The British arrive at Broken Bay
At the time of Cook's 1770 voyage past Barrenjoey and Box Head, which mark the opening to Broken Bay and the Hawkesbury River, the people of Pearl Beach and Patonga were probably repeating customs and living strategies they had learned over the past tens of thousands of years.
The Garigal clan would have been engaged with their traditional life when they witnessed the strangeness of the Endeavour as it sailed north with Lieut James Cook at the helm.
In the early winter of May 1770, as the ghostly ship the Endeavour floated northwards from Botany Bay past Barrenjoey and the opening to the Hawkesbury River, Lieutenant Cook (he became Captain later) noted many fires in the Broken Bay area.
He assumed the native inhabitants were communicating his presence to each other along the coast.
One can imagine a group of hunting Garigal men with their spears at the ready, briefly abandoning the hunt to fire off a message to communicate the presence of the apparition to the next clan further up the coast.
Here, along with the near-by shell fish gathering womenfolk and children, they may have been transfixed by the spectre of the Endeavour as it silently slid into and out of sight across the opening to Broken Bay.
We know that the Garigal clan quickly knew of the British arrival at Port Jackson (Sydney) on January 26, 1788, because when Captain Phillip and his two exploratory boats with 40 men visited Pearl Beach on the north west rim of Broken Bay five weeks later, some of the Garigal people had items, trinkets that had been handed to Aboriginal people by the British at Port Jackson.
On March 2, Captain Phillip and 40 men visited Broken Bay to investigate what Cook had noted 18 years earlier, a large open bay that appeared to be a good harbor.
Located just opposite the Pearl Beach cafe, there is a brass plaque mounted on a large stone, which commemorates the moment when Captain Phillip's party visited the area
In a letter to Lord Sydney dated May 15, 1788, Captain Phillip gave this account of his stay overnight at the southern end of Pearl Beach and his subsequent crossing of the bar at Ettalong, his struggle with the tide where now stands the Rip Bridge and his entry into Brisbane Water.
"We slept in the boat that night within a rocky point in the north west of the bay (which is very extensive as the natives, tho friendly, appeared to be numerous, and the next day after passing a bar that had only water for small vessels, entered a very extensive branch, from which the ebb tide came out so strong that the boats could not row against it in the stream, and here was deep water."
The exploration of Brisbane Water was recorded in greater detail in the book These Are My People - This is My Land.
"At daybreak the next morning the part of two boats and 40 men negotiated the narrow entrance into Brisbane Water at Half Tide Rocks and them almost immediately drew up on a beach, either Ettalong Beach on the west shore or Pretty Beach to the east.
They found several flimsy built bark huts with lobster carapaces lying about, and inside were several Aboriginal women, young and old.
The women were terrified at first but after presents were offered soon became more composed and friendly.
"The party continued up Brisbane Water and after passing two other coves, presumably Hardys Bay and Fisherman's Bay they came to The Rip.
"The tide was on the ebb and was running so strongly that they could not row against the current.
"While waiting for the tide to turn, they landed in an adjacent cove, either Fisherman's Bay east of the Rip or Booker Bay to the west, and were met by several Aboriginal men and women who moved freely amongst the visitors.
"They noticed that all the women had lost two terminal joints of the little finger of the left hand.
"This was no so prevalent around Port Jackson.
"Most of the women, like the men, also had a hole bored through the nasal septum.
"It was at this stop that they met a lively young Aboriginal woman who was very talkative and remarkably cheerful.
"She subsequently fell in love with Governor Phillip's greatcoat and used all conceivable means in her attempts to wheedle it from him.
"It was here too that Governor Phillip saw a large fish being landed.
"Because the fish was too strong and heavy to haul into the frail canoe on a fibre line, the Aborigines paddled their craft towards shallower water, gently drawing the fish to the edge of the bay where a waiting man despatched it with a spear.
"When the tide slackened, the exploring party pulled through the Rip beyond which they found several inlets between banks of sand, mangroves and mud.
"They stopped on one of the islands, probably St Hubert's island and pitched their tents in hard rain.
"The following day while the tents and clothing were drying, some Aborigines paddled across from the opposite shore but were "easily kept a proper distance from the clothes".
"One of the visitors was the lively young lady they had met the previous day and, on approaching the party, she stood up in her canoe and 'gave a song which was far from unpleasing'.
"At daylight the following day the party investigated further up Brisbane Water.
"They saw Aboriginal people all the way."
Following the day's exploration of Brisbane Water, it appeared that Phillip spent the night on the north eastern shore of Broken Bay, probably Lobster Beach.
Like the Garigal men who had a front tooth removed in initiation-to-manhood ceremonies, Captain Phillip also had a front tooth missing.
FC Bennett, the editor of The Story of the Aboriginal People of the Central Coast, adds colour not included in Phillip's official letter to Lord Sydney.
Bennett records: "Contact was made with the natives and very friendly relations were established.
"Camp fire parties and sing songs were held on each side of the northern arm of Broken Bay".
Book, December 2016
The Garigal Clan of Pearl Beach and Patonga