In 2017, historian Grace Karskens stumbled across an astonishing document in the Mitchell Library: a list of over 170 long-lost Aboriginal names for places on Dyarubbin, the Hawkesbury River. The list was compiled early in 1829 by a young Presbyterian minister, the Reverend John McGarvie, incumbent at Pitt Town. Not only did he carefully record the names given to him by Aboriginal informants, in many cases he included locations.
Almost 100 of these names have been relocated and mapped through a collaborative project, Dyarubbin: The Real Secret River, funded by the State Library of New South Wales’ Coral Thomas Fellowship. Bit by bit, these names are revealing lost geographies of river forests, plants and animals, zones of saltwater and fresh, men’s, women’s and ceremonial places, and areas of profound sacred significance.
In this fascinating webinar session, Darug team members Leanne Watson and Erin Wilkins join historian Grace Karskens in a discussion of this significant project.