Connection to Country: The cultural heritage of our District

At 468 square kilometres, our District is one of the largest local health districts in Sydney. Hugging the coastline from the Sydney CBD down to the Royal National Park, the area is rich in Aboriginal history. 

The largest Aboriginal site in our District is Kamay Botany Bay National Park. Stretching from La Perouse to Kurnell, the beautiful coastal landscapes and marine waters of Kamay Bay, or Gamay Country, are home to many heritage-listed cultural sites of great significance to Australian history.  

An area rich in history 

The beautiful beaches and sheltered coves of La Perouse contain evidence of the lives of Aboriginal people before European settlement, including middens and engravings illustrating the everyday observations and practices. 

The Gweagal people first saw the HMB Endeavour sail into Botany Bay from the headland at Kurnell in 1770. Three large bronze sculptures of significance to the Gweagal Aboriginal People were installed in the area in 2020, to acknowledge the 250th anniversary of this first encounter between Aboriginal Australians and the crew of the Endeavour.  

Lauren Phillips, Aboriginal Project Officer in the Aboriginal Health Directorate, says the southern headland of Kamay Bay is one of her favourite places to walk. 

“My family and I love visiting Kurnell. We walk along the waterline to see the sculpture depicting the bones of a whale and the ribs of a ship, and the other of the canoes. The highlight of our walks is always the beautiful sculpture of the mother and baby whale on the point.”  

Along the shoreline, midden sites provide evidence of the rich variety of sea foods enjoyed by Aboriginal people, as well as reptiles and mammals which also lived in the area. Fishing was the major source of food for Aboriginal people of the area. Fishhooks were made from shells, and fishing lines and nets were made from bark and native grasses. Timber from Kurnell and La Perouse was used as bark for huts, canoes, and coolamons, and lomandra leaves were woven together to make bags.  

The abundance of food and resources made the area ideal for important gatherings. Several ceremonial and meeting places can be found scattered across the north and south headlands of Kamay Bay. 

Preserving Country 

The Gamay Rangers care for the land and waters of Gamay Country. They undertake natural and cultural resource management activities including patrolling the waters of Botany Bay, marine mammal awareness and protection, cultural heritage protection and conservation, threatened species management, cultural and environmental awareness for recreational vessel operators, and visitor experience. 

Pictured: The team from Menai Narrangy Booris Aboriginal Child and Family Health Service at Kurnell.

Menai Narrangy Booris Aboriginal Child and Family Health Service at Kurnell