Hawkesbury Aboriginal Cultural Heritage Study

Aboriginal Cultural Heritage Study

Hawkesbury Local Government

Hawkesbury, NSW

The Hawkesbury has a rich and complex Aboriginal heritage. GML prepared a landmark Aboriginal Cultural Heritage Study (ACHS) in consultation with members of the local Aboriginal community. This ACHS is the first comprehensive overview of Aboriginal cultural heritage undertaken for the Hawkesbury local government area.

The ACHS provides recommendations for appropriate and respectful future management and promotion of Aboriginal cultural heritage within the Hawkesbury City Council area based on outcomes of consultation with the local Aboriginal community to identify traditional, historical and contemporary Aboriginal cultural values associated with this significant region.

It commences with a geomorphological perspective on the development of the Hawkesbury landscape and a review of known Aboriginal archaeological sites preserved within the terrain. A thematic history then traces initial contacts between Europeans and Traditional Custodians—the Darug and Darkinjung people—through to the Hawkesbury and Nepean Wars between 1788 and 1816, and the segregation of the Sackville Aboriginal Reserve in the late nineteenth and twentieth centuries. The ACHS aims to acknowledge and understand these dark periods of violence and oppression and the resulting complexity and diversity of Aboriginal connections to the Hawkesbury today.

Contemporary perspectives of Aboriginal people are also captured in this study. A wide variety of local Aboriginal groups and individuals were consulted and voiced their views about how their cultural heritage should be acknowledged and conserved for future generations.

The ACHS outlines achievable, precise aims for Council to manage Aboriginal cultural heritage within its jurisdiction across four broad focus areas:

  • consultation with local Aboriginal community groups;
  • further works at known sites;
  • an interpretation strategy; and
  • future Aboriginal cultural heritage studies.

These research aims are accompanied by recommended research projects and initiatives. The next steps for implementation are also outlined, staged and prioritised based on funding and scope.

The Hawkesbury ACHS is not an exhaustive document: it should be considered a baseline report that can be revised and expanded with increasing understanding, appreciation, and respect for the resonant Aboriginal cultural heritage of the Hawkesbury area.

Scar tree in Cattai Bridge Reserve, showing the removal of bark. (Source: GML 2020)

Steve Randall (left) and Phil Kahn (right) at Yarramundi Reserve. (Source: GML 2020)

Large scar tree in Cattai Bridge Reserve, showing the removal of bark. (Source: GML 2020)

Suzie Worth (left) and Craig Johnson (HCC) discussing engravings in Yengo National Park. (Source: GML 2020)

Hawkesbury City Council ACHS          This project was assisted by the Aboriginal Cultural Heritage Study grants provided by the NSW Government.