Archive for April, 2010


Saturday, April 17th, 2010

‘Before leaving Botany Bay Phillip had messages painted 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

1787 – 13 May, Portsmouth: An expeditionary force, eleven (11) ships commanded by Captain Arthur Phillip RN, sailed from England to invade the island continent of New Holland, now Australia in mid May 1787.

The armed convoy – known in Britain and Australia as the ‘First Fleet’ – had a complement of fifteen hundred (1500) souls. One- half  were convicted  criminals 580 male – 193 female.

‘In determining the daily ration no distinction was drawn between the marine 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

1788 – 20 January, Botany Bay: Between 18-20 January 1788 the ships anchored in Botany Bay. HMS Supply, first of the fleet to arrive, 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

21 January, Sydney Cove: Phillip accompanied by officers and marines set off in three (3) long-boats to find a more sheltered and defensible site. Phillip settled on a protected cove, Sydney Cove, about nine (9) miles (14km) north of Botany Bay situated deep within a vast harbour – Port Jackson.

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

 24 January: ‘I rose at the first dawn… when the cry of “another sail” struck on my astonished ear’. Marine Captain Watkin Tench, Sydney’s First Four Years, ed. F.L. Fitzhardinge, Angus and Robertson, 1961

Two (2) French ships, La Boussole and L’Astrolabe, under command of Jean-Francois La Perouse, appeared off the entrance to Botany Bay.

HMS Sirius’ deck- mounted cannon forced La Perouse back out into what by then were raging seas.

25 January, Sydney Cove: The same seas kept Captain Phillip inside Botany Bay until the afternoon of the 25th January when he quit Botany Bay in HMS Supply anchoring in Sydney Cove at 7pm that evening.

26 January, Sydney: At first light Phillip landed with marines. A flagstaff was built and the Union Jack raised. Just on 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

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. Abandoned and Left To Starve @ Sydney Cove January 1788 to June 1790

After the nine (9) chartered vessels, Alexander, Charlotte, Friendship, Scarborough, Prince of Wales, Lady Penrhyn, Borrowdale, Fishburn, Golden Grove returned to England they lived in absolute isolation; ‘endless uncertainty’…misery and horror’ of creeping starvation.

Not another English ship nor a word was heard from England until the arrival of ‘Britain’s Grim Armada’ in June 1790. By that time (June 1790) the weekly ration issue: ‘to every child of eighteen months old and to every grown person two pounds of pork, two pounds and a half of flour, two pounds of rice, or a quart of pease.

When the age of this provision is recollected, its inadequacy will more strikingly appear. The pork and rise were brought with us from England: the pork had been salted between three and four years, and every grain of rice was a moving body, from the inhabitants lodged within it’. Tench. ibid.