Archive for the ‘First Fleet’ Category

A BLACK HOLE – THE FIRST INTERREGNUM 1792-1795

Wednesday, February 21st, 2018

‘Twenty-five regiments of British infantry…fought in one of the most prolonged wars in the history of the British empire and for the first half of their stay were probably more frequently in action than the garrison of any other colony besides that of southern Africa’. Dr Peter Stanley, The Remote Garrison, The British Army in Australia 1788-1870, Kangaroo Press, 1986

1788 – January, Sydney Cove: At Port Jackson in 1788 Captain Arthur Phillip RN established naval and military bases and an open prison for England’s lowest common denominator, her convicted criminals. But criminals with a difference – all male convicts were combatants, rationed as British troops ‘serving in the West Indies’. 

Governor Phillip’s five (5) traumatic years as Britain’s first naval Governor of Australia were dogged by ill-health and after repeated requests for relief, London permitted his repatriation.

1792 – 11 December 1792, England: Phillip departed Sydney for England on the Atlantic in mid December 1792 but left a legacy that brought about the near destruction of Australia’s First Peoples. See: Terror – Phillip’s Algorithm

 ‘The orders under which I [Tench] was commanded to act [22 December 1790] differing in no respect from the last [13 December]…if six [6] cannot be taken, let this number be shot…cut off and bring in the heads of the slain…bring in two ]2] prisoners I am resolved to execute in the most public and exemplary manner in the presence of as many of their countrymen as can be collected.

I [Phillip] am determined to repeat it, whenever any future breach of good conduct on their side, shall render it necessary’. Captain-General  Governor Arthur Phillip, 22 December 1790. Captain Watkin Tench, Sydney’s First Four Years, ed. F.L. Fitzhardinge, Angus and Robertson, 1961

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A BAND OF BROTHERS & MORTAL ENEMIES

Saturday, February 17th, 2018

‘After delivering my message to him, he [La Perouse] returned his thanks to Governor Phillip, and made similar offers to those he had received’. Lieutenant Phillip Gidley King RN, First Fleet Journal, February 1788

Captain Arthur Phillip RN and Comte Jean-Francois La Perouse never met. On opposing sides in peace and war yet as seafarers they shared a bond like no other.

Phillip knew a great deal about La Perouse. It is impossible to believe he did not admire the gallant Frenchman who had a deserved reputation for compassion.

‘The Way of War is A Way of Deception. When Able, Feign inability; When deploying troops, Appear not to be’. Sun-Tzu, c.551-496 BC, Penguin, 2009

The ‘First Fleet’ an expeditionary force fully funded by government sailed under the guise of a convict transportation fleet. Its 580 male convicts wee rationed ‘as troops serving in the West Indies’.

Portsmouth – 1787, 13 May: Overwhelmingly male – 1300 men, 221 women –  commanded by Captain Arthur Phillip RN the large armed convoy of eleven (11) ships sailed from Portsmouth ‘Bound for Botany Bay’.

France:  Phillip knew  Comte Jean-Fancois La Perouse, with two (2) ships La Boussole and L’Astrolabe, was already on the high seas and making for New Holland. See: A Riddle – When was an invasion fleet not an invasion fleet? When it’s the First Fleet  

The squadron’s true intent was to invade and claim British sovereignty over the island continent of New Holland (Australia) before the French.

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REAR WINDOW & ‘THE BUSINESS OF WAR’ : 7 FEBRUARY 2018 – 7 FEBRUARY 1788

Wednesday, February 7th, 2018

1788 – 7 February, Port Jackson: ‘We have come today to take possession of this fifth great continental division of the earth on behalf of the British people. I do not doubt that this country will prove the most valuable acquisition Great Britain ever made. How grand a prospect which lies before this youthful nation’. Governor Arthur Phillip RN, Historical Records of New South Wales.

How ‘grand a prospect’ lay before this ancient land’s First Peoples?

