Woolloomooloo is the name given to the valley located immediately east of the original settlement of Sydney Town. Variant spellings of its Aboriginal place name included Waalamool, Walla Mulla, Walla-mool and Wallamoula.
In 1793, Commissary General John Palmer was granted 100 acres at Woolloomooloo. Palmer’s landholding extended from Woolloomooloo Bay to Oxford Street, taking in today’s suburbs of East Sydney and Darlinghurst. He built ‘Woollamoola House’ alongside Yurong Creek at the headwaters of the bay and successfully cultivated fruit trees and tobacco on his land.
The place Palmer chose to build his house on was used as a hunting ground and gathering place for Aboriginal people. It is thought to be an important Aboriginal ceremonial ground. Palmer’s estate at Woolloomooloo Bay was reportedly the location of a corroboree in November 1831 attended by Bungaree’s son, Young Bungaree. The scene was described by the Sydney Herald:
A “corrobbora” of the aborigines took place at Wooloomoolloo on Monday night.Young Bungaree did the honors of the ceremonies. Before the party broke up, his sable Majesty became done up with bull; and in consequence of some pranks played by him he was floored by a waddie, on which a regular melee ensued, the company espousing different sides of the question ; and after a hard fought battle they parted good friends, some of their cobberas having sustained considerable damage.
Although it became a centre of fashionable entertaining for the elite of the Sydney community, local Gadigal people continued to congregate at Woolloomooloo and at The Domain nearby until the late 19th century.
Shirley Fitzgerald, ‘Woolloomooloo‘, Dictionary of Sydney, 2008.
Keith Vincent Smith, King Bungaree: A Sydney Aborigine meets the great South Pacific explorers, 1799-1830 (Kenthurst, NSW: Kangaroo Press, 1992).
‘Domestic Intelligence‘, 14 November 1831, The Sydney Herald, p. 4.