Prior to European settlement in 1788, the area was inhabited by Indigenous Australians speaking the Guringai language. Aboriginal sites are found in the bushland all around Georges Head. The arrival of smallpox with European colonists meant that by 1795, the Aboriginal population on the northern side of Sydney Harbour had declined by as much as 90%.
In 1815, Governor Lachlan Macquarie dubbed Bungaree "Chief of the Broken Bay Tribe" and presented him with 15 acres (61,000 m2) of land on Georges Head. He was also known by the titles "King of Port Jackson" and "King of the Blacks". Bungaree spent the rest of his life ceremonially welcoming visitors to Australia, educating people about Aboriginal culture (especially boomerang throwing), and soliciting tribute, especially from ships visiting Sydney. Bungaree and his family kept a fishing boat on the beach.
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