Gadigal and Wangal people of the Eora nation

This post is to acknowledge the traditional owners of the land in the Inner West. Inner West Council acknowledges the prior ownership of this area by the Gadigal people who were dispossessed by European invasion more than two hundred years ago.

We celebrate the survival of Aboriginal people and their culture following the impact of European invasion and support their right to determine their own future.

There many different groups within the Australian Aboriginal community. The traditional Aboriginal Groups of inner Sydney Ashfield, Leichhardt Marrickville region are the Gadigal and Wangal clans of the Eora nation.

Gadigal land lies south of Port Jackson and stretches from South Head to Petersham with part of the southern boundary lying on the Cooks River. On the western border lies the territory of the Wangal clan, which extends along the southern shore of the Parramatta River to Parramatta.

Suburbs close to the city such as Glebe are also the home of the Gadigal and Wangal ancestors, and the surrounding bushland was rich in plant, bird and animal life with fish and rock oysters available from Blackwattle Bay.

Aboriginal communities in the Inner West region are part of a thriving metropolitan area, forming an important part of Sydney’s cultural and spiritual mosaic.

Ashfield Prior to the arrival of Europeans, the area now known as Ashfield within a broader area Wangal people moved and lived, having migrated from South East Asia and then downwards. Exact numbers are unknown, some research indicates there was between 8000 and 10000 aboriginal people in the broader Sydney region, fluctuating with the seasons and tribal conflict. Their territory was believed to be centred on modern-day Concord and stretched east to the swampland of Long Cove Creek (now known as Hawthorne Canal). The land was heavily wooded at the time with tall eucalypts covering the higher ground and a variety of swampy trees along Iron Cove Creek. The people hunted by killing native animals and fish. Violence is known to have occurred both between tribes and within tribes, in particular towards women.

Leichhardt The history of Aboriginal people in the Leichhardt area is, without doubt, a hidden one. What we today know as the Leichhardt Municipality was once the area inhabited by the Wangal band of the Dharug (Eora) language group. The “Eora people” was the name given to coastal Aborigines around Sydney – Eora means “from this place” – local Aboriginal people used this word to describe to Europeans where they came from, and in time the term became used to define Aboriginal people themselves. Wangal country was known as wanne and it originally extended from the suburbs of Balmain and Birchgrove in the east to Silverwater and Auburn in the west.

The northern boundary was the Parramatta River. Neighbouring Darug bands were the Gadiga to the east, the Wallumattagal on the northern shore of the Parramatta River and the Bediagal to the south. How long the Wangal had lived around Leichhardt is unknown, but we do know that the Dharug were living in the Sydney area for at least 10,000 years before the British invasion in 1788.

Occupation sites are areas that show a concentration of debris associated with human occupation. Rock shelters and overhangs were used to provide campsites sheltered from wind, rain and sun. Charcoal, baked clay, fire blackened stones, food remains (usually shell or bone) and stone tools are commonly found in occupation sites.

Middens composed predominantly of shells are essentially the remains of shellfish meals eaten on the spot by Aboriginal people over a long period of time. Fish and shellfish were the main foods of Aboriginal people living around the harbour, with fishing being an important activity of daily life for both men and women.

In the Leichhardt Municipality 16 midden sites have been identified with 4 being readily accessible to the public. Shell middens can be seen at Whitehorse Point in Elkington Park , Balmain and in Rozelle on the foreshore at Callan Point. The other sites are on private property.

The middens are dated at approximately 4, 500 years old, and are recognised as significant by the Metropolitan Local Aboriginal Land Council and archaeologists. A series of interpretive signs can be found at these sites as well as at Yurulbin Point in Birchgrove, recognising the traditional owners of the Leichhardt area.

In 2004, following a change in the boundaries of the Leichhardt local government area, Leichhardt Council, in consultation with the Local Metropolitan Land Council, adopted the names Birrabirragal/Balmain, Wangal/Rozelle-Lilyfield, Gadigal/Annandale-Leichhardt and Eora/Leichhardt-Lilyfield for its four ward structure in recognition of coastal Sydney’s Aboriginal history.


The traditional owners of the land are Gadigal of the Eora Nation. The Aboriginal name for the area is Bulanaming.

Gumbramorra Swamp
Following European settlement, Marrickville was a place where runaway convicts could easily hide out in the bush or disappear quietly into the Gumbramorra swamp, which was a natural boundary between Marrickville and what now comprises the suburbs of St Peters, Sydenham and Tempe. The swamp was almost always impassable.

The role of the swamp wetlands played an important part in Aboriginal life as a source of plants and animals. It supported a dense growth of thatch reed, providing an excellent habitat for a variety of birds, particularly swamp hens, moorhens, ducks, gulls and the occasional pelican.

After European settlement its role in the ecological system was not fully understood or appreciated, and the swamp was drained in the 1890s to facilitate the industrialisation of the suburb.



3.Chrys Meader


Annandale Royal Theatre – memoirs and a demolition in 1960

Situated on Johnson Street the Royal opened in 1925 with seating for 1,333

patrons. This theatre screened revival programmes for a number of years.

