HAWKESBURY aboriginal tribal leaders who welcomed Governor Arthur Phillip when he arrived on their land over two centuries ago have been recognised with a Hawkesbury Australia Day Posthumous Commemorative Plaque Award.
The traditional custodians of the Hawkesbury land, Aboriginal tribal leaders who were known to their people as Caradgee or wise men and doctors of their tribe, called the Darug people, are said to have welcomed Governor Phillip to their land in friendship on 14 April 1791 at Bardenarang Creek -- known at the time as Bardo Narang (meaning ‘little water’) -- at Pitt Town Bottoms.
The tribal leaders’ names were Gombeeree and his son Yellowmundi -- the latter of which is the namesake of the suburb of Yarramundi.
Descendants of Gombeeree and Yellowmundi attended the Hawkesbury Australia Day Awards Ceremony at the Windsor Function Centre on Australia Day, accepting the plaque on behalf of their ancestors.
Local historian John Miller -- who presented the award along with Hawkesbury Mayor, Councillor Kim Ford -- said he wished to pay respect to the traditional custodians of the land, past and present, who cared for the land for many thousands of years.
“Governor Arthur Phillip had previously explored what he named the Hawkesbury River, from Broken Bay to Richmond Hill at the confluence of the Grose River in July 1789, on year after settlement by the English when the first fleet arrived in January 1788,” Miller said.
“He decided to try and find Richmond Hill by travelling overland in 1791 from Parramatta.”
It was reported in the diary of Captain Watkin Tench in his book ‘Sydney’s First Four Years 1788-1791’ that Governor Phillip, along with two Sydney Aborigines Colebee and Boladeree who acted as guides, led a party of men to the Hawkesbury via Baulkham Hills, through Maraylya and Cattai, to Pitt Town Bottoms and then to the Hawkesbury River.
“When they reached the river they saw aborigines coming along in canoes. Governor Phillip thought that they were going to be attached and sent the two guides to go and parlay with them,” said Miller.
“When they came ashore, leader of the group, Combeeree, presented Governor Phillip with two spears and two stone axes as a sign of friendship. They were not aggressive nor did they show signs of fear.
“The two groups dined together that night, happily exchanging stories.”
The Hawkesbury Australia Day Awards program is organised annually by Hawkesbury City Council to recognise contributions to the Hawkesbury by dedicated individuals. A range of other awards was presented on the day, including Hawkesbury Citizen of the Year and Young Citizen of the Year.