Colebee is a suburb of Sydney located 47 kilometres west of the Sydney central business district, in the local government area of the City of Blacktown.
Colebee was named after C. Colobee who is believed to have been the first indigenous Australian to have been granted land in the Blacktown area, at Plumpton Ridge.
Colebee, also known as Colebe, was one of two Aboriginals through whom Governor Arthur Phillip established peaceful relations with the tribesmen of Port Jackson and Botany Bay. He and Bennelong were captured at Manly Cove in 1789, after the arrival of the First Fleet in 1788, on the orders of Governor Phillip so that their language and customs could be learned. The other indigenous Australian who was captured was Bennelong, after whom Bennelong Point is named. Bennelong deferred to Colebee, who was senior.
Colebee, contemporary sketch.
His face was marred by small pox scars.
In 1790 Colebee and Bennelong concluded a peace agreement and received a metal hatchet.
Colebee is said to have often taken part in ritual revenge battles, in which he wounded many and killed several rivals. There are no written references to him between 1793 and January 1805, but in July 1805, Colebee and Bennelong, who were usually allies, fought a duel over Bennelong's wife Kurubarabulu.
Colebee probably died in a payback battle in 1806 or not long after, but his death was not officially recorded and he was not heard of again after 1806.
Another Colebee was a guide who assisted William Cox when he surveyed the road across the Blue Mountains. This Colebee, along with Nurragingy, tried to bring about a peaceful resolution to the years of conflict between white settlers and local Aboriginal people along the Hawkesbury, Nepean and Colo rivers, and in the South Creek area.
For this, Colebee and Narragingy received the first grant of land made by the British to an Aboriginal person. Governor Macquarie wrote in his diary on 25 May 1816:
On this occasion I invested Nurragingy, alias Creek Jemmy with my Order of Merit by presenting him with a handsome Brass Gorset or Breast Plate, having his name inscribed thereon in full – as chief of the South Creek Tribe. I also promised him and his friend Colebee a grant of 30 acres of land on the South Creek between them as an additional reward for their fidelity to Government and their recent good conduct.
This area became Blacktown in later years. In the 1820’s it was known as ‘The Blacks Town’, because it was home to a school for Aboriginal children, dubbed The Black Town Native Institute. Calls to change the name because of association with a racist past have been opposed by both residents and indigenous Australians. In 2016 Blacktown Council surveyed 3,133 residents, with over 80 percent voting against the changes. The survey cost the council $98,000.00.
(I grew up in Blacktown when it was nearly all bush. We fished and swam in the creeks and played in the bush. Those were the days, my friend . . . ).
Even though I grew up in Blacktown and lived there for 20 years until I left home (my parents living there for many, many years after), I have never heard of Colebee as a suburb before this post.
Apparently it is a brand new suburb, developed to allow more home sites to be created.
By the way:
The Nurragingy Nature Reserve is an Australian open urban park and forest, nature reserve and garden, it is a protected area owned by Western Sydney Parklands Trust and operated by Blacktown City Council that opened in 1981. The Nature Reserve is a site of state heritage significance because of its combination of historical, social and cultural values. The site was the first land grant ever given to Aboriginal people in Australia.
The landscaped park is complete with unique features including bridges, pavilions and waterfalls, a native wildlife park, Chinese garden, New Zealand Garden, BBQ and picnic area and large conference centre for business meetings, weddings and other varying functions, it is a popular tourist attraction located in Knox Rd, Doonside and Rooty Hill, New South Wales.
The name "Nurragingy" commemorates one of the two Aboriginal people of the Dharruk (Dharug, Daruk) tribe who received the first land grant to Aboriginal people from Governor of New South Wales, Lachlan Macquarie in 1819. The other title holder was Colebee, whose name has been given to the Centre within the Reserve.
The Colebee Centre at Nurragingy Reserve