When local residents heard that the theatre was to be sold, they immediately

organised a large petition to try to save same from closure. Unfortunately

this was not successful and the Royal closed in August 1960.

Demolition followed and a service station now occupies the site.


In 1912 the Annandale Theatre opened in Johnston Street, in Johnston Street, near Booth Street. It was much more convenient for North Annandale folk, and Waddington’s lost its appeal. Built by Messrs Schell & Tome, the Annandale Theatre was open-air, with timber seats, iron sheets and timber front and sides. The picture screen faced west and silent films were accompanied by a pianist. The new theatre was built around the old building.

My earliest recollection of the Annandale Theatre dates back to I remember the name of Mr Schell but knew the Tome family. Mr Tome conducted the business, Mrs Tome attended to the ticket box, son Car 1 supervised, and daughter Netta played the piano. Mr. Pickard collected the tickets and also supervised.

A red concrete floor and mirror-walls formed an entrance foyer where easel display-boards advertised coming films. In the foyer’s centre ‘and above a mirror-walled ticket box, were large-framed coloured photographs of Norma Talmadge, Constance Bennett, Gloria Swanson, John Barrymore, Charles Chaplin and Mildred Harris. Strong wire-meshed partitions protected the foyer after closing times and informed patrons of coming films. Swinging double timber gates, manproofed with barbed wire, surmounted with hoardings advertising the current week’s programmes. There was a timber lockup confectionery shop inside the double gates on the Booth Street boundary.

The screen was on Johnston Street boundary in a galvanised-iron building. The sliding galvanisediron panels were kept open except in very cold weather. Unexpected rain

created a panic, sometimes the manually operated wire ropes jammed, the audience cheered and urged the harrassed wire pullers to hasten.

On each side of the entrance foyer, asphalted space surrounds led to two wide entrance doors and gave access to two-thirds of the theatre’s asphalted floors and aisles. The rear of “up-the-back” of the theatre had flooring boards. Access aisles to “up-the-back” were provided by meshed wire partitions and enclosed the “cushion seats” and “chairs”. Admission price was threepence “up-the-back” to wooden benches with back rests. The access aisles were complemented with two smaller aisles and divided the 16 seating into three blocks. The graduated flooring provided tiered seating. The operator’s box was at the rear of the centre block, and its side door opened for coolness. The matinee children would watch ·the operator at work but it was noisy and we tired of that activity. The operator’s patience was magnificent: he ignored us.Admission price was sixpence to the front benches with leather upholstery and back rests. These were divided into two blocks by a middle and two side aisles and referred to as the “pushion” seats by the small children. Three silken cords across these aisles divided the cushion seats from the “chairs”, which cost a shilling, and an extra charge ofsixpence for a reserved seat.

For the full story follow this link to the Leichhardt Historical Journal No:5

Reference: Leichhardt Historical Journal No:5 June 1975

Author: Margaret Quinn

Image 1: A Pictorial History of Sydney’s  Suburban Cinemas Barry Sharp Volume 1 pg. 121

Image 2 A Pictorial History of Sydney’s  Suburban Cinemas Barry Sharp Volume 1 pg. 123


Exhibition: Sign Language – The Lost Stories of Local Shop Signs by George Catsi

Sign Language – The Lost Stories of Local Shop Signs by George Catsi

Opening Thursday 2nd March  6pm for 6:30pm start
Exhibition @ Leichhardt Library

George Catsi will be exhibiting a limited number of his collection of signs taken from closed shops locally and beyond. Displayed as art, each sign holds a story of aspiration and ultimately closure.

George selects his signs based on an array of personal criteria – did the shop have personal or local significance or notoriety, use of outdated typography, old Perspex style signs with Perspex lettering, representing a passing such as the end of ethnic based shops in Leichhardt and Dulwich Hill or just a gut feeling.

George is a multi-disciplinary writer / performer / artist / academic who lives in Petersham and is part of Kimbo Studios in Leichhardt. He was National winner of Denton fellowship for excellence / courage in performance writing for his satirical theatre production called “I Want to Be Slim” (production 2017/8). He holds a Doctorate in Creative Arts from the University of Technology, Sydney (UTS).

The exhibition will be on display at Leichhardt Library from 1-29 March 2017.
Bookings for Opening Night
Should you have any queries, please call 9367 9266

1940s Annandale Short Walk

New Book Available on I tunes  and Kindle


During the 1940s Annandale factories and warehouses stored munitions and manufactured equipment for World War 2. This activity made Annandale a military target. Air Raid shelters were erected to protect workers, school children and residents…more

1940s Annandale: A Short Walk is the sixth book in a series which delves into the history of Annandale. Each book covers a decade of of Annandale’s History in the form of a self guided walk around the small suburb in Sydney’s Inner West.

“Escapologist” Darcy Dugan came to live in Annandale in the 1940s.

The end of the 1940s saw the amalgamation of Annandale, Balmain, Glebe into the Leichardt Council.

Marghanita da Cruz has been gathering an Anecdotal History of Annandale since 1998. In 2010, Marghanita began guiding historical walks around Annandale and publishing these as self guided illustrated walks.

Photograph Back Cover: Tony Grech, 25 August 2013