INTRODUCTION

Awaba is intended to provide a critical and electronic gateway to the corpus of historical material relating to the Indigenous peoples of the Newcastle and Lake Macquarie region. It has been made possible by the generosity and interest of contemporary Awabakal people, created by historians, archivists, Indigenous scholars and community representatives as a resource for investigations of the culture, history and language of the Awabakal people. This site has potential interest to a wide variety of people including the Awabakal and the broader Indigenous community, scholars of Aboriginal and mission history, local historians, genealogists, researchers, schools and local community organisations.We hope that it will continue to expand over the coming years and we invite contributions from the community for this purpose.

Awaba is the second instalment of Assoc. Prof. Hilary M. Carey's Aboriginal Missions and Reserves Historical Database (AMHRD). This instalment is funded by a Research Infrastructure Block Grant for 2002, and is the product of collaboration between Indigenous and non-Indigenous researchers from the Wollotuka School of Aboriginal Studies and the School of Liberal Arts. The University has worked in partnership with representatives of the Awabakal Aboriginal community who have agreed to share aspects of their intellectual and cultural property with the broader community through this site.

In keeping with the theme of the AMHRD, this project draws heavily on the published and unpublished papers of the Lake Macquarie missionary, Lancelot Edward Threlkeld. The contributions to Awaba include one of the earliest translations from the Bible into an Australian Aboriginal language, produced by Threlkeld and his Awabakal mentor,  Birabahn, in 1837, published here for the first time. However the Awaba project has cast a wider net, presenting a range of historical materials, primary and secondary, from early colonial records to recent ethnographic and archaeological studies. The quantity and quality of information from the early colonial period is especially rich, and is supplemented by work around the turn of the century by the work of pioneer anthropologists such as William Walford Thorpe and Walter John Enright. By virtue of the fact that Awabakal people survived in the area into the twentieth century, a great deal of information was passed in more recent times to men and women such as John Taaffe, Canon Carlos Stretch, Percy Haslam, Boris Sokoloff and Rita Smith.

The bulk of the material used, listed and reproduced for the Awaba project, relates specifically to the Aboriginal peoples of the Newcastle and Lake Macquarie region. However, it is supplemented, were appropriate, by primary and secondary materials relating to Aboriginal peoples from the upper Hunter, Port Stephens, Great Lakes and Central Coast regions. Some of this material has been digitised by the University's Archives, Rare Books and Special Collections Unit (ARBSC) as part of its Virtual Sourcebook: Aboriginal Studies in the Hunter Region, while some formerly unpublished materials have been transcribed for this project. The sources are listed in the Bibliography, with links to digitised materials (.pdf and .html files).