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Welcome to The Big Bus tour and travel guide. In this segment we take a look around Sydney’s new recreational precinct on the Sydney Harbour foreshore. The Barangaroo Reserve is one of three stages that make up the Barangaroo redevelopment.
‘Everything that has been will be, everything that will be is, everything that will be has been’, the renowned European playwright Eugène Ionesco once said.
Despite the different geographies and generations, Ionesco could well have been referring to Sydney’s Barangaroo – the inner-city redevelopment located on the harbour foreshore (just south-west of the iconic Sydney Harbour Bridge), which has gone from Aboriginal pre-settlement homeland, to shipping port, industrial wasteland, and now a multi-billion dollar urban regeneration project and park with a strong Indigenous link.
Barangaroo was originally the land of the Gadigal people – the traditional custodians of the territory in and around the Sydney CBD, and one of the 29 clan groups of the Eora nation. The Gadigal people predominantly used the area for hunting and fishing. Local rock carvings suggest an Indigenous presence here dating back more than 6,000 years.
The redevelopment is named after Cammeraygal (another of the Eora clans) woman Barangaroo, who was reputed to be a strong and fierce leader of her people in the late 1700s. Barangaroo herself was married to another prominent Indigenous figure – Bennelong – and both played pivotal roles during the early days of European settlement.
Today the 22-hectare area is divided into three zones, the northern-most of which is Barangaroo Reserve – an impressive headland park providing panoramic views of the harbour and surrounding suburbs. One of the top things to do at Barangaroo Reserve is the guided Aboriginal cultural tour. Participants learn about the cultural significance of the site, how to make traditional fish hooks, and how various native plants were used in daily life. It’s a fascinating insight into how Aboriginal people lived in the past, and still do in many parts of the country.
Other top things to do at Barangaroo Reserve include the Wulugul Walk along the harbour foreshore and exhibitions of public art and sculpture. Check online for details of upcoming performances at the amphitheatre – constructed from 6,500 sandstone blocks. Visitors can relax on Stargazer Lawn surrounded by plantings of 74,000 native shrubs and trees, designed to replicate the landscape as it was at the time of settlement. There are plenty of picnic areas to enjoy.
South of the Reserve you’ll find the Barangaroo Central and South precincts, which feature cafes and eateries, shopping options and a casino (scheduled to open in 2020).
All in all, Barangaroo Reserve is a stunning new asset for the city of Sydney, and one that rightfully celebrates its Indigenous heritage. To paraphrase a certain playwright: everything old is new again.
Do you have any tips for top things to do at Barangaroo Reserve? We would love to hear from you. Please leave a comment below.
Additional images: Bigstock
About the writer
Cindy Bingley-Pullin considers herself a writer, wanderluster, corporate bee and happy homemaker. In between analysing spreadsheets in the office and washing cot sheets at home, she pursues her combined passions of travel and freelance writing. Her work appears in publications such as Virgin Australia’s Voyeur, International Traveller and Fitness First magazines, and the Sydney Morning Herald. To date, her travels have taken her everywhere from the ancient Angkor Wat temples at dawn to the soaring skyscrapers of NYC at dusk, and from sleeping under the stars in central-west NSW to dining at Michelin-starred restaurants in the south of France. She has volunteered at an orphanage in India, bathed elephants in the river in remote northern Thailand, waved glow sticks at an underground rave in San Francisco and cautiously navigated an active volcano in Hawaii. The first thing she does when she comes home to Sydney is pop by her local cafe for a decent flat white.