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The Bidjigal (also spelt Bediagal) people are a group of Indigenous Australians living to the West of Sydney. Their geographical location is confusing, as they seem to have been based in southern Sydney, in the region between the Cooks River and the Georges River and yet also seem to have inhabited land in Hills District of Sydney, in what is now Baulkham Hills.
Others say that the Bidjigal people span from La Perouse, Botany Bay down to the Illawarra. The language group to which they belong is Dharawal, which spanned from Sydney to Jervis Bay.
Attenbrow (2002) discusses their possible origin and location, and concludes that the question is "somewhat vexed", while Kohen (1993) suggests that there may have been some confusion between two distinct groups: the Bidjigal (living in the Baulham Hills area) and the Bediagal at Botany Bay in the Salt Pan Creek area. If this is the case, then this article is about the Bidjigal people living in the Baulkham Hills area.
The Bidjigal are sometimes said to be a clan of the Dharuk people, and sometimes a clan of the Eora people, and this may result from the confusion described above. However, it is also possible that they were a distinct group with their own Bidjigal language. The name Bidjigal means plains-dweller in the Dharuk language.
Perhaps the most famous Bidjigal person was Pemulwuy, who successfully led Aboriginal Resistance forces against the British Army before finally being captured and killed (and eventually beheaded).
The name of the Bidjigal is today remembered by the name of Bidjigal Reserve, in Baulkham Hills, Castle Hill, Carlingford, North Rocks and Northmead to the North-West of Sydney. The Bidjigal Reserve was known as Excelsior Park until 2004. It is the site of the earliest known Aboriginal occupation of Sydney.
- Attenbrow, V., 2002, Sydney’s Aboriginal Past, UNSW Press
- Kohen, J., The Darug and their Neighbours: the traditional Aboriginal owners of the Sydney region. Darug Link in association with Blacktown City Council 1993 p 21
Willmott, E., 1987, “Pemulwuy – the rainbow warrior”, Weldons.