Indigenous Heritage

The history of the region begins over 60,000 years ago and is contained in the continuing culture of the local Aboriginal people. The land still contains reminders of their past lives in rock engravings, cave paintings, axe grinding grooves and shell middens.

👩🏼‍🤝‍👩🏽Today we managed to sneak in a bush walk between the showers 🌧at Dharawal National Park, #Wedderburn in…

Posted by Discover South West on Friday, June 12, 2020

We would like to acknowledge the traditional custodians of this country. Thank you to the Tharawal people for the thousands of years of care and respect they have shown to this country and we pay our respects to their cultures and traditions. We would also like to thank the Aboriginal people for allowing us to work in this country, to continue working towards improving the profile of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and to educate the wider community regarding the value and integrity of Aboriginal culture and ways of knowing.  To see tours operating each month in the Dharawal National Park click here.

The lands of the Tharawal (or Dharawal) people extended from approximately Botany Bay to Shoalhaven, and then westward towards Camden.  The Tharawal were also divided into two groups, being the ‘Salt Water People’ who were along the coast, and the ‘Sweet (or Fresh) Water People’, who lived inland towards Camden. The area was not home to a single language group as it was the intersection of three language groups: the Dharug, the Tharawal, and the Gundungurra. Language groups consisted from a few hundred to several thousand people.

One of the darkest days in the history of the Aboriginal people in the area came on the 17th of April in 1816 when Governor Lachlan Macquarie ordered a raid against the people and massacred at least 14 of the Dharawal tribe. Since 2000, the day has been commemorated annually with a memorial service held at Cataract Dam.

Today in neighbouring Campbelltown, young Aboriginal people connect to their culture through dance and performance. Many programs are run at the Campbelltown Arts Centre, as part of the Campbelltown Council Aboriginal Strategy.


There are a range of accommodation options available across the Macarthur area to suit all tastes and budgets, so if you’re interested in visiting a few cultural sites why not stay the weekend? We’d love to have you.

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