1838 – 21 December, London: ‘You cannot overrate the solicitude of H. M. Government on the subject of the Aborigines of New Holland. It is impossible to contemplate the condition or the prospects of that unfortunate race without the deepest commiseration.  Still it is impossible that the government should forget that the original aggression was ours’. Lord John Russell to [Governor] Sir George Gipps, 21 December 1838, Historical Records of Australia, Series 1. Vol. XX

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AIR-BRUSHED – INVASION – EYES WIDE SHUT

Wednesday, November 1st, 2017

‘The Old Privy Council decision in Cooper V Stuart [1889] was based on the factual errors that Australia was peacefully settled and that Aborigines were never in possession of the land’. Professor Bruce Kercher, An Unruly Child, A History of Law in Australia, 1994

London – 1889, April 3: Lord Watson, Lord Fitzgerald, Lord Hobhouse, Lord MacNaghton, Sir William Grove, in Cooper V Stuart [1889] 14 AC, Privy Council of the United Kingdom, ruled: [13] ‘There was no land law existing in the Colony (New South Wales) at the time of its [peaceful] annexation to the Crown’.

Sydney – 1790, December 13: ‘Bring in six [6] of those natives who reside near the head of Botany Bay, or if that should be found impractical, to put that number to  death…cut off and bring in the heads of the slain’. Extract: General Orders, Governor Arthur Phillip to Marine Captain Watkin Tench, Sydney, 13 December 1790, Historical Records of New South Wales.

Canberra – 1992 – June 3: The High Court of Australia, Mabo and Others V Queensland (No. 2) 1992, in a majority 6:I judgement, Justices Mason, Brennan, Dean, Gaudron, Toohey, Justice Dawson dissenting, found proposition [13]; ‘There was no land law…Aborigines were never in possession of the land’ [was] wrongly decided’. Kercher. ibid.

‘Despite recognising native title, these judgements upheld the feudal basis of Australian land law. The High Court in Mabo V Queensland confirmed the feudal origins of Australia’s land law. The majority claimed that the Crown acquired ultimate title, known as ‘radical title’ of all Australian land upon colonisation’.  http.//anu.ed.

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A TETHERED GOAT – JOHN McENTIRE- DECEMBER 1790

Wednesday, August 30th, 2017

Sydney – 1790 January 1: ‘Since we first arrived at this distant country [January 1788] all this while we have been as it were buried alive, never having the opportunity to hear from our friends…our hopes are now almost vanished’. Reverend Richard Johnson, 9 April 1790‘. Jack Egan, Buried Alive, Eyewitness accounts of the making of a nation 1788-92, Allen and Unwin, Sydney 1999

June 1790  Flags Up…a ship with London on her stern’.

On the 3rd of June 1790,  two (2) months after  ‘hope [had] now almost vanished’– the cry ‘Flags Up’ rang out.  Lady Juliana with two hundred and twenty six (226) ‘useless’ women prisoners broke the terrible isolation.

She was first of four (4) vessels that made up the second fleet Britain’s Grim Armada .By the end of June 1790 Alexander, Scarborough Suprize the fleet’s death ships arrived with approximately one thousand (1000) men.

One hundred and fifteen (115) officers and other ranks, first contingent of the New South Wales Corps of Infantry guarded the prisoners during the voyage.

London Gazette Extract

‘The great change came in the arrival with the Second Fleet of the first companies of the New South Wales Corps’. Nigel Rigby, Peter van der Merwse, Glyn Williams. Pacific Explorations, Voyages of Discovery from Captain Cook’s Endeavour to the Beagle, Bloomsbury, Adlard Coles, London, 2018

Just six (6) months later; ‘military and police raids against dissenting Aboriginal groups lasted from the eighteenth to the twentieth centuries. These raids had commenced by December 1790’. Professor Bruce Kercher, An Unruly Child, A History of Law in Australia, Allen and Unwin, 1995

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ALL THE KING’S MEN-THE CRIMINALS OF THE ‘FIRST FLEET’

Tuesday, May 16th, 2017

‘In determining the daily ration no distinction was drawn between the marines and [male] convicts…the standard adopted was that of the troops serving in the West Indies’. Wilfrid Oldham, Britain’s Convicts to the Colonies, ed. E. Hugh Oldham, Library of Australian History, Sydney 1990

Portsmouth -1787 May 13: The ‘First Fleet’ an armed squadron of eleven (11) ships, known in Britain and Australia as the ‘First Fleet’, commanded by Captain Arthur Phillip RN sailed from England to invade the island continent of New Holland.

