The land on which the Sydney Opera House stands, was a place of gathering for Aboriginal peoples. Photos by Linda Ballou.
Since time immemorial Tubowgule, the land on which the Sydney Opera House stands, has been a place of gathering for Aboriginal peoples. The clans would meet on the tidal island to dance, sing, feast, and share their stories. Today, that piece of land that juts out into the Sydney Harbor is called Bennelong Point. On my tour of Australia, I noticed Bennelongâ€™s name popping up everywhere making me curious about the importance of this man.
Woolarawarre Bennelong was a notable leader of the Wangal, a clan of the Eora people that lived in Manly, a long canoe paddle across Sydney Harbor. I took the fast ferry ride there from Sydney Cove to spend the day exploring the popular stop. Manly Cove enjoys calm waters in the protected harbor, but a short walk across the isthmus lined with trendy shops takes you to the open sea. Surfers bob in and out of the remarkably warm rolling surf, and nearby snorkelers ply the deep aquamarine waters where a reef provides shelter for a myriad of fishes. Much of Manly is preserved with hiking trails leading to good viewing spots of the bay. I could see why the Aboriginal people were happy here.
In 1788, Captain Arthur Phillip landed in Sydney Cove with the first fleet of convicts. He brought about 1,300 unfortunate men, 25 wives of these men, and 100 prostitutes to populate the colony. This filthy, hungry, sorry lot would be put to work building the colony. Phillip was given orders from King George III to encourage good relations with the natives. Due to an accident in Brazil, Phillip was missing a front tooth. This started things out well. In the Eora tradition, a male childâ€™s transition from boyhood to manhood is marked by knocking out a front tooth. They believed this bizarre pale spirit must be a brave warrior.