Coastal Sydney: Australian Languages and Traditions, 1878

Samples of sentences and stories in the Sydney language, provided by Johnny and Lizzie to anthropologists.
Cultural Narrative: 

Ŋāndagū būrū

(nandangay buru)

I see a kangaroo

Dharawal people have been living in and around Gamay (Botany Bay) for tens of thousands of years. From the early 1880s the government actively encouraged Aboriginal people living around Sydney Harbour to move beyond the city limits to La Perouse on the shores of Gamay. By the end of the century most of the Sydney basin Aboriginal people were living there permanently. When the colony of Sydney developed a more industrial lifestyle, Guriwal (La Perouse) and Kamay became the place for city folk to picnic on weekends. As its popularity grew it merited its own tramline, which terminated at La Perouse. Affectionately known as The Loop it was there that Aboriginal men and women sold boomerangs and curios to the picnickers.

Early linguists and ethnologists sought out John (Johnny) Malone (ca.1820–1880) and his wife Lizzie (c 1830–1901), later Golden, as language and cultural knowledge holders. Johnny’s local knowledge and hunting skills were also well recognised. He and his ‘tribe’ were engaged by the Sir Joseph Banks Hotel in the 1860s to run fishing and scenic tours from the hotel wharf. Johnny was also sought out by ethnologist Edward Smith Hill and Austrian Karl Scherzer to locate Aboriginal sites around Gamay.

In the 1860s and 70s both Johnny and Lizzie provided samples of ‘Sydney tribe’ language to anthropologists. Johnny shared the Dharawal language while Lizzie, an Illawarra woman, shared Wodi Wodi words, sentences and stories.