.

A selection of information leaflets on various Aboriginal Heritage topics are available to download from the Aboriginal Heritage website and include topics such as 'Aboriginal Site Awareness' and 'Bush Regeneration and Aboriginal Sites'

Metropolitan Local Aboriginal Land Council

Lane Cove Council has signed a 'Principles of Cooperation' agreement with the Metropolitan Local Aboriginal Land Council which outlines a range of guidelines for government departments that provide services to the Aboriginal community.

Aboriginal History in “Brief”

For thousands of years prior to the arrival of Europeans, the Lane Cove area was home to the Cameraygal people. Living primarily along the foreshores of the harbour, they fished and hunted in the waters and hinterlands of the area, and harvested food from the surrounding bush.  Moving throughout their country in accordance with the seasons, Aboriginal people spent only 4-5 hours per day working to ensure their survival.  With such a large amount of leisure time available, they developed a rich and complex ritual life -- language, customs, spirituality, and law -- the heart of which was connection to Land.

The arrival of Lt James Cook in 1770 marked the beginning of the end for this ancient way of life. Because the vast majority of clans living in the Sydney Basin were killed as a result of the 1788 invasion, the stories of the land have been lost forever.  Much of what we do know about the Cameraygal people must be gleaned from their archaeological remains.  Middens, shelters, engravings, art remnants of indigenous life are prolific throughout the region, but no one remains to reveal their particular meanings or ancient significance.  No one remains to bring this archaeology truly alive.

Aboriginal Sites

The Sydney Basin is one of the richest provinces in Australia in terms of Aboriginal archaeological sites, comparable even to Kakadu National Park.  In the Sydney metropolitan area there are approximately 4,500 Aboriginal Sites registered by NPWS, which is only a small portion of what once existed here.  More than half of these sites contain rock art, and in Sydney’s sandstone belt at least 1,500 rockshelters have been discovered to contain cultural deposit. 

Physical evidence of occupation of the Sydney area dates on the coast from around 7,000 years ago at the Prince of Wales Hospital Site. Older sites would have been submerged as the sea level rose following the last ice age (around 20,000 years ago) and stabilised to its current level only 6,000 years ago.  Hundreds of shell middens have been recorded along the coast and estuaries.

Aboriginal Sites in Lane Cove Council Area

Aboriginal sites are a very important factor in Aboriginal culture today, and just as important to the broader community.  There are a significant number of sites in the Lane Cove Council area and while most of these sites have been recorded, there are likely to be many more that have yet to be identified.  All Aboriginal sites have legal protection under both state and federal law.

These sites are under threat every day from development, vandalism and natural erosion.  The sites cannot be replaced and once they are destroyed, they are gone forever.  The sites that are located in Lane Cove Council area are still in reasonable condition and hold an important part in our history. 

Areas with Potential for Aboriginal Sites

In addition to according protection to sites that are known and registered, the law protects sites not yet revealed.  Although Lane Cove LGA is highly developed, there are areas that still hold great potential for uncovering further archaeological evidence of residence, including bush land, residential areas, as well as some commercial areas. 

Council is responsible for protecting known sites and for implementing planning mechanisms that account for the possibility of uncovering sites. Educating Council staff, contractors, bush care volunteers, and the public about the identification of sites and the landscapes in which they generally occur, as well as how to proceed should such a site be discovered, are essential measures.

Find out more about local Aboriginal history at the Aboriginal Heritage Office website: www.aboriginalheritage.org.