National Reconciliation Week 2022

National Reconciliation Week is the time when, as Australians, we learn about our shared history, cultures and achievements. A time to explore ways in which each of us could contribute toward reconciliation.

Every year the week between 27th May to 3rd June is celebrated as National Reconciliation Week, to recognise milestones in Indigenous Australian history such as the 1967 Referendum and the High Court Mabo decision.

To celebrate Reconciliation week this year the Library has compiled a reading list of items within the collection of Wingara Mura Resource Centre, to highlight the traditional cultural practices of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples before first contact and colonisation. This topic has been selected to coincide with the exhibition of the Kamay Spears at the Chau Chak Wing Museum. The three spears taken by Lieutenant James Cook from Kamay (Botany Bay) in 1770 are on display for the first time in Sydney since they were taken more than 250 years ago.

About Wingara Mura Resource Centre

The Wingara Mura Resource Centre holds a comprehensive range of resources relating to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture and affairs. It is a non-lending research only resource centre, open to University staff, students and to the public. Books and other resources held by the Resource Centre can be located through the University of Sydney Library Catalogue.

Wingara Mura Resource Centre, Room No. N238 John Woolley Building (A20)
Science Road, University of Sydney

Monday – Friday, 9.30am – 4.30pm

Uma Ketheson | Tel: (02) 9351 7012

The below books will be on display at the Wingara Mura Resource Centre during Reconciliation week.

Drop into the Resource Centre between 2pm -4pm during the reconciliation week to have a tour of the library and to look at other valuable and interesting resources relating to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

Dharawal: The First Contact People

Author: Bruce Watt

250 years ago the first encounter between British and Aboriginal people on the east coast of Australia occurred at Botany in 1770. For the British, it heralded the beginning of endless possibilities for the Empire. For Aboriginal people, it marked the beginning of the decimation of a culture that was thousands of years old. The traditional country of these people, the Dharawal, were the coastal lands from Botany Bay to the Shoalhaven district and some distance inland. Traditional pre-contact culture and practices are outlined and these can be compared with later post-contact periods to illustrate the cumulative impacts of white contact over time.

This is a local story with national and international significance. Dharawal history and experiences in some ways provide a metaphor or parallel for all Aboriginal people across the continent and a yardstick by which to measure the clash of cultures. Though effectively decimated as a fully functioning tribal group by the 1840s, their descendants continue to live in the community and keep traditions alive. This is an account of their journey from the Dreaming to the first encounter and through to today. In some respects, it is a difficult story but it needs to be told. What’s done is done. This is our shared history. Knowing it and understanding it is a pathway to a better future

Find this title in our catalogue here.

Dharawal: The Story of the Dharawal Speaking People of Southern Sydney

Author: Les Bursil & Mary Jacobs

The social life, history, culture and customs of the Dharawal People of southern Sydney; includes Dharawal word lists and translation of the Australian National Anthem.

A collaborative work by Les Bursill, Mary Jacobs, artist Deborah Lennis, Dharawal Elder Aunty Beryl Timbery-Beller and Dharawal spokesperson Merv Ryan.

Find this title in our catalogue here.

Botany Bay: Where Histories Meet

Author: Maria Nugent

Botany Bay is renowned as the site of Captain Cook’s first landing on the east coast of New Holland in 1770, infamous as the place chosen by the British as a dumping ground for convicts and celebrated as the birthplace of Australia. Drawing on stories, objects, images, memories, and the landscape itself, this work presents Botany Bay in all of its complex significance while investigating the roles that Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal histories play in creating and sustaining local and national communities.

Maria Nugent is Fellow in the Australian Centre for Indigenous History in the School of History at ANU. She is the author or editor of five books on cross-cultural history in Australia and has published widely in Indigenous Australian history and memory studies.

About the author: Maria Nugent is Fellow in the Australian Centre for Indigenous History in the School of History at ANU. She is the author or editor of five books on cross-cultural history in Australia and has published widely in Indigenous Australian history and memory studies.

Find this title in our catalogue here.

East Coast Encounters 1770:
Reflections On a Cultural Clash

Author: Pauline Curby

Examines the first recorded contact between the Aboriginal people of Kamay Botany Bay and Europeans. The ten articles in this publication explore an eclectic selection of themes, ranging from Cook’s early life, the botanical collecting of Joseph Banks and Daniel Solander to the ‘view from the shore’ as Aboriginal contributors consider the impact of James Cook’s eighty-day visit to Kurnell in 1770. In the final article, we are transported to north Queensland to consider the interactions of the Endeavour crew with the Guugu Yimithirr people.

Find this title in our catalogue here.

Rivers and Resilience: Aboriginal People on Sydney’s Georges River

Author: Heather Goodall and Allison Cadzow

Rivers and Resilience trace the history of Aboriginal people along Sydney’s Georges River from the early periods of British and Irish settlement to the present. It offers a dramatically new approach to Aboriginal history in an urban setting in Australia. Leading historians investigate the continuities and changes experienced by Aboriginal communities in this densely settled suburban area where the continued presence of Aboriginal people, including traditional owners, is largely – and wrongly – ignored.

About the authors: Heather Goodall is an Australian academic and historian. Her research and writing focus is on Indigenous and environmental history and intercolonial networks. Dr Allison Cadzow research interests include Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people’s military service especially community perspectives, women’s participation and issues of recognition; environmental and city histories in relation to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, and women’s expedition accounts and cross-cultural histories.