Of its overwhelmingly male complement, 1500 souls, seven hundred and fifty (750) were convicted criminals. Five hundred and eighty male (580) male convicts rationed;  ‘as troops serving in the West Indies’ were available for combat. See: April Fools Day – Hulks Act 

Botany Bay – 1788 January: Portsmouth to Spanish Teneriffe, to Portuguese Rio, to Dutch Cape Town.  On the lengthy last leg, sixty-eight (68) days Cape Town to Botany Bay, scurvy appeared throughout the fleet.

After eight (8) months voyaging across 13,000 miles (21,000 km) of ‘imperfectly explored oceans’ the convoy reached the island continent of New Holland whose  peoples  ‘were entitled to defend themselves from invasion’.

‘Phillip was authorised to see to the defence of the colony…The cultural arrogance of the British was evident even before the First Fleet sailed. There was no recognition that the Aborigines had their own notion of right, that from their point of view they were entitled to defend themselves from invasion’. Professor Bruce Kercher, An Unruly Child, A History of Law in Australian, Allen & Unwin, 1995.

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Botany Bay – 1788 January 20: On arrival there was an urgent need for fresh water and food. HMS Sirius and HMS Supply the fleet’s warships, immediately deployed their 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, Journal of A Voyage to New South Wales, Oxford University Press, 2011

21 January: Phillip deemed Botany Bay difficult to defend. He set out with a scouting party in one (1) of three (3) ship’s long boats in search of  ‘Port Jackson‘ marked as such by Captain Cook in 1770.

Port Jackson – 22 January: Rowing hard against the wind, (9) nautical miles north of Botany Bay they came upon towering headlands guarding a wide entrance to a vast harbour that Phillip wrote offered ‘Perfect Security…for a thousand Sail of the Line’.

Botany Bay – 23 January: The boat[s] returned on the evening of the 23rd, with such an account of the harbour and advantages attending the place, that it was determined the evacuation of Botany Bay should commence the next morning’. Marine Captain Watkin Tench, Sydney’s First Four Years, ed. L.F. Fitzhardinge, Angus and Robertson, 1961

24 January::  ‘Another sail’…’at first I only laughed. wrote Tench.

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

HMS Sirius her gun-ports opened for ‘business’ caused La Perouse to retreat.

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‘The interventions of the French navy, in the Channell, off Gibralter, in the West Indies, off Yorktown, had clearly played a considerable part in Britain’s failure to win the war in America’. Paul Kennedy, The Rise and Fall of British Naval Mastery, 3rd ed. Fontana Press, 1991

Captain Arthur Phillip RN, a veteran of America’s Revolutionary War like many of the fleet’s officers, was particularly reactive to La Perouse and his ships. See: Lieutenant William Dawes – The Shock of the New South Wales Corps & ‘The Eternal Flame’

He had failed to raise ‘English Colours’ at Port Jackson and now feared the French might raise their ‘Colours’ before he got back there.

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A dedicated officer of the Royal Navy Phillip felt acutely Britain’s loss of her thirteen (13)  ‘New World’ American colonies.

25 January: ‘Supply’ was made ready to sail at first light.  However weather closed-in and dense fog prevented Phillip’s departure until after mid-day. Just on nightfall Supply anchored in Sydney Cove.

