The first people to inhabit the area now known as Sydney were indigenous Australians who had migrated from northern Australia and before that from southeast Asia. While radiocarbon dating has shown evidence of human activity in the Sydney area from around 30,000 years ago, Aboriginal stone tools found in Western Sydney’s gravel sediments indicate there was human settlement in the region from as far back as 45,000 to 50,000 years BP.
The first meeting between the native people and the British occurred on 29 April 1770 when Lieutenant James Cook landed at Botany Bay on the Kurnell Peninsula and encountered the Gweagal clan. He noted in his journal that they were confused and somewhat hostile towards the foreign visitors. Cook was on a mission of exploration and was not commissioned to start a settlement. He spent a short time collecting food and conducting scientific observations before continuing further north along the east coast of Australia and claiming the new land he had discovered for Britain. Prior to the arrival of the British, there were 4,000 to 8,000 native people in Sydney from as many as 29 different clans.