ABOUT SYDNEY HARBOUR & BOTANY BAY
During the last Ice Age (18,000 years ago – 11,700 years ago) huge ice sheets locked up vast quantities of the Earth's water, making the coastline of every continent, including Australia, significantly different than it is today. It caused a huge drop in sea levels and Sydney’s coastline was some 120 metres lower and started 20km further out to sea at the Continental Shelf. Due to this Sydney Harbour became a steep gorge, surrounded by high cliffs that had been carved out by a glacier from a previous Ice Age. Botany Bay was also a very different landscape, it was swampy, full of billabongs and creeks with low lying sand dunes and steep sandstone crags.
As the Earth warmed, the ice melted and the sea rose in fits and starts, at times a few metres a century, at other times by only a few millimetres. Approximately, 7,000 thousand years ago sea levels were at what we know today.
At the end of this recent Ice Age Sydney Harbour had become a flooded river valley, the steep surrounding cliffs and deep gorge filling with sea water and becoming a perfect natural harbour. Fresh water fed the harbour via the Parramatta and Lane Cove Rivers and Middle Harbour Creek.
Botany Bay became a large coastal lagoon, fed by both the Georges and Cooks Rivers, the fresh water flowed into the ocean from an area near to modern day Cronulla beach but when the sea levels rose, the sand dunes that closed the two headlands were opened.
The Dharawal people of the Yuin Nation inhabited a vast section of the east coast from Port Jackson (Sydney Harbour) to Merimbula, some 355 kilometres to the south, all the way to the Great Dividing Range in the west for thousands of years. These regional nomadic people traded and intermarried amongst themselves, following the migration of game and their trade routes.
This free but isolated existence continued for hundreds of generations but then something happened that would change the world these people knew forever.
Europeans arrived in their floating villages bringing with them their guns, germs and steel.
The famous explorer Captain James Cook arrived in 1770 to find a massive land mass filled with precious forests, minerals and fertile farming land.
It was a place ripe for the picking and life would never be the same for the First Australians.