8. Kameraygal


Northern Shores


The Kameraygal lived on the north side of Port Jackson on places from Cammeray to Manly in Sydney. The boundaries of Kameraygal are not exactly known, but like other Aboriginal communities, they moved around a central region with known borders.

Governor Phillip described the Kameraygal men as “manly” in their appearance and named Manly after them. The Kameraygals are also reported to have had connections with the Bidjigal people, and they were known to be enemies of the Cadigal group who lived on what is now the city of Sydney. It was on their land that Arthur Phillip was speared at the whale feast.

“The waterways of Kameraygal – my Dreaming Place eternally”

Sacred Places, Special Ways


For the people of the coast, the waterways were a special part of their spiritual life as well as their day to day living. Dreaming Places are common to Aboriginal peoples across Australia. The song represents the spiritual connection between the place and the people.

One European observer noted that the people at Port Jackson sang all day long…

  • Women sang while fishing and kept time with a song while paddling.
  • On seeing a school of dolphins, people chanted a short repetitive song which changed words whenever the dolphin dived.
  • A similar song was sung when a pelican flew overhead.
  • There were also songs, usually performed by women, for the sick and the dying.


“…The women with their hand lines either fished from rocks, or more usually, from the bark canoes which they manoeuvred with great dexterity. Young children accompanied the women while fishing.  It was common practice to have a small fire burning in the centre of the canoe, laid on seaweed, sand or a tablet of clay, so that fish could be cooked and eaten straight from the water. The women usually sang while fishing, some of the ditties being designed to persuade the fish to take their baited hooks”

(Collins 1798)






The waterways of Kameray-gal      

Come fishes swim beneath my feet

Come swim into this place for you

And we will take you home


Oh Kameray – Oh Kameray-gal

Oh Kameray – Oh Kameray-gal

Oh Kameray – Oh Kameray-gal

Not far away  – from the sea

Sacred places – Kameraygal   

The spirit of Biami here

You feed my life – You feed our people

My Dreaming Place eternally

The waterways of Kameraygal

A finer place there could not be

The Rainbow Snake beneath the surface

Brings in the creatures from the sea