Sydney Harbor – From Aboriginal Waterway to Picturesque Playground: A Three Part Course with Dr. Mark Dunn

Sydney Harbor – From Aboriginal Waterway to Picturesque Playground: A Three Part Course with Dr. Mark Dunn


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Sydney Harbor is arguably the most recognized urban waterway in the world. The fireworks that see in New Year are broadcast around the world, while the Sydney Opera House and Sydney Harbour Bridge are internationally famous. But the harbor is not just for postcards, it has a long history and a central palace in Aboriginal custom and lore, as well as over 240 years of life at the center of the city of Sydney. 

Led by an expert on Sydney, Dr. Mark Dunn, this course will introduce Sydney Harbor explore its creation, discuss the centrality of the harbor to the Aboriginal people who lived on its shores for thousands of generations, and explore the often turbulent history of colonization, industrialization, and renewal. Designed to inform curiosity as well as future travels, participants will come away with an increased understanding of what makes Sydney tick, how to navigate its harbor, and what to look out for above and below the water during their time down under.

Lecture One – The Aboriginal Harbor and a colonial waterway: 1788-1820
In this first session, we will explore the formation of the harbor and its centrality to the spiritual, traditional, and cultural life of the Aboriginal people who lived on its shores and fished in its waters. We will discuss the arrival of the British First Fleet in 1788 and the impact of this invasion on the people who had called Sydney home for millennia.

Lecture Two – Defending the Working Harbor: 1840-1945
In the second session, we will explore the industrialization of the harbor foreshore and the growing network of defensive forts and guns that were installed to defend it. From the mid-nineteenth century, the harbor played an increasingly important role in the commerce of the city, with imports and exports, factories and industry. Whaling fleets from America visited regularly, as did foreign warships, migrant arrivals, and nautical explorers. As a British empire outpost, a certain amount of paranoia drove a desire to defend the city from Americans to Russians and French. In the end, it was the Japanese in World War II who breached the defenses and carried out the only successful attack by foreign forces on Sydney.

Lecture Three – The Iconic Harbor and Modern Tourism
In this third session, we explore the reawakening of the harbor in the life of Sydney. In 1932 the harbor was graced by the opening of the Sydney Harbour Bridge. This iconic structure became an instantly recognizable symbol of Sydney. Forty years later it was joined by the Sydney Opera House, arguably the most recognizable cultural building in the world. With the closing of industry on its shorelines, the harbor has sprung back to life. Fish have returned, penguins swim in its waters, and whales stream past throughout the year. The harbor has become the focus of Sydney's own cultural reawakening and is now an internationally recognizable waterway and a must-visit Sydney destination. 

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Mark Dunn is a Sydney based historian with over 25 years experience in heritage, archaeology, walking tours, and historical research. He has recently published his first book The Convict Valley which explores convict and Aboriginal interactions in the Hunter Valley north of Sydney.

How does it work?
This is a three-part series held weekly and hosted on Zoom. Please check the schedule for the specific dates and times for each lecture.

When will I receive the Zoom link?
Your link to enter the Zoom room will be the same for all three sessions. It will be sent to the email address used to place your order 30 minutes prior to each lecture's start time.

Is there a reading list in advance?
Though the course is open to participants with no background on this topic, there are suggested readings for further investigation. These will be provided at the course's conclusion.

However, to begin, our expert does recommend:
  • Ian Hoskins, Sydney Harbour: A History, UNSW Press Sydney, 2009
  • Grace Karskens, The Colony, Allen & Unwin, Sydney, 2009
How long are the lectures?
Each lecture is 90 minutes long with time for Q&A.
How much is the course?
The course is $105 USD for three lectures.
Is a recording available?
Yes. All registered participants will be sent a recording link within 48 hours of each session's conclusion.

This conversation is suitable for all ages.

90 minutes, including a 30 minute Q&A.

Customer Reviews

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L
L.A. (Ojai, US)
Sydney Harbor

Very interesting!
I’m enjoying learning about the Aboriginal people.

Customer Reviews

Based on 1 review
100%
(1)
0%
(0)
0%
(0)
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L
L.A. (Ojai, US)
Sydney Harbor

Very interesting!
I’m enjoying learning about the Aboriginal people.