Barangaroo

''They've shown little respect'': Aborigines have criticised the use of Barangaroo's name. Photo: Supplied

A collective shudder passed through parts of Sydney's Aboriginal community when a young indigenous man fell 30 metres to his death at Barangaroo early this year.

Some say the site is cursed. Others believe that the waterfront suburb should never have been named Barangaroo, after Bennelong's wife, and that consultation with the indigenous community should have been more widespread.

The fire that last week halted operations at the site, which is one of the largest construction projects in the history of Sydney, heightened these concerns.

''They've shown little respect for the Aboriginal protocols,'' Darug, Yuin and Bidjigal elder Aunty Rhonda Dixon-Grosvenor said. ''I personally feel that this is why these things are happening.''

Gazetted in 2007, the name Barangaroo was selected for the harbourside redevelopment from some 1600 suggestions in a statewide naming competition.

Work on the controversial $6 billion residential and retail project, including plans for a high rollers' casino owned by James Packer, was hampered by the massive underground fire on Wednesday that threatened to topple a 50-metre crane.

Asbestos-contaminated soil has been found in the area where container wharves once jutted into the harbour and, in late 2012, work stopped after landfill was found to contain about 1 per cent bonded asbestos.

Aboriginal journalist Amy McQuire has heard people say the area cursed.

''I wouldn't be surprised that it was,'' she said. ''Barangaroo was an amazing woman. She was a strong, feminist hero.

''She put her marriage on the line to stand up for what she believed in.''

McQuire said that Bennelong - who was captured and brought to the European settlement at Sydney Cove by governor Arthur Phillip in 1789 - was often viewed as a traitor to his fellow Aboriginal people because of his close relationship with the white man.

By contrast, his wife, Barangaroo, was remembered as a strong woman who disapproved of the assistance he gave the settlers.

''Her name and her legacy have been reduced to a suburb,'' McQuire said.

''Her name has been put to something that [doesn't] benefit Aboriginal people … I think Barangaroo would be dead against it.''

Bidjigal and Yuin custodian Darlene Hoskins-McKenzie said Barangaroo's name should never have been used.

''That name should never have been given to that site,'' she said. ''When they first named it Barangaroo, I got chills down my spine.''