Where's the evidence? The archaeology of Sydney's Aboriginal history



Archaeological research into Sydney's Aboriginal past has overwhelmingly focused on the pre-contact period, while historical archaeology focusing on Aboriginal heritage has mostly been undertaken in regional or remote areas. Despite this, a range of approaches and techniques has been developed through these and other studies that can now be applied to the Aboriginal historical archaeology of urban areas. This paper collates and examines the physical evidence of the historical Aboriginal use of Sydney, which reveals a continuous history of Aboriginal associations with the Sydney area. Although scant, the physical evidence can be combined with detailed archival research to create a more rounded picture of how Aboriginal people responded to the growth of urban centres like Sydney. Many documented Aboriginal links to places (including extant buildings) are intangible associations but can be mapped to illustrate the complex and shifting connections which typify urban Aboriginal histories. The range of available methods and sources also provides broader scope for meaningful collaborations with urban Aboriginal communities, which are essential for this research to succeed.