Archive for April, 2010


Saturday, April 17th, 2010

1789: ‘The body of the [Aboriginal] woman showed that famine, superadded to disease, had occasioned her death.

But how a disease to which our former observations had led us to suppose them strangers could at once have introduced itself, and have spread so widely seems inexplicable’. Marine Captain Watkin Tench, Sydney’s First Four Years, ed. F.L. Fitzhardinge, Angus and Robertson, Sydney 1961


1788: ‘Before leaving Botany Bay Phillip had messagespainted on the rocks of Bare Island near which the Fleet had been moored, to guide the ships which Phillip believed were following closely from England, around to Sydney Cove’. Bruce Mitchell, The Australian Story and Its Background, Cheshire Press, 1965

Portsmouth – 1787 –  13 May: A large expeditionary force, eleven (11) ships commanded by Captain Arthur Phillip RN, sailed from England to invade the island continent of New Holland, now Australia. See: Apollo II, Fly Me To The Moon

‘In determining the daily ration no distinction was drawn between the marines and the [male] convicts …the standard adopted was that of the troops serving in the West Indies’. Wilfrid Oldham, Britain’s Convicts to the Colonies, ed. Hugh Oldham, Library of Australian History, 1990‘. See: All The King’s Men – Criminals of the First Fleet

Known in Britain and Australia as the ‘First Fleet’ one- half of its complement of 1500  were convicted criminals 580 male – 193 female.

The Navy Board’s mandated a; ‘weekly ration to the marine and male convicts after their arrival in New South Wales: 7 pounds of bread or 7 pounds of flour; 7 pounds of beef or 4 pounds of pork, 3 pints of pease, 6 ounces of butter, 1 pound of flour or one-half pound of rice’. Oldham. ibid.

Botany Bay – 1788 – 20 January:  Between 18-20 January 1788 the fleet anchored in Botany Bay. HMS Supply immediately played out her ‘seine’ trawling nets.

‘While the seine was hauling some of them [Aborigines] were present…No sooner were the fish out of the water than they began to lay hold of them as if they had a right to them, or that they were their own’. Dr John White, Chief Medical Officer, First Fleet Journal, Oxford City Press, 2011

Port Jackson – 21 January: Taking Captain Cook’s charts from 1770 Phillip accompanied by officers and marine surveyors set off in three (3) long-boats in the hope of finding ‘Port Jackson’.

Given Cook’s description of towering headlands no doubt a more defensible site.

Sydney Cove:: Having entered the port’s vast harbour Phillip settled on a protected deep-water cove cove he named Sydney after Lord Sydney the Home Secretary.

Botany Bay – 23 January: ‘The boat[s] returned on the evening of the 23d…it was determined the evacuation of Botany Bay should commence the next morning’. Tench. ibid.

24 January: ‘I rose at the first dawn… when the cry of “another sail” struck on my astonished ear’.

Two (2) French ships, La Boussole and L’Astrolabe, commanded by Jean-Francois La Perouse, appeared off the entrance to Botany Bay. HMS Sirius’ deck- mounted cannon forced La Perouse back out into raging seas.

Sydney  – 25 January: The same seas kept Captain Phillip inside Botany Bay until the afternoon of the 25th January when aboard HMS Supply he quit Botany Bay anchoring in Sydney Cove at sunset.

26 January: At first light Phillip landed with a detachment of marines. A flagstaff was built and the Union Jack raised.

By nightfall the remaining English ships were riding alongside Supply. See: Australia Britain by a Short Half-Head – Captain Arthur Phillip & Comte Jean- Francois La Perouse

‘Owing to the multiplicity of pressing business necessary to be performed immediately after land, it was found impossible to read the public commissions and take possession of the colony in form, until the 7th of February ‘. Tench,. ibid.

6 February, Sydney: By the end of the first week of February 1788 one thousand (1000) English men and two hundred and twenty-one (221) English women had landed.

Little did they know what lay ahead – absolute isolation, endless uncertainty and the ‘misery and horror’ of creeping starvation.   Abandoned and Left To Starve @ Sydney Cove January 1788 to June 1790