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Wollongong City Council

A Brief History

The Dharawal people lived on the coastal areas of Sydney between Broken Bay / Pittwater, Berowra Waters, south west to Parramatta and Liverpool and extending from there (and along the south-east coastline) into the Illawarra and Shoalhaven districts. The traditional language is also known as Dharawal and was spoken from Sydney in the north to as far south as Bega.

Traditional Dharawal clan groups and their people occupied the southern part of the Dharawal area with several camp sites around Lake Illawarra including Berkeley and Hooka Creek. Aboriginal people moved freely throughout the region and shared resources with their near neighbours without fear of trespassing.

The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population of the Illawarra region is made up of many diverse cultural and political groups and organisations. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people also identify themselves according to their cultural and national identities.

A list of Traditional Custodian Groups, Language and Knowledge holders, key Aboriginal organisations and community partners can be accessed by contacting Council's Aboriginal Community Development Officer by email or phone (02) 4227 7111.

Other nation groups residing within the Illawarra region include, but are not limited to, the Yuin, Wiradjuri, Kamilaroi, Bundjalung, Dunghutti and Gumbayggir Nations.

Cultural identities are extremely important for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. They represent different heritages, languages, cultural practices, spiritual beliefs and geographic areas.

While the Illawarra is made up of three local government areas, Wollongong, Shellharbour and Kiama, it is important to acknowledge and respect that for Aboriginal people these boundaries do not reflect the cultural boundaries of the local Aboriginal community.