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Lieutenant Dawes

(1762-1836) Dawes William officer of marines, astronomy, scientist, gunner, linguist and regarded as an academic and intellectual of the fledgling Occupation was also considered Bubana (Bobbina) brother and member of the Darug bloodline, concerning his relationship with a young Darug/gadigal/kamay women Pateyerong (Badagarung) the Grey Kangaroo from the country of the Boorooberongal/Darug nations.

Lt Dawes loved astronomy and would spend hours contemplating the constellations of the great southern skyline, keeping detail notes of his discoveries the young officer would continually ask the Darug yura for the names of the lights in the sky. Keeping a manuscript he would denote the word Birrung (birrong) to describe the word for star. The elder people that had paid close attention to the young officer thought it be better for both parties to learn of the others tongue.

An attraction begins between young William and teenager Badagarung.

It is from this association that Dharug/iyura words for Cap, Belt, Muskett, Mirror, Glass came into being, many of these terms can be discovered in the Dalang word list.

We can only imagine what the young Officer might have been thinking sitting by the banks of the river learning the names of fish and birds of prey, or standing on the beach Buwandi (bondi) or meeting the Iyura around present day Circular Quay Kamay. Imagine his first efforts with trying to pronounce the name of the sea Garrigarrang or barrawal.

A world away from times spent fighting against the French and being wounded in September 1781 off Chesapeake Bay. Or being picked by Reverend Dr. Nevil Maskelyne and Royal Observatory to watch for the comet expected during the year 1788.

Was he thinking about the trouble he might cause sitting and learning of the customs and language of Iyura/Darug country? Did his days being wounded or kept prisoner play on his conscience, did memories of riding with Paul Rever coming flooding back? Or had the young officer found himself living in a place with the most brilliant night sky, as he said the word Birrung to himself. Had William anticipated falling in love with the young and beautiful Badagarung, or being found to out of sorts with Phillip due his refusal to take part in a punitive expedition against the Boorooberongal of Burramada.

Regardless of the treatment metered out to the young Artillery Officer by members of the Marines Commanded by Major Ross, Lt William Dawes built a thatch hut to make his observations, designed and built The Gunnery Battery at Dawes Point, at the time the Gentry would refer to the Battery as Maskelyne', after the Reverend Astronomer. First erected to protect the harbor from foreign enemies such as the French and Russians. Numerous members of the Gadigal/Gweagal/Wongal/Bidjigal peoples of Kamay Darug Nations living in and around the N.S.W colony of present day Sydney.

A few people retain some knowledge of the language, despite their people having suffered the longest history of colonisation, dispossession and displacement in Australia.

Recently, efforts have begun to revive the language, supported by members of the community and by the NSW Department of Education and Training. Dharuk is currently taught at Chifley College, Dunheved Campus and at Doonside Technical High School by Mr Richard Green. Richard prefers to call himself “an exponent, not an expert”.

The language documented by William Dawes has frequently been called ‘The Sydney Language’, following Jakelin Troy (1994). The language spoken at the coast and that spoken a little inland were probably dialectal variants of one language, with other, more distinct languages spoken further afield (as were ‘discovered’ by the 1791 expedition mentioned above).


FLINDERS, MATTHEW (1774-1814), navigator, hydrographer and scientist, was born on 16 March 1774 at Donington, Lincolnshire, England, the son of Matthew Flinders, a surgeon, and his wife Sussannah, née Ward. He was educated at Donington Grammar School and by the vicar of Horbling; then, having developed a longing to go to sea, partly through reading Robinson Crusoe, and determined to embark upon a life of exploration, he entered the navy in 1789. In 1791 he served with diligence under William Bligh as midshipman on a voyage to Tahiti and, returning to England, saw action in H.M.S. Bellerophon at the naval battle of the Glorious First of June 1794. Next year he sailed from England for Port Jackson in H.M.S. Reliance in which George Bass was surgeon. After he arrived there he made two hazardous trips with Bass in small open boats, exploring Botany Bay and George's River on the first, and then, after a brief visit to Norfolk Island, going farther south to Lake Illawarra. He rejoined the Reliance for a voyage to the Cape of Good Hope to bring back livestock.

In 1798 Flinders, now lieutenant, joined the schooner Francis on a visit to the Furneaux Islands and carried out useful hydrographic work. A second visit to Norfolk Island followed, after which, in company with George Bass, he circumnavigated Van Diemen's Land in the sloop Norfolk from 7 October 1798 to 12 January 1799, and thus proved it to be an island. He then examined parts of the Queensland coast, but although he entered Glass House Bay, he did not discover the Brisbane River. In March 1800 he sailed for England in the Reliance, where reports of his outstanding ability had preceded him. While in England in 1801 he published his Observations on the Coasts of Van Diemen's Land, on Bass's Strait and its Islands, and on Part of the Coasts of New South Wales, but he was chiefly concerned with preparation for an expedition whose results were to place him among the foremost navigators of all time.

Bungaree the colourfull Chief of kamay would leave his family and join Flinders on his circumnavigations of the continent. Bungaree was infamous for dressing in the regalia of the British and boarding every new vessel that entered into Port Jackson, joined by his second wife Matura', Bungaree would declare that all they surveyed belonged to the Iyura (People that come from here) informing every Captain that all would be welcome at Port as long as they respected the Lore of the Yura and shared all thier bounty with the original inhabitants.



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