South West Sydney Legal Centre


All of us at South West Sydney Legal Centre respectfully acknowledge the traditional owners of the land on which we operate.

The traditional custodians of the land in Liverpool are the Cabrogal Clan of the Darug Nation. It is also acknowledged that the land was accessed by peoples of the Tharawal and Gandangara Nations. There are many sites across Liverpool today, such as the Georges River, which are recognised as sites of Aboriginal historical significance.

In 1795 when Bass and Flinders first explored the Georges River before the colonisation of the Liverpool area, the Darug, Tharawal and Gandangara tribes lived in the area.  These three tribal groups were divided into smaller clans or bands – extended family units consisting of up to sixty people.  Each of these clans was named after the area of land where they normally resided, and with which the people had traditional links.

The suffix ‘gal’ was added to the place name to distinguish the members of that clan.  The clan group around Liverpoool was the Cabrogal named after the cohbra (or cahbra) grubs they harvested at the banks of the Georges River especially near Cabramatta Creek.

The main contact between groups was during ceremonial gatherings.  There were linguistic and cultural differences, as well as economic ones.  There was also a complicated system of kinship and totems which prevented certain types of contact.

It is difficult to pinpoint exact language boundaries as information came from early colonists, explorers and ethnographers trying to interpret Aboriginal languages.  It is thought that the Tharawal language was spoken from south of Botany Bay to the area east of the Georges River (Holsworthy area) to as far south as Jervis Bay and the Darug language on the western side of the Georges River, as well as in the area west of Sydney from the Hawkesbury River to Appin and Picton and as far west as the Blue Mountains.  Gandangara is said to be the language of the ‘mountain’ people from the Blue Mountains to the Nattai and Burragorang Valleys and as far south as Goulburn.  Current Local Land Council boundaries differ from these ‘traditional’ boundaries.

The Cabrogal clan was recognised as one of the ‘wood tribes’ by Europeans, together with Aborigines living at South Creek, at Cowpastures near Camden, and at Mulgoa near Penrith.

While the Aboriginal economy was dependent on harvesting resources with only very little modification to the environment, the Europeans quickly set about clearing the land and planting crops which prevented the Aboriginal people from carrying out their traditional hunting of animals and gathering of plant foods.

In 2011, 2,677 people in Liverpool identified as Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander, making up 1.5 per cent of the population. The proportion is slightly higher than Greater Sydney (1.2%). Most of Liverpool lies within Gandangara Local Aboriginal Land Council boundaries, with some parts in the south within Tharawal Local Aboriginal Land Council.

These days the local Aboriginal community is made up of different groups and clans from across Australia. Many Aboriginal people can be easily approached when it comes to Aboriginal cultural matters.

South West Sydney Legal Centre