Darug people
aka Dharug, Dharruk, Dharrook, Darrook, Dharung, Broken Bay tribe[1]
IBRA 6.1 Sydney Basin.png
Sydney Basin bioregion
Language family:Pama–Nyungan
Language branch:Yuin–Kuric
Language group:Dharug
Group dialects:Dharuk, Gamaraygal, Iora
Area (approx. 6,000 sq. km)
Location:Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
Coordinates:33°35′S 150°35′E / 33.583°S 150.583°E / -33.583; 150.583Coordinates: 33°35′S 150°35′E / 33.583°S 150.583°E / -33.583; 150.583[1]
Mountains:Blue Mountains
Rivers:Cooks, Georges, Hawkesbury, Lane Cove, Nepean, Parramatta
Notable individuals
Anthony Fernando

The Darug or Dharug people are an Aboriginal Australian people, which shares strong ties of kinship and, in pre-colonial times, survived as skilled hunters in family groups or clans, scattered throughout much of what is modern-day Sydney.

The Darug, originally a Western Sydney people, were bounded by the Kuringgai to the northeast around Broken Bay, the Darkinjung to the north, the Wiradjuri to the west on the eastern fringe of the Blue Mountains, the Gandangara to the southwest in the Southern Highlands, the Eora to the east[2] and the Tharawal to the southeast in the Illawarra area.

Darug language

The Dharug, now largely extinct, is generally considered one of two dialects, the other being the language spoken by the neighbouring Eora, constituting a single language.[3][4] The word myall, a pejorative word in Australian dialect denoting any Aborigine who kept up a traditional way of life,[5] originally came from the Dharug language term mayal, which denoted any person hailing from another tribe.[6]


Norman Tindale reckoned Darug lands as encompassing 2,300 square miles (6,000 km2), taking in the mouth of the Hawkesbury River, and running inland as far as Mount Victoria. It took in the areas around Campbelltown, Liverpool, Camden, Penrith and Windsor.[1]

Social organization

Traditionally, in contemporary Dharug thinking, there was a cultural divide between the western Darug and the Eora, whom they call the coastal Darug, katungal or "sea people". They built canoes and their diet was primarily seafood, including fish and shellfish from Sydney Harbour, Botany Bay and their associated rivers. The inland Darug were paiendra or "tomahawk people". They hunted kangaroos, emus and other land animals and used stone axes more extensively.[7]


The Darug nation was divided up into a number of woodland clans who each tended to live in a certain geographic area. This geographic area would also house descendant clans. Each clan typically included 50 to 100 people. According to James Kohen, they numbered 15.

  • (1) Bediagal
  • (2) Bidjigal
  • (3) Boolbainora
  • (4) Burreberongal
  • (5) Burramattagal
  • (6) Cabragal
  • (7) Cannemegal
  • (8) Cattai
  • (9) Gommerigal
  • (10) Kurrajong
  • (11) Mulgoa
  • (12) Murringong
  • (13) Tugagal[a]
  • (14) Wandeandegal
  • (15) Warrawarry[8]

History of contact

Smallpox, introduced in 1789 by the British settlers, wiped out up to 90% of the population in some areas.[9] They lived in the natural caves and overhangs in the sandstone of the Hawksbury region, although some did choose to make huts out of bark, sticks and branches.

Recent controversy

A strong centre of cultural attachment for the Darug people has been the "Blacks Town" (at the modern suburb of Colebee) in the Blacktown local government area (formerly Blacktown Shire). However, in September 2012 the Blacktown City Council decided to cease recognising the Darug tribe as the traditional owners of the area. The Council also passed a motion, opposed by some councillors, to begin a process to consider changing the name "Blacktown". An online petition was launched calling for the recognition of the Darug. According to one of the Liberal Councillors, Jess Diaz, "a consensus must be reached once and for all on who composed the traditional owners apart from the Darug people".[10]

Notable Darug people

  • Anthony Fernando, early twentieth century activist
  • Daniel Moowattin, third Australian Aboriginal person to visit England
  • Marion Leane Smith, only Australian Aboriginal woman known to have served in the First World War
  • Yarramundi A Boorooberongal clansman, whose daughter Maria Lock and grandson Colebee has a significant role in early assimilation history.

