Groups of Koori people from outside Sydney are living in Sydney, from the Illawarra region, the Burragorang Valley and the Hunter River. The Illawarra people often camp at La Perouse, the others camp in the boat sheds at Circular Quay near the site of the Opera House. These people are drawn to the city because they are suffering increasing poverty and dislocation on their own lands. Their demands for land and boats attract as much attention as their drinking. Goodall, Invasion to Embassy, p 89.

  • Circular Quay Postcard


The missionary Matthews, with the approval of the NSW State Government, rounds up Koori people from La Perouse and Georges River and takes them to his mission station Maloga on the Murray River. Goodall and Cadzow, p. 113. The people include Ellen (Biddy Giles’s daughter). Eventually she returns with her family to live in Kangaroo Valley and by 1910 they are living near Botany. About this time they move upriver to camp and later buy land on the lower Salt Pan Creek where it flows into the Georges Creek. Goodall and Cadzow, Rivers and Resilience, 114 -115

The Botany Aboriginal camp is closed. Some of its residents take up an offer to relocate to Maloga with the missionary Matthews on the Murray River. Others went to La Perouse or to familiar places along the Georges River.


Thornton defends allowing the Aborigines camp to remain at Botany Bay and North Head. "I found some of them settled at La Perouse and [they] were anxious to remain there… the men are all young, strong, intelligent (some able to read and write), able and willing to work – they are nearly all half-castes with half-caste wives and a number of children."

Aboriginal men with their families living at La Perouse are William Foote, William Rowley, Charles Edwards, Joseph Dixon and George Timbery. Women living at La Perouse make shell baskets which they sell in the city.


Describing La Perouses' origins, a writer in the Sydney Morning Herald claims: “It has long been used as a halting place for Aborigines since Captain Cook’s time and probably before. But about 4 years ago [1879] George Timbery found the camp deserted and settled down there with his wife and family. He is joined by other families and now they form a little village. By this, it means the place seems to have become a permanent settlement."

Koori families recently unemployed in south coast farms make their way to La Perouse to be near the city. Among them is the Foote family, whose descendants include the Williams and Ingrey families.

The Aborigines Protection Board is established. The chairman, George Thornton, wants to clear some Sydney regions of Koori people, for instance, Circular Quay, but he believes that Aboriginal reserves should be established so that Koori people can form homesteads and grow crops. Goodall, Invasion to Embassy, p 89

William Rowley petitions the Aborigines Welfare Board to provide boats to the La Perouse community, though he continues to live near where he was born, the other side of the Bay, at Weeney Bay.

  • Tom Williams senior with his son Tom at Salt Pan Creek - 1923
  • Gillum Moore, Charlie Golden, Jane Timbery and local children

Another petitioner to the government is Jimmy Lowndes, born near Camden in the 1830s, but who has been living in and around Botany for several decades.


The phrases 'Black’s camp' or 'Aboriginal Quarters' begin to appear on maps of Botany Bay from 1884 onwards.

After the death of her husband Billy, Biddy Giles moves near toSylvania, where her brothers Joey and Jimmy Lowndes are living. They travel and stay for periods in many of the camps dotting both shores of the Georges River.


From this time, La Perouse begins to look a little different from other camps in the Sydney area. It is the camp closest to the city which the government will tolerate and so the small settlement becomes a relocation site for those expelled from other areas in the inner city and a stopping place for those who want to get into the city. Read, pp. 49-50.

  • Australian Aborigines Mission, La Perouse - 1890's


Koori people continue to use the old ‘foot-walk’ which travels along the river east-west, and south towards Wollongong and Five Islands.


A much larger portion of Botany Bay’s foreshore is formally reserved for the spot where Captain Cook landed in 1770, an area of approximately 75Ha.