Barangaroo Reserve

Barangaroo Aboriginal Cultural Tour

One of the best cultural tours I have taken in Sydney is the Barangaroo Aboriginal cultural tour. The tour focuses on the aboriginal culture and takes the visitors through the Barangaroo reserve talking about various plants and how they are used in the aboriginal society. The guide also provides the history of Barangaroo.

PIN for later reference

Barangaroo Cultural Tour
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What is Barangaroo Aboriginal Cultural Tour?

The Barangaroo Aboriginal cultural tour is a tour that is led by Aboriginal guides. The duration of the tour is 1 hour and 30 minutes where the guide takes the visitors to different parts of the Barangaroo Reserve and takes about the Aboriginal history and the culture. They mainly focus on how the native plants are used and their benefits. Also, talking about the elders of different tribes.

My guide Tim Gray was brilliant and he had a lot of in-depth knowledge.

How to get to the starting point?

The meeting point is on Munn Street Reserve entrance. Usually, people mistake it to be a level lower and wait for the guide.

Ensure to check on the Google Maps or approach one of the friendly staff at Barangaroo and they will help you out.

Barangaroo Cultural Tour
Munn Street Reserve entrance

Public transportation

The closest train station to Barangaroo Reserve is Wynyard train station, one of the main train stations of Sydney. There are frequent trains that connect between the train stations in the Sydney Central Business District. And most trains that connect to different parts of Sydney stop at Wynyard train station.

  • Up-to-date information can be found on the Transport for New South Wales (NSW) website.
  • Opal transportation cards or credit/ debit cards can be used to pay the fares.
  • Do not forget to Tap on and off while entering and exiting from the train stations.

One can also walk from Darling Harbour to Barangaroo Reserve. It is an easy walk with beautiful views of the harbour.

Driving

The distance between Sydney CBD and Barangaroo Reserve is only 1.5 kilometres and takes just 5 minutes of drive. There are multiple level of car parks at Barangaroo Reserve.

Booking and Cost

The booking is very easy and can be done on the Barangaroo official website. There are two tours that happen everyday, one at 10:30 in the morning and the other at 1:30 in the afternoon. The ticket costs AUD 36.30 per adult for the 90 minutes tour.

  • Note: Children (17 years and under), Seniors and concession card holders get discounts on the tickets.

My review

As I mentioned at the beginning of my post, the Barangaroo cultural tour is one of the best tours I have taken in Sydney. The guide Tim was extremely knowledgeable and the whole experience was awesome. We went through different parts of the reserve listening to the stories and history. What made the tour best was the entire group was engaged and spoke about their experiences/ knowledge as well. I would definitely recommend taking this tour.

Barangaroo Cultural Tour
Tim Gray, my guide

Who was Barangaroo?

Barangaroo Reserve is named after a powerful leader called Barangaroo. She was of significance influence during the European colonisation era. Being from the Cammeraygal clan, she lived around the north harbour. She was strong, wise and very influencial.

The Cammeraygal clan were a clan of the Eora tribe of Indigenous Australians. They were united by common language and were inhabited in the Lower North Shore of Sydney.

The story of Barangaroo is quite sad. Her first husband died of small pox. She was later then married to Benelong, a Wangal man. She wanted to give birth to Benelong’s child as per their traditions and refused to go to the hospital. Unfortunately, she died shortly after giving birth.

The Wangal people were also a clan of the Eora tribe of Indigenous Australians. The Wangal people were among the first to encounter British settlers.

Even though she had a short life, she made a huge impact in the history of Sydney. Barangaroo was known as a fiercely independent women.

Did you know that Benelong point (Circular Quay, named after Benelong) is right next to Barangaroo? The government wanted the husband and wife to be next to each other. How beautiful is that?

More information about Barangaroo can be found on Barangaroo Reserve official website.

Plants and their benefits

Would you believe I had never taken any interest in plants until this tour? The tour was so interesting that I started to learn so much about the native plants of Australia.

Lomandra

Lomandras are one of the native and most popular plants in Australia. It is identified by its spiky long and flat green leaves. There are number of ways the aboriginal tribes make use of these plants, some of them to list are:

  • Weaving – The leaves are dried and are used for weaving ropes.
  • Seeds – The plant is edible and the seeds are crushed and are used to make breads.

The plant because of its spiky leaves is supposedly very famous among the snakes as it is the best place for snakes to lay their eggs without the fear of predators, especially birds.

Old man Banksia

Banksia is a popular Australian plant. They are known for their flower spikes, cones and heads. They are slow growing but long lived plants and can grow somewhere between 30 to 60 feet. The story of Old man Banksia was the most amazing and interesting one. Supposedly, there are hairy creatures called Yowies in the wild (in Australia) that resemble these Banksias. One type are the short ones and the other ones are taller ones. I believe the truck drivers and a few of the people who live in the Outback of Australia have spotted these creatures.

I believe there are more than 173 species of Banksia.

Barangaroo Cultural Tour

Native hibiscus

The most pretty of all the plants was the native hibiscus as it had some flowers that were blooming. The hibiscus flowers are yellow and orange. The bark is so strong that it is used as a tool for fishing among the aboriginal tribes. Usually, fishing is done by the women. The barks and branches are also used to cause friction fires.

Out of the 250 species of hibiscus, 35 are native to Australia.

Barangaroo Cultural Tour

Wattle seed plant

There are many species of Wattle seeds in Australia. They are the fast growing plants where the seeds are edible. The leaves with water are used to catch fish. The lather produced by the leaves when mixed with water paralyses the fishes for a few seconds and this was a fishing technique used by the aboriginals.

Barangaroo Cultural Tour

Pig Face plant

The pig face plant is a ground creeping plant with succulent leaves. The plant has large daisy like flowers and is an edible bush plant. Aussies use the stem in their salads but the stems have to be boiled or cooked. I tasted the stem raw and was extremely bitter.