Alternative names

  • Broken Bay tribe
  • Dharruk, Dharrook, Dhar'rook, Darrook, Dharug

Source: Tindale 1974, p. 193

See also


  1. ^ Just a quick note - alternative spelling Toongagal, as per Parramatta River article.


  1. ^ a b c Tindale 1974, p. 193.
  2. ^ Mossfield 2000, p. 157.
  3. ^ Dixon 2002, p. xxxv.
  4. ^ Troy 1992, p. 145.
  5. ^ Wilson & O'Brien 2003, p. 63, n.26.
  6. ^ Hughes 1989, p. 354.
  7. ^ Flynn 1997, p. 3.
  8. ^ Mossfield 2000, p. 158.
  9. ^ Petersen, Chen & Schlagenhauf-Lawlor 2017, p. 5.
  10. ^ Diaz 2012, p. 5.


  • Diaz, Jess (1 November 2012). "A Liberal controlled City Council of Blacktown". Kalatas Australia.
  • Dixon, Robert M. W. (2002). Australian Languages: Their Nature and Development. Volume 1. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 978-0-521-47378-1.
  • Flynn, Michael (August 1997). "Holroyd history and the Silent Boundary Project" (PDF). Holroyd City Council.
  • Hughes, Joan (1989). Australian words and their origins. Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-195-53087-2.
  • Mathews, R. H. (1897). "Burbung of the Darkinung tribes" (PDF). Proceedings of the Royal Society of Victoria. 10: 1–12.
  • Mathews, R. H. (January 1898). "Initiation ceremonies of Australian tribes: Appendix Nguttan initiation ceremony". Proceedings of the American Philosophical Society. 37 (157): 54–73. JSTOR 983694.
  • Mathews, R. H. (1901). "Dharruk language and vocabulary". Proceedings of the Royal Society of New South Wales. 35: 155–160.
  • Mathews, R. H.; Everitt, Mary Martha (1900). "Organisation, language and initiation ceremonies of the aborigines of the south-east coast of New South Wales". Proceedings of the Royal Society of New South Wales. 34: 262–281.
  • Mossfield, Tony (2000). "Yooroang Gorang –Strong Place". In Collins, Jock; Poynting, Scott (eds.). The Other Sydney: Communities, Identities and Inequalities in Western Sydney. Common Ground. pp. 151–180. ISBN 978-1-863-35017-4.
  • Petersen, Eskild; Chen, Lin Hwei; Schlagenhauf-Lawlor, Patricia (2017). Infectious Diseases: A Geographic Guide (2nd ed.). John Wiley & Sons. ISBN 978-1-119-08574-4.
  • Tindale, Norman Barnett (1974). "Daruk (NSW)". Aboriginal Tribes of Australia: Their Terrain, Environmental Controls, Distribution, Limits, and Proper Names. Australian National University.
  • Troy, Jakelin (1992). "The Sydney Language Notebooks and responses to language contact in early colonial NSW" (PDF). Australian Journal of Linguistics. 12 (1): 145–170.
  • Tuckerman, J. (1887). "The Hawkesbury River and Broken Bay" (PDF). In Curr, Edward Micklethwaite (ed.). The Australian race: its origin, languages, customs, place of landing in Australia and the routes by which it spread itself over the continent. Volume 3. Melbourne: J. Ferres. pp. 358–359.
  • Wilson, Bill; O'Brien, Justin (2003). ""To infuse an universal terror": a reappraisal of the Coniston killings" (PDF). Aboriginal History. 17: 59–78.

External links