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Eora people
aka: Ea-ora, Iora, and Yo-ra
Eora (AIATSIS), nd (SIL)[1]
IBRA 6.1 Sydney Basin.png
Sydney Basin bioregion
Language family: Pama–Nyungan
Language branch: Yuin–Kuric
Language group: Yora
Group dialects: Dharug
Bioregion: Sydney Basin
Location: Sydney, New South Wales
Coordinates: 34°S 151°E / 34°S 151°E / -34; 151Coordinates: 34°S 151°E / 34°S 151°E / -34; 151
Notable individuals
Portrait of Bennelong, a senior Wanegal man of the Eora peoples.

The Eora people /jʊərɑː/, a group of indigenous people of Australia, are those Australian Aborigines that were united by a common language, strong ties of kinship and survived as skilled hunter–fisher–gatherers in family groups or clans scattered along the coastal area of what is now known as the Sydney basin, in New South Wales, Australia. Their traditional territory spreads from the Georges River and Botany Bay in the south, to Port Jackson, north to Pittwater at the mouth of the Hawkesbury River, and west along the river to Parramatta.

The indigenous people identify themselves as Eora, literally meaning "the people", a word derived from Ee (yes) and ora (here, or this place). The language of the people is also called Eora.

With a traditional heritage spanning thousands of years, approximately 70 per cent of the Eora people died out during the nineteenth century as a result of smallpox, other pathogens and viruses, and the destruction of their natural food sources.

However, Indigenous people of the Sydney region still have a strong presence. Indeed, Eora people maintain their claim to the land and participate in political, cultural and social events as proud Indigenous people.


The Eora people generally comprise three main clans; the Cadigal, the Wanegal, and the Cammeraygal peoples. There is evidence that the Wallumedegal, Burramattagal, Boregegal, Cannalgal, Birrabirrigal, and Gorualgal clans are also Eora peoples.[2] Adjoining peoples are the Tharawal people to the south and the Darug people to the north west.

The Cadigal people are the traditional owners of the inner Sydney city region.[3] Their traditional land and waters are south of Port Jackson, stretching from South Head to Petersham. The people described by British settlers as the Eora people were probably Cadigal people, the Aboriginal tribe of the inner Sydney region in 1788 at the time of first European settlement. The Cadigal clan western boundary is approximately the Balmain peninsula.[2]

The traditional territory of the Wanegal people begins around Goat Island and runs west past Concord to what is now called Parramatta, and includes parts of Lane Cove River.[2]

The Cammeraygal peoples traditional territory is on the present-day lower North Shore of Port Jackson, centred on Manly Cove.[2]


The Dharuk (or Eora) language has been reconstructed from the many notes made of it by the original colonists, although there has possibly not been a continual oral tradition for over one hundred years. Some of the words of Aboriginal language still in use today are from the Eora (possibly Dharawal) language include: dingo, woomera, wallaby, wombat, waratah, and boobook (owl).[4]


The traditional Eora people were largely coastal dwellers and lived mainly from the produce of the sea. They were expert in close-to-shore navigation, fishing, cooking, and eating in the bays and harbours in their bark canoes. The Eora people did not grow or plant crops; although the women picked herbs which were used in herbal remedies. The Eora people were very spiritual people. They believed that inside everything, no matter what it was, there was a living spirit inside it keeping it in existence and something could only really be gone from the world if the spirit inside was destroyed. They also believed that if land was taken away from them that all the spirits in that land would die.[citation needed]

Population history[edit]

When the First Fleet of 1300 convicts, guards, and administrators arrived in January 1788, the Eora numbered about 1,500.[citation needed] Smallpox in conjunction with the destruction of their natural food sources, saw approximately 70 per cent of the Eora people die out during the eighteenth century.[5] The circumstances of the smallpox outbreak have been detailed by Christopher Warren in Journal of Australian Studies.[6] Other pathogens and viruses and frontier violence continued to depopulate much of Eora territory throughout the nineteenth century. However, there are still many Indigenous people living in Sydney who identify as Eora and reject the notion that the Eora people have died out.[citation needed]

Notable people[edit]

Main articles: Bennelong, Barangaroo, and Yemmerrawanne

Bennelong, a Wangal of the Eora peoples,[2] served as a link between the British colony at Sydney and the Eora people in the early days of the colony. He was given a brick hut on what became known as Bennelong Point where the Sydney Opera House now stands. He traveled to England in 1792 along with Yemmerrawanne and returned to Sydney in 1795. His wife, Barangaroo, was an important Cammeraygal woman from Sydney's early history who was a powerful and colourful figure in the colonisation of Australia. She is commemorated in the naming of the suburb of Barangaroo, in east Darling Harbour.[7] Neither Bennelong Point nor Barangaroo are located in traditional Wanegal or Cammeraygal territory.They lived in east austrailia at the top of new south wales and lived there for over 50,000 year.


  1. ^ Dousset, Laurent (2005). "Eora". AusAnthrop Australian Aboriginal tribal database. Retrieved 10 May 2012. 
  2. ^ a b c d e "Eora: Mapping Aboriginal Sydney 1770–1850" (PDF). State Library of New South Wales. 2006. p. 1. Retrieved 27 October 2010. 
  3. ^ "Aboriginal People and Place", City of Sydney government website, 2002
  4. ^ "The Aboriginal language of Sydney", The Notebooks of William Dawes on the Aboriginal Language of Sydney, School of Oriental and African Studies, London, retrieved 11 March 2013 
  5. ^ "Eora People". About NSW. Government of New South Wales. Retrieved 11 May 2012. 
  6. ^ Warren, Christopher (2013). "Smallpox at Sydney Cove - Who, When, Why?". Journal of Australian Studies. 38: 68–86. doi:10.1080/14443058.2013.849750. 
  7. ^ "Barangaroo". Geographical Names Register (GNR) of NSW. Geographical Names Board of New South Wales. Retrieved 5 August 2013. 

Further reading[edit]

  • Kurupt, Daniel, ed. (1994). The Encyclopedia of Aboriginal Australia. Aboriginal Studies Press. ISBN 0-85575-234-3. 
  • Thieberger, N; McGregor junior, W (eds.). "Sydney language". Macquarie Aboriginal Words. 

External links[edit]