Governor Phillip Park, Palm Beach
Arthur Phillip achieved renown in his own life as a courageous seaman, dedicated officer, scholar and visionary colonial administrator.
Pittwater was the first place in Australia formally named by Governor Phillip, on 3 March 1788, in honour of William Pitt, then Prime Minister of England.
Phillip’s exploration party had gone “with a long-boat and cutter to examine the broken land mentioned by Captain Cook, about eight miles to the north-ward of Port Jackson.”
“We slept in the boat that night within a rocky point in the north-west part of the bay… and the next day…entered a very extensive branch, from which the ebb tide came out so strong that the boats could not row against it in the stream; and here was deep water.”
"Immediately round the headland that forms the southern entrance into the bay there is a branch, which I think the finest piece of water I ever saw, and which I honoured with the name of Pitt Water.”
It was while attempting to land at Broken Bay that Phillip and his crew were given assistance by two local Aboriginal people, “an old man and a youth.”
“They had seen us labour hard to get under the land, and after pointing out the deepest water for the boats”, the two local men brought the weary explorers fire and even showed the Englishmen a cave where they could shelter from a storm, recorded the Governor.
“When the old man saw us prepare for sleeping on the ground, and clearing away bushes, he assisted,” Phillip wrote.
Lieutenant William Bradley, who accompanied Phillip on the journey, noted they found local people “all the way up” Broken Bay.
The history of the Aboriginal people of the Northern Beaches, including the Garigal and Gayamaygal clans, stretches back much further than 1788 of course, their long story in Australia dating back tens-of-thousands of years.
If you love history and would like to learn more about Sydney’s Aboriginal people, come along to a special History Week author talk: The Aboriginal People of Coastal Sydney.