The Quadrant archaeological dig revealed a history at this place far longer than many people expected to find. In the south western corner of the site there was evidence of an Aboriginal encampment with 14 stone artifacts discovered at various depths indicating a long period of occupation. These tools and tool fragments were all found within a 5 square meter area which is consistent with a relatively permanent campsite.

The red layer is colored by brick dust and is from the 18th and 19th century European period. The brick dust inadvertently preserved the underlying dark brown layer with its Aboriginal artifacts.

The artifacts included rounded microliths of a type unknown in Australia before about 5,000 years ago. The tools also reveal a change in technology from silicates to harder quartz tools which is also an indication of occupation of the site over a long period of time.

Stone tools in the hand of Lyn Madden, a descendent of the Gadigal people who lived at the Quadrant site.
A rounded microlith and an illustration showing a typical use of these stone tools.
An Aboriginal Family in 1788 in Sydney. Attributed to Philip Gidley King.

This incredible social document reveals a lot about the daily life and culture of the people who lived at the Quadrant site. The father carries a shield and club. This indicates that life was very dangerous at the time with constant threat from other people. He also carries a multi-pronged harpoon. These harpoons were used by standing in shallow water, (perhaps in the tidal mudflats of Blackwattle Bay) and spearing fish in the shallow water. His wife has two fish tied with string, and a fishing line with hook, possibly made from bone. She has a backpack which likely carried cooking implements, food collection bags, and some food for the journey. The son is carrying several barbed spears and a bark wrapper containing smoldering fire embers. Thus fire was carried from place to place rather than having to go to the effort of starting fire from scratch every time. There is no sign of any clothing on anyone in the group which would have been very comfortable in a Sydney summer but much less so in the winters making the rapid building of a fire very important .

Left to right: Adam Madden, Lyn Madden, Allen Madden, Darren Duncan Madden, and Ray Davidson., are descendents of the original Gadigal people who inhabited the Quadrant site. They are standing in Wentworth Park which was originally part of the tidal mudflats of Blackwattle Creek as it entered Sydney harbour.