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Auburn History

HISTORY OF AUBURN

For more information about the history of the Auburn area, you are welcome to explore the Auburn Local Studies Collection, located on the first floor of Auburn Library.

Traditional owners

The Auburn area was once used by Aboriginal people as a market place for the exchange of goods, a site for ritual battles and a 'Law Place' for ceremonies. The area was located on the border between the Darug inland group and the Eora/Dharawal coastal group. The Wangal and Wategoro, sub-groups or clans, are the groups most often recognised as the original inhabitants of the Auburn/Homebush Bay region.

Bennelong, one of the most famous Aboriginies of the time, was a member of Wangal, as was his wife, Barangaroo. Pemulwuy, who organised tribes to resist the white settlement of the Sydney region from 1790 to 1802 was also a member of the Wangal.

Visitors to Auburn can still see evidence of Aboriginal settlement in the conservation area of Millennium Park where there are four scar trees.

Settlement

On 5 February 1788, soon after the landing of Captain Phillip at Sydney Cove, Captain John Hunter and Lieutenant William Bradley sailed up what is now known as the Parramatta River, as far as Homebush Bay. Captain Hunter was the first white person to set foot within the Auburn Local Government Area.

Ten days later, the Governor, along with a well-armed party in three boats, reached Homebush Bay. They ventured about 3 kilometres inland. The following day a party of explorers traced the river in a westerly direction, coming to the place where the Duck River enters the Parramatta River. They explored the tributary as far as the depth of water permitted.

Seeing what appeared to be ducks rising out of a swamp covered with reeds, they named the river Duck River. The ducks were actually Eastern Swamp Hens, but the name Duck River remained. The Eastern Swamp Hen featured prominently on the Council's Coat of Arms and it is now part of the Auburn City Council logo.

The naming of Auburn

Land grants in the area were made as early as 1806, to Thomas Bates, Thomas Francis and Samuel Haslam. The name Auburn adopted in 1876 and appears to be inspired by Oliver Goldsmith's poem The Deserted Village. The poem describes the English village of Auburn as "the loveliest village of the plain". 

The Auburn Local Government Area as we know it today was formed in 1948, when Auburn and Lidcombe Councils merged into Auburn Municipal Council. The boundaries of this municipality were much as they are today.

Auburn today 

Auburn today is the most eastern local government area in Western Sydney. The area includes the extensive industrial lands that were converted in the late 1990s into Sydney Olympic Park.

It is divided north/south by the M4, the Parramatta Road and the Western train line, and east/west by Route 45 (Silverwater Road, St Hilliers Road, Olympic Drive) and the railway through Regents Park.

The local government area is bounded by the Duck River on the west, and the boundaries of Rookwood Cemetery and Homebush Bay on the east.

Today, the Auburn area is one of the most culturally diverse areas in Sydney. 53% of residents are overseas-born and come from widely differing ethnic, cultural and social backgrounds. 50% of residents speak a language other than English at home and enjoy diverse ways of living through their different customs, languages and traditions.