Sydney Cove – 26 January: At dawn Phillip with a party of marines rowed ashore. The first sod turned,  the ‘Union Jack’ hoisted and Britain’s victory over France declared. See: Australia – Britain By A Short Half-Head

Governor Phillip in his mission accomplished letter to arch-intriguer Earl of Shelburne assured government; ‘here a Thousand sail of the Line may ride in the most perfect Security’.  Governor Phillip to William Petty, 2nd Earl of Shelburne, Marquis of Lansdowne, cited in Oxford Book of Australian Letters ed. Brenda Niall and John Thompson, 1998 

By evening on the 26th January the remaining vessels were riding alongside Supply.  La Bousolle and L’ Astrolabe had taken their place, in Frenchmens Cove, now a picnic spot in the Sydney suburb of La Perouse.

‘Owing to the multiplicity of pressing business necessary for 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.

6 February: Between ‘6am and 6 pm’ the fleet’s two hundred and thirty-one (231) women and approximately fifty (50) children ‘were rowed ashore’. See: ? Aside from sea-gulls how many white birds where on land at Sydney Cove 26 January 1788 – None

Sydney Cove – February 7‘The battalion was drawn up on parade…music playing…convicts assembled…His Majesty’s commission read…Nor have Government been backward in arming Mr. Phillip with a plenitude of power’.  Tench . ibid.

Despite assurance supplies and reinforcements would ‘follow shortly’ none came. The cast-a-ways of the ‘First Fleet’ were left to starve. See: Abandoned and Left To Starve @ Sydney Cove January 1788 to June 1790

‘Every morning from daylight until the sun sunk, did we sweep the horizon in the hope of seeing a sail’. Tench. ibid.

The callous abandonment of the English men, women and children of the ‘First Fleet’ had dire consequences for Australia’s First Nations’ Peoples.

1790

1790 – 1 January, Sydney:  ‘We ha[ve] been entirely cut off…No communication whatever having passed with our native country since the 13th of May, 1787, the day of our departure from Portsmouth’. 

March: With ‘winter at hand’ government stores held; ‘salt meat until 2d July; flour 20th August; rice, or pease in lieu, 1 October. The pork and rice 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 with it’. Tench. ibid. 

The previous year (1789) 50% of local Aboriginal families contracted smallpox and died taking pressure off the settlement’s shared food resources. See: Smallpox – Dead Aborigines Don’t Eat

1790, Phillip drew on that experience and evacuated 50% of the English population to Norfolk Island two (2) weeks sailing time away where fish were plentiful year round and richer soil more productive.

Norfolk Island – 6 March: HMS Sirius and HMS Supply departed Sydney for Norfolk Island with 50% of the white population.  Sirius was to sail onto China and arrange a rescue mission.

19 March: The flagship landed her evacuees safely but struck a submerged reef and sank. The crew, one hundred and sixty (160) Royal Navy personnel, were taken off without loss of life, but were now stranded on the island.

Sydney – 6 April, Sydney: Supply returned to Sydney with terrifying news – no China rescue.

‘A vigorous exertion to prolong existence, or the chance of relief, being all now left to us’. Tench. ibid.

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‘As we have already noticed , no distinction was drawn between the convicts and their guards in respect of their rationing…the standard [ration] adopted was that of the troops serving in the West Indies’. Oldham. ibid.

The stark difference between the 1788 ration and that of 1790 highlights the level of panic that must have seized Phillip’s ‘people’ and the  local Aboriginal community.

[1788] 7 pounds of bread or 7 pounds of flour, 7 pounds of [salted] beef or 4 pounds of [salted] pork, 3 pints of [dried] pease, 6 ounces of butter, 1 pound of flour or ½f pound of rice, ¾ ounce of cheese, ½ pint of vinegar’. Oldham. op.cit.

1790 – April, Sydney: The weekly ration issue; ‘to every child of more than eighteen months old and every grown person, two [2] pounds of pork, two pounds  and a half [2½] of flour, two [2] pounds of rice, or a quart of pease, per week, and to every child under eighteen [18] months old, the same quantity of rice and flour, and one [1] pound of pork’. Tench. ibid.

Rebellion born of fear and desperation was in the air.

