Around Sydney Harbour (Port Jackson1) and Botany Bay and the intervening coastline (an area I refer to as coastal Sydney), Aboriginal names were recorded for over 100 places, though names can be linked with any certainty to only 89 locations. For the other names the specific locations to which they belong are presently unknown or unresolved. Some names, such as Bondi, Parramatta and Woolloomooloo, were adopted by the colonists and are still used today, but for many other locations the placenames given by the British colonists persisted.
The lists of Aboriginal placenames included in this paper (Tables 1.1 and 1.2, Figures 1.1 and 1.2) were compiled as part of my research into the Aboriginal occupation of the Sydney region (Attenbrow 20022). These placenames relate to specific locations, i.e. geographical features, and are not the names of clan or language group territories. They were originally recorded or first reported by a number of people over a period of 123 years – from 1788 to 1911. Because of this long history and the contexts of recording, I encountered several problems and issues in compiling the list of placenames; they concerned: ensuring the names had an Aboriginal origin, which involved identifying when and by whom they were first reported; identifying clearly an association between a placename and a specific location; and how the names should be written. However, before discussing these issues, the historical context in which the names were recorded is briefly outlined.