Wallumatta: Rediscovering The City Of Ryde



WORDS | Claire Catacouzinos

At the beginning of every Grapeshot magazine, we humbly acknowledge the Darug Aboriginal people as the traditional custodians of the land on which Macquarie University is situated. Specifically, it was the Wallumedegal or Wallumettagal Indigenous Aboriginal tribe from this Darug nation that were the traditional owners of Ryde which they called Wallumatta. Their clan name was most likely derived from the word “wallumai” which means “snapper fish,” so they would have been the “snapper people”. Artefacts are scattered around the whole area of Ryde, such as axe grinding grooves and rock engravings. Their history still survives and we are very appreciative of their beautiful land.

Ryde is the third oldest white settlement in Australia after Sydney and Parramatta. A lot of us students don’t know that Macquarie University and the area between Parramatta and Lane Cove River was known to the white settlers as the Field of Mars (Mars being the Roman God of War – yes, there’s European History here). It was named by Governor Phillip in 1792 who allocated divisions of the land for small farms and villas to a couple of former British marines and convicts. So Field of Mars means a “land of the soldiers”. So we’re standing on farm land, how crazy is that when there’s cars zapping about all the time? A part of Ryde is still known as The Field of Mars Reserve which is a remnant of bushland that you can visit and follow boardwalks and walking tracks.

This metropolis area even has streets named after famous battles, like Balaclava Road that sounds like the tasty Baklava dessert, is actually named after the Battle of Balaclava in 1854. Even Culloden Road and Talavera Road where we park outside of uni are named after battles. This is so relevant when it comes to finding a damn parking spot! Fellow students, there is history everywhere! The next time you step on campus, think about the incredible sandstone soil we stand on, and our Lake, it’s actually part of Mars Creek! Never forget, we’re all soldiers battling for parking spots, to then snap our way through university!


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