‘The attitude of the faction hostile to the Governor is reflected in the comment of an anonymous officer: “In our present alarming situation the Governor thought proper to summon us all to council, a step he never thought it expedient to take before; and I will  venture to affirm that he would not now have thought it worth his while to submit himself to the opinion of anyone but that dire necessity, and a want of sufficiency in himself pointed out to him the propriety of such a salutary measure”. Commentary, Historical Records of New South Wales, Vol. 2 

Jakarta17 April:  Governor Phillip ordered Supply sail to Batavia, modern day Jakarta. Lieutenant Henry Ball RN was to buy tons of food and charter a ship to bring them to Sydney as soon as possible.

As she disappeared through the Heads Tench invoked Virgil’s Aeneid; ‘thou the support of all (t)his tottering house’.

1790 – 3 June, Sydney:  ‘Flag’s up  ‘A Ship with London on her stern’.

She was a female convict transport Lady Juliana with two hundred and twenty-six (226) prisoners.  First of four (4) vessels of a second fleet, Juliana broke the silence and mind-bending uncertainty.

But very little food aside from some sheep who survived HMS Guardian’s tussle with an iceberg on Christmas Day 1789. See: Titanic – HMS Guardian – Australia’s Titanic

Sydney- 1790, June:  At the end of June 1790 the second fleet’s death ships Neptune, Scarborough and Suprize arrived. Government had contracted these three (3) vessels to Camden, Calvert and King a firm of ‘Guinea’ slave traders working out of London.

Starved and treated with savage brutality of one thousand (1000) mainly male convicts embarked in Plymouth 25% died during the brutal passage.  A further 15% died within weeks of landing.

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The aptly named ‘Britain’s Grim Armada’ presented Governor Arthur Phillip RN with a myriad problems including a contingent of infantry.

‘The great change came in the arrival with the Second Fleet of the first companies of the New South Wales Corps [among them] Lieutenant  John Macarthur – a central figure in the military ‘mafia’ which quickly established itself as Australia’s first governing and property elite’. Nigel Rigby, Peter van der Merwe, Glyn Williams – Pacific Explorations, Voyages of Discovery from Captain Cook’s Endeavour to the Beagle, Bloomsbury, Adlard Coles, London 2018

The New Wales Corps was raised to consolidate the conquest of New Holland and repatriate the ‘First Fleet’ marines. However with HMS Supply at Jakarta and HMS Sirius at the bottom of the sea Phillip was completely isolated in the midst of an extremely hostile military garrison.

All too soon Lieutenant Macarthur opened up a second front and forced the ailing Governor to dig deep in ‘the defence of the colony’. See: Dark Matter – McMafia’ Macarthur & ‘Fiery Indian Rum’ A Teetataller’s Drug of Ruin for Others

Governor Phillip had not fully recovered from his spearing by Willeramin an Aboriginal warrior on Manly Beach in September 1790. He was well aware ‘certain officers’ led by Lieutenant Macarthur were circling the tents and there was a lot at stake. See: The Switch 1790 – War With France 1793-1815 

With HMS Sirius and HMS Supply missing in action Governor Phillip was forced to pull a rabbit out of an empty hat. See:  A Tethered goat – John McIntyre

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EPILOGUE

See: Manly – Location, Location, Location

‘In November 1784 Henry Dundas, probably [Prime Minister] PItt’s closest advisor…warned that India is the first quarter to be attacked’. Michael Pembroke, Arthur Phillip Sailor Mercenary, Governor Spy, Hardie Grant Books, 2013

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‘Our wealth and power in India is their [France’s great and constant object of jealously; and they will never miss an opportunity of attempting to wrest it out of our hands’. Sir James Harris, cited Pembroke

 

 

 

EYES WIDE SHUT – A MILITARY CAMPAIGN & ARTHUR PHILLIP

Tuesday, March 21st, 2017

1790 – 13 December Sydney: ‘Bring in six [6] of those natives who reside near the head of Botany Bay; or if that should be found impractical…put that number to death…bring in the heads of the slain…bring away two [2] prisoners to execute in the most public and exemplary manner, in the presence of as many of their countrymen as can be collected’.  General Orders: Governor Arthur Phillip RN to Marine Captain Watkin Tench. Cited Tench, Sydney’s First Four Years, ed. F.L Fitzhardinge, Angus and Robertson, 1961.

