View from the Government Domain, Sydney,                                                                                 Charles Rodius (1802-1860)
Pencil drawing, PXA 997f.2
Mitchell Library, Sydney

Keith Vincent Smith

Referring to the decade of the 1840s in Notes on the Aborigines of New South Wales (Sydney 1892, page 7), George Thornton wrote:

An old Sydney aborigine named “Krooi” had his camp at the point known as “Lady Macquarie’s Point,” the N.E. end of the present Botanical Gardens. He used to fish from a small detached rock a few feet distant from the N.E. part of the point. It was known as ”Krooi’s Rock.”

Thornton, sometime mayor of Sydney, was the first chairman of the Aborigines Protection Board.

The Indigenous fishermen at ‘Krooi’s Rock’ wear cut-off trousers, but still prefer to use their pronged fishing spears. I selected the image for the EORA: Mapping Aboriginal Sydney 1770-1850 exhibition which I curated with Anthony (Ace) Bourke at the State Library of new South Wales in 2006.

German-born Charles Rodius worked as a draughtsman and engraver in Paris before being sent to New South Wales for theft. He was assigned, without salary, to the Department of Public Works. Rodius frequented the nearby Domain, where he sketched many Aboriginal people.

Cruwee (Crewey), probably a Kameygal man, claimed to be at Kundal (Kurnell) when HM Bark Endeavour entered Botany Bay on 29 April 1770. He told Obed West: ‘they thought the vessels were floating islands’.

I have often conversed with Cruwee, who was an intelligent fellow … It was very amusing to hear him describe the first impression the blacks had of the vessels, and although very fearful, they were curious and would, with fear and trembling, get behind some tree and peep out at the monsters which had invaded their shores.  

West said Cruwee also pointed out the spot where the French priest  Father le Receveur, from the ill-fated La Perouse expedition, had been buried.

[Edward West Marriot (ed.), Memoirs of Obed West, Sydney, [1882] 1988, pages 42-43]

Judge Advocate David Collins, who recorded ‘Boo-roo-wang — An island’ in his ‘New South Wales’ Vocabulary, added in a footnote: ‘This word they applied to our ships’.

They often Come on board our ship, which they call an Island …
[David Blackburn to his sister Margaret Blackburn, 17 March 1791, Mitchell Library MS S 6937/1/1]

In late December 1808 ‘old Crewey’ threw the first spear in a revenge combat opposite the ‘new Military Barracks’ in George Street, Sydney. The shaft penetrated his opponents’s shield and his hand became ‘rivetted to it’ before ‘two gentlemen of the Faculty’ (probably doctors) relieved it.

Crewey was ‘dreadfully wounded’ when the same opponent then struck him in the head with a sharp, heavy waddy. Another man named Cudgear was struck to the ground by Punmaima and fled, leaving his wife behind.

The Australian, Sydney, announced the death of ‘Crui’ on 16 February 1826, page 4.

One of the oldest of the Aboriginal Natives named Crui lately died. This man is well known by the early settlers.

Copyright Keith Vincent Smith 2020