Canberra is Ngunnawal country (pronounced: nun-na-woll). The Ngunnawal are the Indigenous people of this region, that is, its first inhabitants. Canberra is a harsh climate and difficult country for hunter-gatherers. To live here required great knowledge of the environment, skilful custodianship and cooperation.
People normally moved in small family groups but there were, on special occasions, big gatherings that came together to make use of resources which were seasonally abundant (most famously the Bogong moth and the Yam Daisy). Important ceremonies were held, art was painted in rock shelters, marriages were arranged, goods were traded, important news was shared and old friends met again.
Indigenous people have been living here for at least 20 000 years. The hunter-gatherer lifestyle continued to be practised into the 1800s, until the arrival of Europeans with their sheep flocks and cattle herds. Their arrival also introduced diseases, like smallpox and measles, which quickly affected the indigenous.
The Ngunnawal people have always remained in the area, and with greater recognition of their history and importance, they have become more visible in the general community.