The Borogegal tribe inhabited the
Mosman area. The best known Aborigine in Mosman’s history was Bungaree. Bungaree (c1775-1830) grew up in the
traditional Aboriginal environment which his people had enjoyed for many thousands of years. With the coming of
the European settlement his life became dramatically different. By the time he was 20 most of his tribe had died
of smallpox. By the time he was 26 he had joined British explorers on voyages to the far north and had
circumnavigated Australia with Matthew Flinders.
HMS Sirius, flagship of the
First Fleet, was careened in 1789 at what is now known as Mosman Bay or Great Sirius Cove. The site chosen was
described as a “… convenient retired cove on the north shore …”. Less than six months later the ship was wrecked
in the rough waters off Norfolk Island. From as early as 1801 Mosman has been synonymous with Sydney’s maritime
and defence installations, when a battery was constructed at George’s Head. In 1811-1813 Thomas O’Neil
cultivated land at Balmoral and in c1823 Captain John Edwards settled in the area. Later Barney Kearns plied a
ferryboat across Middle Harbour.
The late 1820s brought the
whaling industry to Chowder Bay which was used as an anchorage for visiting American whalers. In 1831 Archibald
Mosman and John Bell were allotted grants of land in Mosman Bay to establish a whaling station. Two years later
it was completed and Mosman’s first grand home, The Nest, was built. The whaling industry flourished and
Archibald Mosman sold the business at its height in 1838 and moved to Glen Innes. Thereafter, in the 1840s,
whaling declined and for the next 10 years, Mosman Bay was used for overhauling ships.