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badu ngura Trail

naggangbi, nguradha nhay ngadgayang njindigang. budjari

Welcome, take care of this place. Thank you.

Nestled in the middle of Centennial Parklands is one of the hidden gems of Sydney: the wetlands of Centennial Park. A place where clear, clean water bubbles up from the ground, supporting a community of plants and animals living in amazing abundance.

The wetlands are an important site for all Australians and give us the opportunity to learn more about the significance of this habitat and its connection to Aboriginal culture.
Follow the badu ngura trail – a series of 12 interpretive signs that inform visitors of the animals that call this area their home and their importance to the ancient and continuing First Nations culture.
La Perouse Dharawal man Ray Ingrey (Gujaga Foundation) says:
"In Dharawal culture, our spirit ancestors created our Country and the
various lifeforms within it. This gave way to our kinship, our social
structures and our lore. The Dreaming provides our people with a spiritual
reasoning for existence. It explains why things are the way they are and
how we connect with our family, the plants, the animals and significant
places within our Country."
The trail surrounds the wetlands of Centennial Park, the Lachlan Swamp. As part of the rejuvenation of the boardwalk through the swamp, the badu ngura trail was unveiled in 2022.

A collaboration between the La Perouse Aboriginal community and Centennial Park, the trail was named after the area it surrounds (badu ngura – area of freshwater) and shares First Nations knowledge about the local fauna.

Jordan Ardler, a Bidjigal woman and artist from La Perouse, created the concept and the drawings for the signs while Gujaga Foundation provided the cultural knowledge and Dharawal wording.

The knowledge shared on this trail has been approved by the First Nations community of La Perouse.

This arts and cultural installation connects contemporary park visitors to the story of the local Aboriginal Peoples and the strong connection they have to their lands and waters.
The various clan groups of coastal Sydney like the Gadigal, Birrabirragal, Bidiagal, Cobragal and Gweagal all spoke the overarching language belonging to their cultural area, Dharawal.

In the 1860s, Turuwul (now pronounced Dharawal) was described as the language of the now extinct tribe of Port Jackson and Botany Bay (by John Malone, a half caste, whose mother was of that tribe) and was the first known language name for the Greater Sydney area.

Dharawal is also the name for the Cabbage Tree Palm, the overarching spirit ancestor for people that speak the Dharawal language and belong to the Dharawal Nation.

La Perouse Dharawal man Ray Ingrey (Gujaga Foundation 2022) says:

“Our people identified themselves a number of ways according to their connection to their spirit ancestor, family, region they were born and lived in, the language they spoke and the status they held. In coastal Sydney you may hear Aboriginal words like ‘waragal garingal gweagal gadigal bidiagal gamayngal dharawal’ and ‘gadhungal’. These layers of identification linked our people on a personal, local and regional basis.”

  • Besold, Jutta 2021 'Language Recovery of the New South Wales South Coast Aboriginal Languages' A thesis submitted for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy of The Australian National University
  • Mackenzie, Andrew 1866 ‘Tales in Tharumba and Thurawal’ in Ridley Kamilaroi, Dippil, and Turrubul – languages spoken by the Australian Aborigines Sydney: Government Printer
  • Ridley, William, 2nd ed., Kamilaroi and other Australian Languages - with Comparative tables of words from twenty Australian languages, and, Songs, traditions, laws and customs of the Australian race. : Sydney : Thomas Richards, Govt. Printer, 1875
  • Dharawal Language and Culture App video, Gujaga Foundation website (25 May 2023)
  • This is Our Country video, National Musuem of Australia website (25 May 2023)
This information was provided by Gujaga Foundation.

Find out what Western science tells us about Centennial Park’s wetlands and its inhabitants here.

What makes the wetlands a special place?

This natural spring has been a resource for people and animals in the Sydney area for thousands of years and was an essential source of fresh drinking water for the establishing city. It exists because of the unique geology of this part of Sydney. Deep, sandy soil allows rain to penetrate easily, filling up the porous sandstone layers beneath and throughout the Botany Sands with water. Like a giant sponge, these rocks then release that water gradually. It bubbles to the surface where conditions allow and feeds the wetlands that still stretch from Centennial Parklands through suburbs like Eastlakes down to Botany Bay.
Lachlan Swamp sits on the headwaters of this system and stays wet throughout the most protracted droughts, supporting the swamp forest and marsh surrounding the spring. The green open spaces of Centennial Parklands are an essential part of the system, allowing rain to refresh and replenish the groundwater, like a green island in an urban area.

Swamp paperbarks

The swamp paperbarks are the dominant species in the swamp forest. They were deliberately planted in the late 1800s and replaced a lower and more open swampy heath environment. This species can easily handle waterlogged soils and has thrived, with generation after generation of new seedlings filling in gaps in the canopy as old trees die. Various other species have also colonised the area, including bats, wing ferns and soft bracken, palms and sedges, and paperbark figs, which have created a mid-storey that feels almost like a rainforest.

Animals in Centennial Park’s wetlands

The dense vegetation and moist microclimate make the wetlands an important haven for many species of animals, including insects, frogs and lizards, many species of birds both large and small, and even large mammals. For many of these species the swamp is a breeding refuge in the middle of a bustling city, where they can rest safe from disturbance.

Keep reading to learn more about our most important and interesting species, some of which are an active part of the ecosystem.