And many more

There are 75,000 species of plans and trees in Barangaroo. If you are a botany lover, then it is best to visit the Barangaroo reserve and spend some time observing and looking at the plants.

Barangaroo Cultural Tour

Other things to see in the reserve

Did you know that aboriginals used the crushed shell fish bones as a masonry between the sandstone bricks?

Bee nests

The native bee colonies have been introduced at the Barangaroo Reserve. Bees are great for pollination of native plants. The sandstone in the below picture has one of the nests and the second nest is at the box just behind the sandstone.

The native bees are known as “Tetragonula Carbonaria”.

Barangaroo Cultural Tour

Cutaway

The Cutaway is a unique cultural space created beneath the headland. The sandstone was extracted from the Cutaway so they could be used in the reserve and were extracted using the traditional stonemason techniques.

Heritage toilet

The heritage listed toilet was used as a pump station before at Barangaroo. Something to look out as there are a very few times a person can see a heritage listed toilet. One can also use the toilet facility if required during the tour.

Barangaroo Cultural Tour

Munn’s slipway

Munn’s slipway is a historical landmark in Barangaroo Reserve. It includes a sandstone from the 1820s. The Munn’s slipway was included into the new shoreline of the reserve so it does not lose its historical significance. At the beginning of the project, archaeologists found the remains of a slipway during the excavations.

Sandstone

The sandstone that are used in the reserve are taken from the sandstone extracted from the Cutaway in the Barangaroo itself. The extraction process took about a year and every grain of the sandstone extracted was used in the reserve. A custom made 12D computer was used and the sandstone were slotted like a jig saw puzzle in advance before they were laid out in the reserve.

There are 10,000 of these sandstone blocks in Barangaroo Reserve.

Barangaroo Reserve

View of Sydney Harbour bridge

One of the best views of the Sydney Harbour Bridge was at the Barangaroo Reserve. The view point provides a panoramic view of the Sydney north across the bridge as well.

Barangaroo Cultural Tour

Wellama installation

At the entrance of the Cutaway, there is a visual art installation called Wellama. It is a 10 minutes video recording and the art work is by Alison Page and Nik Lachajczak. Wellima means “to come back” and the art installation is a greeting that the First Peoples extend to visitors who in turn respect the traditional culture of the country.

Barangaroo Cultural Tour

Closing Notes

I definitely recommend doing this tour as it provides a great insight into the Aboriginal culture. I loved it and I am sure any one who enjoys the cultural tours will love it.

PIN for later reference

Barangaroo Cultural Tour

21 comments

  1. Comment from Uma:
    The barangaroo story and the hike amongst the native plants…are well described….👏👍

  2. Love that they still keep this area reserved yet open for learning. Learning the depths of the Aboriginal culture must have been such a cool experience. I am a big fan of Aboriginal art, so I would love one day to visit this cultural tour! Thanks for sharing.

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  4. Another place I never heard of but would love to check out. I thought Barangaroo was a funny name at first but I am glad you actually explained what Barangaroo was/what. People always say there is a reason why a place or a person is named liked that, espeically unusual names. I cant believe there is over 75000 spieces of plants and trees there, I would have thought in this environment it would be a lot less but I am proven wrong. Really could see my children coming here when they are a bit older for an educational visit when we eventually return to Australia.

  5. What an educational tour. The banksia are really interesting plants, I love the hairy stalk and can’t imagine seeing one 60 feet tall. I didn’t know hibiscus bark was used for fishing. I would be curious to eat the wattle seed. The view of Sydney and the bridge from the reserve is incredible.

  6. So good to take a tour of the Barangaroo reserver and learn more about the aboriginal history and culture. And to learn about the strong woman who made such an impact on the history of Sydney. It is always fascinating to learn more about the local plants and what they are used for. Some great options for non-traditional remedies.

  7. This was very educational! I haven’t been to Australia yet so this was all new to me. Barangaroo story was like you said, very sad one. It would be very interesting to visit the reserve. I also love all those amazing plants. Especially Banksia. It reminds me of a bottle brush tree here in California but this seems to have a bigger flower. Very beautiful!

  8. I know I would be really interested to take this tour if/when I visit Sydney. Nicely detailed post. Quite insightful and Informative. 75000 species. Wow! That’s a lot!

  9. The Banksia is definitely intrigued me with its shape, followed by the story of a creature somewhat resembles the plant. That’s spooky! I like the easy access to this reserve and how you can learn about culture and native plants at the same time. It’s ashamed that Barangaroo had a short life.

  10. I usually love cultural tours in a destination. There are so many things to know about a place and its people apart from its natural beauty, isn’t it? It was great to know about an inspiring person like Barangaroo. I am sure she had a great life, even if it was short. The Reserve has some unique flora. The Heritage Toilet sounds interesting. Not everyday one gets to use the facilities of a heritage toilet!

  11. I was at awe reading about the history of Barangaroo Reserve, especially the history of Barangaroo and Wangal clan. Great that Benelong is next to it. The native plant species are also so useful, I am wondering how they maintained the site so nicely.

  12. Raksha this is an awesome experience, i have always read about aboriginals but this is such an indepth tour. It reminds me of the many indigenous tribe of India, they also plant many exotic plants and herbs. More is needed to be done to protect these tribes be it in any country.

  13. We would love to experience this fantastic area of Sydney. Your photographs depict it well. Thanks for a great post.

  14. The best part about your post is the i depth information about the flora and fauna found in Barangaroo reserve. Everything is so detailed that if anyone wants to explore the reserve than they need not to google any other information outside this post.

  15. This is an amazing experience, they provide a tour with educational experience. Loved the possibilities of learning and growth.

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