Dawes Point Shirley Fitzgerald

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Shirley Fitzgerald
Dawes PointDawes Point
The promontory at the western end of Circular Quay was known to the Aboriginal people as Tar-Ra. It was chosen as the site for an observatory by Lieutenant William Dawes, who arrived with the first Europeans. Dawes came with a recommendation from the Astronomer Royal, Dr Nevil Maskelyne, and some instruments from the Board of Longitude, with which to study the heavens. The point was initially named Maskelyne Point, but as Dawes lived there while he was in the colony from 1788 until 1791, the area became known as Dawes Point.Dawes kept the colony's first meteorological records here, and it was also here that Dawes pinned the town's first clock to a rock face. He encouraged friendship with local Aboriginal people, including a young girl Pategarang, from whom he learned some of the language of the Cadigal people. Dawes's notebooks, held in the School of Oriental and African Studies at the University of London, remain one of the most precious records of the local language.
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