The first European settlers in Australia relied on Aboriginal knowledge for their survival at various times.
Lieutenant William Dawes, the First Fleet’s astronomer, was taught the language spoken in this region by Patyegarang, a young Gadigal woman, in return for lessons in reading and speaking English. Patyegarang proved vital to Dawes’ understanding and documentation of the language, while their conversations, recorded by Dawes in notebooks which still survive today, reveal insights into early relations between the Gadigal and English settlers. For example, Patyegarang communicated to Dawes that her people were angry to have the colonists on their land, and also afraid of their guns and weaponry.
[Dawes] told [Patyegarang] that a white man had been wounded some days ago when coming from Kadi to Warang and asked her why the black men did it. [She said,]‘Because they are angry’. ‘Why are they angry?’ [I said.] ‘Because the white men are settled here’ [she replied.]