Aboriginal clans of the Sydney region observed the First Fleet enter Port Jackson in January 1788. The pale-skinned people (gubbas) the ships brought from Britain would quickly have a catastrophic impact on their lives. The territory of the Cadigal and Wangal clans adjacent to the British settlement at Sydney Cove embraced a tract measured out in 1790 as the Sydney Glebe lands. Smallpox (galgal) swept through the local indigenous population within 18 months of first contact, killing half the Aboriginal population of the Sydney district.
Governor Phillip's instructions from the British authorities directed him to allocate 400 acres (161.8 hectares) in each township to support a Church of England clergyman. The first chaplain appointed to the colony, Richard Johnson, set out to clear his heavily timbered glebe, which he later wrote was unsuitable for cultivation; it was '400 acres for which I would not give 400 pence'. About 1794, Johnson obtained a much more productive 100-acre (40.4-hectare) grant which he named Canterbury Vale, where he engaged in stock raising and agriculture, ending his contact with Glebe.