1787 – 25 April – London: ‘Live in amity and kindness with them’; His Majesty King George III to Captain Arthur Phillip RN commander of a large armed squadron of eleven (11) ships – two (2) warships, six (6) troop transports, three (3) supply vessels, known in Britain as the ‘First Fleet’. See: A Riddle – When an invasion fleet was not an invasion fleet? When it’s the ‘First Fleet’.

Extravagant lies, none are more destructive than, ‘amity kindness’.

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A RIDDLE – WHEN IS AN INVASION FLEET NOT AN INVASION FLEET? WHEN IT’S THE FIRST FLEET

Tuesday, January 17th, 2017

‘The Way of War is a Way of  Deception. When able, feign inability; when deploying troops appear not to be’. Sun-Tzu, the Art of War, Penguin ed. 2002

1787 – 13 May, England: A large armed convoy of eleven (11) ships commanded by Captain Arthur Phillip RN, known in Britain and Australia as the ‘First Fleet’ sailed from Portsmouth, England to invade the island continent of New Holland, occupy and claim British sovereignty over it from the ‘most northern extremity Cape York…to South Cape’.

‘In writing of the recruitment of criminals into armed forces, Stephen Conway observed. ‘It was still found necessary periodically to clear both the putrid and congested gaols and the equally overcrowded and insanitary hulks’. Conway, cited in Alan Frost, Botany Bay Mirages, Oxford University Press, Melbourne, 1994

One-half of the fleet’s overwhelmingly male complement, 1500 souls, seven hundred and fifty (750) were common criminals left festering in England’s ‘putrid and congested gaols’ during the American War of Independence 1775-1783.

Many of its five hundred and eighty (580) male convicts ‘their labour is for the public’ boarded from ‘overcrowded insanitary hulks moored on the River Thames in the very heart of London. See: The Hulks Act

‘In determining the daily ration no distinction was drawn between the [245] marines and the [580 male] convicts….the standard adopted was that of troops serving in the West Indies. Wilfrid Oldham, Britain’s Convicts to the Colonies, Library of Australian History, 1990

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BRITAIN BY A NOSE

Saturday, January 2nd, 2016

1785 – August, Brest: ‘In 1785 Louis XVI quietly sent the Comte de la Perouse with two ships La Boussole & L’Astrolabe to survey likely spots for French settlements. Aboard were copper plates engraved with the royal arms to be used as permanent notification of French ownership’. Australian Discovery and Exploration, Michael Cannon, 1987  

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ARTHUR PHILLIP AND “RULE 303”

Tuesday, June 30th, 2015

1790 – 11 December, Sydney Cove: ‘Put ten [10] to death…bring in the heads of the slain…bring away two [2] prisoners…I am resolved to execute the prisoners…in the most public and exemplary manner’. General Orders, Governor Arthur Phillip RN to Marine Captain Watkin Tench. Cited in Captain Watkin Tench, Sydney’s First Four Years, ed. F.L. Fitzhardinge, Angus and Robertson, 1961

1889 – April 3, United Kingdom: Judicial Committee of the Privy Council; Lord Watson, Lord Fitzgerald, Lord Hobhouse, Lord MacNaghton, Sir William Grove, Cooper V Stuart [1889] 14 AC ruled; ‘it [New South Wales] was peacefully annexed to the British Dominion’.

1790 – December: ‘Military and police raids against dissenting Aboriginal groups lasted from the eighteenth to the twentieth centuries…These raids had commenced by December 1790’. Professor Bruce Kercher, History of Law in Australia, Allen and Unwin, 1995

Australia’s First Peoples can, with laser accuracy, plot their near annihilation from the raids of December 1790; ‘as if the invasion of their land would call for any other response but armed resistance’. Dr Peter Stanley, The Remote Garrison, The British Army in Australia 1788-1870, Kangaroo Press, 1986

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