Archive for April, 2010

SMALLPOX – DEAD ABORIGINES DON’T EAT – STARVATION & SMALLPOX – JANUARY 1788 TO JUNE 1790

Saturday, April 17th, 2010

‘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. L.F. Fitzhardinge, Angus and Robertson, Sydney 1961

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

Botany Bay – 1788, January 20: Within thirty-six (36) hours between 8-20 January the ships of the  ‘First Fleet’ were at anchor in Botany Bay, New Holland, now Australia.

HMS Supply first 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

Port Jackson – 21 January: Taking Captain Cook’s 1770 charts Phillip accompanied by officers and surveyors set off in three (3) long-boats hoping to find a more defensible site.

Sydney Cove: They sighted the towering headlands of Cook’s Port Jackson’. Rowing through into a vast harbour Phillip settled on a protected deep-water cove naming it for the Home Secretary Lord Sydney.

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.

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

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

25 January: The weather kept Captain Phillip inside Botany Bay until the afternoon of the 25th January when aboard HMS Supply he quit Botany Bay. At  sunset Supply dropped anchor in Sydney Cove.

26 January – Sydney Cove: Next morning 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 landing, it was found impossible to read the public commissions and take possession of the colony in form, until the 7th of February ‘. Tench. ibid.

The most ‘pressing business’ – what to do about La Perouse?  The solution was extraordinary. Drop everything and occupy an uninhabited mere dot in a wild ocean that, in 1774 Captain James Cook on his second Pacific voyage, had named Norfolk Island.

To stymie the French, who had the same notion, on 31st January 1788, Governor Phillip commissioned Lieutenant Phillip Gidley King RN, his closest friend and trusted ally, Lieutenant Governor of Norfolk Island and sent him off to establish an even more isolated ‘Robinson Crusoe’ settlement there.

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6 February, Sydney: At the end of the first week of February 1788 the fleet’s two hundred and twenty-one (221) women and their children were rowed ashore.

7 February, Sydney: The following day, with all the ‘pomp and circumstance of glorious war‘, Governor Phillip’s commissions were read.

Without consent of its First Peoples or entering into treaty them,in the name of King George III,Britain claimed ‘Sovereignty’ over New Holland ‘from Cape York in the most northern extremity….and adjacent islands….to South Cape’.

14 February, Norfolk Island:  A week later just on dusk HMS Supply slipped out through Sydney Heads and disappeared from view. See: Asleep In The Deep

10 March, Botany Bay: La Boussole and L’Astrolabe sailed for home never to be seen again.

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‘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

When no ships arrived it became clear European survival would depend on appropriating foods, especially fish, that for millennia had sustained local Aboriginal families

‘Our customary method was to leave Sydney Cove about four in the afternoon and go down the harbour and fish all night from one cove to another. We made 23 hauls of the seine in one night’. Jacob Nagle, The Nagle Journal 1775 to 1841, Weidenfeld & Nicolson, New York ed. John C. Dann, 1988

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