Waverley is approximately 9km from Sydney’s CBD and covers 9km2. Waverley is a densely populated area, with a rich Aboriginal history and ethnically diverse community. Bondi has been positioned as a destination for visitors for over 135 years, when Bondi Beach was officially opened to the public in 1882.
Today, it is accepted that the gadigal, bidiagal and birrabirragal are clan groups that occupied the area between Sydney Harbour and Botany Bay which include the Waverley. Approximately 1,500 Aboriginal people were estimated to have lived between Broken Bay and Botany Bay before European settlement.
In traditional Aboriginal societies boundaries were not defined the same way western boundaries are defined and maintained. Aboriginal people’s relationship with their country was spiritually motivated and connected to their dreaming.
In coastal Sydney Aboriginal people were heavily impacted by colonisation including development of traditional lands and past government policies that restricted the teaching of traditional knowledge.
“Bondi” or “Boondi” is an aboriginal word meaning “water breaking over rocks” or “noise of water breaking over rocks.” The Gadigal, who witnessed the arrival of the First Fleet, recorded their impressions of the Europeans by engraving a fully-rigged ship at Bellevue Hill just outside Waverley.
Although unknown to many visitors, Waverley’s Aboriginal cultural heritage can be identified through a range of archaeological remains and natural features of Waverley landscape. There are currently 11 registered Aboriginal Archaeological Sites in the Waverley LGA. Rock carvings found along coastal areas of Bondi Beach are believed to be approximately 2,000 years old.
For lots more important and fascinating local history, download Waverley Aboriginal Cultural Heritage Study, prepared by Dominic Steele Consulting Archaeology in 2009 on behalf of Waverley Council.
The document presents the findings, conclusions and recommendations developed for the Waverley Aboriginal Cultural Heritage Study which have been established in consultation with the La Perouse Local Aboriginal Land Council and the Dharawal Elders Group.