Life on the coast of Sydney

People living around the coast and estuaries of Sydney spent much of their time fishing. It continued to be an essential part of their lives even after British colonisation. Hunting kangaroos, wallabies and possums, and collecting shellfish, plants foods and smaller mammals and reptiles provided variety to their diet.

Coast and coastal hinterland

For the purposes of the Port Jackson Archaeological project the coastal zone was defined as the land within 29-30 km of the coastline. The coastal zone includes the ocean shoreline, Port Jackson, Broken Bay, Port Hacking and Botany Bay, and the estuarine reaches of the different rivers running into these bays. It also includes the land adjacent to the waters.

The coastal hinterland extends west from the limits of estuarine conditions as far as the foot of the Blue Mountains escarpment.

Estuarine conditions exist along the Parramatta River and Georges River for about 29 km from the coast. Along the Hawkesbury River the boundary between coastal and hinterland is around 29-30 km from the coast, even though the tidal influences extend much further. The boundary is placed here because upstream of this point shellfish no longer grow in large numbers and could not contribute substantially to the diet of Aboriginal people in this area.


Dr Val Attenbrow , Principal Research Scientist
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