Find this title in our catalogue here.

The Sydney Wars: Conflict in the Early Colony 1788-1817

Author: Stephen Gapps

Winner of the Les Carolyn Literary Prize 2020

The Sydney Wars tells the history of military engagements between Europeans and Aboriginal Australians–described as “this constant sort of war” by one early colonist–around the greater Sydney region. Telling the story of the first years of colonial Sydney in a new and original way, this provocative book is the first detailed account of the warfare that occurred across the Sydney region from the arrival of a British expedition in 1788 to the last recorded conflict in the area in 1817.

Analysing the paramilitary roles of settlers and convicts and the militia defensive systems that were deployed, it shows that white settlers lived in fear, while Indigenous people fought back as their land and resources were taken away.

About the author: Dr Stephen Gapps is a Sydney-based historian with research interests in public history and early colonial Sydney. He has written extensively on historical re-enactments, military history and the commemoration of the past. In 2011 he won a NSW Premier’s History Award for Cabrogal to Fairfield: A history of a multicultural community. Stephen is currently a curator at the Australian National Maritime Museum. In 2017 he was awarded the NSW State Library Merewether Fellowship.

Find this title in our catalogue here.

The Aborigines of the Sydney District before 1788

Author: Peter Turbet

Sydney is a young city, but the ground on which it is built and the harbour it surrounds have played host to a people and culture as ancient as any in the world. The Aborigines of the Sydney District before 1788 are the essential guide to the lives and culture of the first Sydneysiders.

Revealed in these pages are glimpses of the daily life of the Aborigines, their languages, weapons, tools and food resources, before European encroachment had taken its toll. The songs stories and rock art of the Sydney people are brought to life, and their span of occupation, population and social organisation is discussed including marriage and family, religion initiation and more.  The author makes careful use of the diaries and journals of the early settlers, together with more recent archaeological and anthropological research to bring a complex culture vividly back to life.

Find this title in our catalogue here.

Saltwater People of the Fatal Shore: Sydney’s Southern Beaches

Author: John Ogden

Awarded the 2013 Biennial Frank Broeze Maritime History Book Prize sponsored jointly by the Australian Association for Maritime History (AAMH) and the Australian National Maritime Museum (ANMM). 

This book pays homage to those remarkable people who have made this coastline home.  When asked, very few people living in Sydney know about the Aborigine people who lived along

the coast for tens of thousands of years before the coming of the Europeans. There are also many misconceptions about the culture of the first people. One common belief is that they were all somehow frightened of the ocean, but this is far from the truth. The Aborigine clans along Sydney’s beaches were true saltwater people, at home not only in the sparkling estuaries and rivers but also in the ocean waves. Theirs was a canoe culture. They fished with spears, or lines and hooks, and were accomplished swimmers completely at home in the surf. This part of our history has remained largely hidden, and it is important to reveal here the influence of our Aboriginal heritage not only on the people of Sydney, but also on our national psyche. If we had listened, the Saltwater People would have also taught us much about protecting the coast and its valuable resources.

About the author: John Ogden, also known as Oggy, was born in South Australia of Anglo-Irish descent, and may also have some Palawa heritage. An Australian photographercinematographer, writer and publisher. He has worked all over the world, his projects spanning diverse cultures and nations including SE Asia, Sri Lanka, China, Japan, Europe, South America, the USA, and Indigenous Australia.

Find this title in our catalogue here.

What the Colonists Never Knew : a History of Aboriginal Sydney

Author: Dennis Foley & Peter Read 
Forward: Bruce Pascoe 

What the Colonists Never Knew paints a vivid picture of what it was like to grow up Aboriginal in Sydney, alongside the colonists, from 1788 to the present. Peter Read’s exploration of the history of Aboriginal Sydney is interwoven with Dennis Foley’s memories of his own Gai-mariagal country, taking readers on a journey through the region’s past. This book offers an honest account of the disappointment, pain and terror experienced by Sydney’s First Peoples, and celebrates the survival of their spirit and their culture.

About the authors: Denis Foley- a Gai-mariagal man from northern Sydney, has a distinguished career as an educator, researcher and author, particularly in the areas of Indigenous culture, enterprise and entrepreneurship.

Professor Peter Read – lectured for over 30 years in Aboriginal History. Professor Read first coined the term, ‘The Stolen Generation’. In 1980, he co-founded Link-Up, a service that traces and reunites Indigenous families separated by past government policies

Find this title in our catalogue here.

Sydney Cove 1788: First Year of the Settlement of Australia

Author: John Cobley 

This astonishing scholarly book is a first-hand record of how the people in the colony of NSW lived from day to day during the first years of settlement it has been compiled entirely from contemporary sources- ships’s logs, diaries and journals.

Find this title in our catalogue here.


Author: Isobel

An account of a six-year-old aboriginal boy who became a key figure in the life of the early colony of New South Wales, Australia. Nanbaree was a 6-year-old child when he watched the First Fleet sail into Sydney Harbour. When Surgeon White adopted him, he translated for Governor Philip and lived with Thomas Watling, the artist, who documented White’s collection of animal and plant specimens. The British Museum of Natural History allowed the author of this children’s book to reproduce works from this Watling Collection.

Find this title in our catalogue here.