Today, little do many realise the invaluable assistance that the Indigenous people provided to the fledgling European colony in its early days. Bungoree, of Guringai Nation, was an elder of the saltwater people who lived around Broken Bay. He and his people were excellent navigators of the coastal waterways, so it seemed only natural that their skills and expertise would be of great help in the development of the colony. Realising the value of his knowledge, Bungoree was involved with many ‘voyages of discovery’ including to the Hunter River and Norfolk Island, and perhaps most famously he became the first Australian to circumnavigate his own country when he assisted Matthew Flinders in the expedition of 1802-3.
On a more local level, Bungoree and his people established and traded along a network of well established trackways, which today form a significant part of our current transport network – and included amongst these is the Great Northern Railway. Today, not only does the Hawkesbury River (Deerubbun) Express provide a regular tourist operation to Broken Bay, but also enables some of Bungoree’s direct descendants the opportunity to maintain their connection to the country and share their culture with the national and international visitors. In this way, we are ‘Maroon Oomooliyan Goori Wahroong’ (still caring for our country).