Coastal Sydney: Aboriginal names, 1884–1907

List of Aboriginal names and words recorded from the Cammeray community between 1884 and 1907.

“On explaining to Dick my desire to obtain a knowledge of his language and an insight into the manners and customs of his countrymen, he told me at once 'not to ask questions," that "blackfellows don’t like to be cross-questioned," that " black-fellows tell too much gammon " but to look about consequently, by following Dick's advice when visiting his or other encampments in different localities, I secured much information.” 

- John F. Mann, letter to the editor, Sydney Morning Herald, June 20, 1900

The Surveyor General Department‘s licensed surveyor, John Frederick Mann compiled this random list of words based upon information given to him by a Gamaraygal man named Long Dick, or Boio (his traditional name). The words originate from Long Dick’s tribe – the Gamaraygal people – of Sydney’s North Shore. The suburb of Cammeray on the north shore of Sydney Harbour is named after the Gamaraygal (or Cammeraigal) people.

This five page document is unusual, as it names the Aboriginal informant- Long Dick. Generally, the recording of Aboriginal language lists and vocabularies are only known by the person who compiled it. This list also features several paragraphs of explanatory notes and translations in English.

‘Australian Aborigines – a few notes on their language etc. Information obtained from Long Dick an influential native of the Cammeray tribe a son of Bungaree and Queen Gooseberry … In my journeys through this country I have remarked that the language used by the Aborigines differed in the several localities in a manner somewhat similar to that prevailing in the various counties of England. Also that placenames were given in accordance with the natural formation of product of the locality; whether the items which originated the name were geological, animal or vegetable.’

The full catalogue record is online at:

Cultural Narrative: 


Cammeray Tribe
Original Date Description: 
Copyright status: In copyright. Research & study copies allowed: Author has been deceased for more than 50 years. Rights and Restrictions Information: no publication without prior written approval of copyright holder. Please acknowledge: Mitchell Library, State Library of New South Wales and Courtesy copyright holder.
Am 1/folder 1; FL631558