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Dharawal people
aka: Dharawal, Darawal, Carawal, Turawal, Thurawal, Thurrawal, Thurrawall, Turu-wal, Turuwul, Turrubul, Turuwull
Tharawal (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:Tharawal[2]
Bioregion:Sydney Basin
Location:Sydney and Illawarra, New South Wales
Coordinates:34°S 151°E / 34°S 151°E / -34; 151Coordinates: 34°S 151°E / 34°S 151°E / -34; 151
RiversGeorges and Shoalhaven
Notable individuals
Traditional lands of Aboriginal tribes around Sydney[a]

The Dharawal people, also spelt Tharawal and other variants, are an Aboriginal Australian people, identified by the Dharawal language.[2] Traditionally, they lived as hunter–fisher–gatherers in family groups or clans with ties of kinship, scattered along the coastal area of what is now the Sydney basin in New South Wales.


Dharawal means cabbage palm.[3]


According to ethnologist Norman Tindale, traditional Dharawal lands encompass some 450 square miles (1,200 km2) from the south of Sydney Harbour, through Georges River, Botany Bay, Port Hacking and south beyond the Shoalhaven River to the Beecroft Peninsula. Their inland extent reaches Campbelltown and Camden.[4]


The Gweagal were also known as the "Fire Clan". They are said to be the first people to first make contact with Captain Cook. The artist Sydney Parkinson, one of the Endeavour's crew members, wrote in his journal that the indigenous people threatened them shouting words he transcribed as warra warra wai, which he glossed to signify 'Go away'. According to spokesmen for the contemporary Dharawal community, the meaning was rather 'You are all dead', since warra is a root in the Dharawal language meaning 'wither', 'white' or 'dead'. As Cook's ship hove to near the foreshore, it appeared to the Dharwal to be a white low-lying cloud, and its crew 'dead' people whom they warned off from returning to the country.[5]

The Cubbitch Barta clan registered an Indigenous land use agreement for Helensburgh in 2011.[6]


The whale is the main totem for the Dharawal people.[7] The historical artwork (rock engravings) of the Dharawal people is visible on the sandstone surfaces throughout their language area and charcoal and ochre paintings, drawings and hand stencils can be found on hundreds of rock surfaces and in the many dozens of rock shelters and overhangs in that area of land.[citation needed] There is a public viewing site of one group of engravings at Jibbon Point, showing a whale and a wallaby, celebrating successful hunts and whale strandings.[8] Those engravings are marred by recent European inclusions. The original Jibbon point engravings (pecked and abraided petroglyphs) show a pod of killer whales hunting a seal.

It has been claimed that there were no remaining descendants of the Dharawal people; however, after the Mabo v Queensland verdict and the Native Title Act 1993 there have been claims lodged by descendants of the Wodiwodi clan who claim to have survived the early decimations and gradually moved back into the areas formally occupied by other clans. These Wodi Wodi clansmen are claiming lineage to the Dharawal tribe. Others claim descent from the Gweagal clan.[citation needed]

The Dharawal people lived mainly by the produce of local plants, fruits and vegetables and by fishing and gathering shellfish products. The men also hunted land mammals and speared fish. The women collected the vegetable foods and were well known for their fishing and canoeing prowess. There are a large number of shell middens still visible in the areas around the southern Sydney area and a glimpse of the Dharawal lifestyle can be drawn from an understanding of the kitchen rubbish left on the midden sites.[citation needed]

Alternative names[edit]

  • Carawal. (Pacific islands phonetic system, c had the value of th)
  • Darawad
  • Ta-ga-ry. (tagara = north)
  • Thurawal
  • Thurrawal
  • Thurrawall
  • Turawal
  • Turrubul
  • Turuwal
  • Turuwul
  • Turuwull

Source: Tindale 1974, p. 198

See also[edit]


  1. ^ This map is indicative only



  • Bursill, L. (2007). Dharawal : the story of the Dharawal-speaking people of Southern Sydney. Sydney: Kurranulla Aboriginal Corporation.
  • "Cubbitch Barta Clan of the Dharawal People Indigenous Land Use Agreement (ILUA)". Agreements, Treaties and Negotiated Settlements (ATNS) project. Retrieved 31 July 2020.
  • Dousset, Laurent (2005). "Tharawal". AusAnthrop (Australian Aboriginal tribal database). Archived from the original on 16 October 2014. Retrieved 4 January 2013.
  • Goodall, Heather; Cadzow, Allison (2014). "Gogi". Dictionary of Sydney. Dictionary of Sydney Trust. Retrieved 9 October 2015.
  • Higgins, Isabella; Collard, Sarah (28 April 2020). "Captain James Cook's landing and the Indigenous first words contested by Aboriginal leaders". Dictionary of Sydney. ABC News.
  • "Language information: Dharawal". AIATSIS. 23 August 2012. Retrieved 4 January 2013.
  • Organ, Michael K.; Speechley, Carol (1997). "Illawarra Aborigines – an Introductory History". In Hagan, J. S.; Wells, A. (eds.). A History of Wollongong. University of Wollongong Press. pp. 7–22.
  • Ridley, William (1875). Kámilarói, and other Australian languages (PDF). Sydney: T. Richards, government printer – via Internet Archive.
  • Tindale, Norman Barnett (1974). "Tharawal(NSW)". Aboriginal Tribes of Australia: Their Terrain, Environmental Controls, Distribution, Limits, and Proper Names. Australian National University Press. ISBN 978-0-708-10741-6.
  • Watt, Bruce (2014). The Shire: A journey through time. Cronulla, Australia: Bruce Watt. pp. 11, 26, 27, 67. ISBN 978-064692019-1.
  • Watt, Bruce (2019). Dharawal: the first contact people; 250 years of black and white relations. Cronulla, Australia: Bruce Watt. pp. vi, vii, 3, 5, 21, 43, 46, 50, 56, 87, 95, 111–114, 112, 121–122. ISBN 978-064699683-7.
  • Williams, Shayne T. "An indigenous Australian perspective on Cook's arrival". BBC News.

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]