G'day from Down Under
Known for its exotic wildlife, miles of beaches, and iconic architecture, Australia’s largest city, Sydney, has a long and fascinating history.
Despite my extreme jetlag, I venture from my hotel room to explore the city. My first stop? The famous Sydney Harbor Bridge. Adventures seekers have the opportunity to climb the structure – so, I did! The climb is a bit spine-tingling and scary, but it provides a bird’s-eye view of the city and its harbor. From the summit, I imagine what first the European sailors to reach Sydney would have seen, and what the Aboriginal people must have thought as the tall ships approached.
It is estimated that the Aboriginal, or native, people have lived in Australia for somewhere between 30,000 and 60,000 years. We do know that the Gadigal tribe was living in Sydney for at least 8,000 years prior to the arrival of the Europeans.
The Sydney we know today was founded in 1788 as a penal colony for convicts. When the British settled here, they didn’t treat the Aboriginal people well. Like the Native Americans, the Aborigines suffered a similar fate that drastically reduced their population. Those who did not die from infectious disease were forced to abandon their culture and adapt to the ways of the newly established colony control by the British Empire.
Despite the poor treatment of the native people, Sydney continued to grew as more immigrants from Britain and Ireland moved to Australia over the next few centuries. Slowly, through more awareness and education, Australia began to confront its long and complicated history with the indigenous people. This process of reconciliation continues today.