‘Since Sir Young, an admiral who was intensely interested in the proposal to send the first fleet to New South Wales, did not know even in 1788 that Norfolk Island was part of the design, it seems clear that only a few men in the [secretive] inner circle of government knew the exact purposes of the settlement’. Professor Geoffrey Blainey, Gotham City, cited The Founding of Australia, The argument about Australia’s origins, ed. Ged Martin, Hale and Iremonger 1978, p.107

1787 – 13 May, England: Commanded by Captain Arthur Phillip RN a large expeditionary force of eleven ships (11) – known in Britain and Australia as the ‘First Fleet’ – sailed from Portsmouth to invade the island continent of New Holland now Australia.

Phillip, a secret service operative, lived in a world of secrets and intrigue. Long active in Britain’s Foreign Secret Service, present-day MI 6, he acted through Evan Nepean who can best described as his ‘handler’.

Phillip and Nepean, a former naval officer turned politician then, Under-Secretary to Lord Sydney at the Home Office, had known each other since the early 1770s.

‘During Lord Sydney’s time as secretary of state, the Home Office was a clearing house. Its jurisdiction included overseeing of naval officers involved in trade regulation, secret service and special projects. As a result, Sydney crossed paths with three men who left their mark on history – Horotio Nelson, William Bligh and Arthur Phillip’. Andrew Tink, Lord Sydney [life and times of Tommy Townshend], 2011.

Arthur Phillip was the son of an English mother and German father, a teacher of languages. Allied to fluency in French German Dutch Spanish and Portuguese Phillip’s appearance made him an exceptionally effective spy.

‘We, reposing especial trust and confidence in your loyalty, courage and experience in military affairs, do by these presents constitute and appoint you to be Governor of our territory of New South Wales, extending from the northern cape or extremity of the coast Cape York…to the southern extremity of the said territory of New South Wales or South Cape’. King George III, to Arthur Phillip, 12 October 1786. Historical Records of New South Wales, Vol. 1

In August 1786 Captain Arthur Phillip RN was selected to lead Britain’s invasion of New Holland. This ‘special project’ was undertaken in order to stymie French ambition’s centred in the east on India and Dutch Java.

‘It generally appeared when we have been involved in  war with France, that Spain and Holland have engaged in hostilities against us. John Hunter, An Historical Journal of the Transactions at Port Jackson and Norfolk Island, Original ed. 1793. Bibliobazzrar ed. 2008

‘Parallel to, and dependent upon, the Anglo-French duel for command of the sea went their struggle for overseas bases and colonies…That the fighting against France in what was originally and essentially a European war should have spread so swiftly to the tropics was a result of many factors, most of them predictable’. Paul Kennedy, The Rise and Fall of British Naval Mastery, Fontana Press, 3rd ed. London, 1976

England desired what, since the time of Tudor Elizabeth, had been denied them access to the immense riches of Spain’s South American colonies.

However the late Captain James Cook RN had shown New Holland’s geographical position in the Southern Oceans, rendered her Pacific Coast ‘treasure’ colonies, hitherto susceptible only to  seasonal predatory raids by British pirates and privateers, could be vulnerable to attack by the Royal Navy.

Dominance  over the Southern Oceans guaranteed the British Navy secure passage to and from India, Asia and South America. In addition these alternate sea-routes could serve as a possible blockade-breaker in time of war with France.and Spain. See: A Riddle – When is an invasion fleet not an invasion fleet? When it’s the First Fleet

Britain’s lawyers using legal tags –‘terra nullius’ – ‘vacuum domicillium’ deemed New Holland empty – uninhabited, therefore under international law of the 18th century, capable of ‘effective  occupation’ conquest.  See: A Cracker-Jack Opinion – No   Sweat         

Britain’s invasion of New Holland was remarkably prescient. Within five (5) years Britain was engaged in the French and Napoleonic Wars 1793 -1815.

‘Four companies of Marines landed with the first Europeans to settle in Australia, and twenty five [25] regiments of British infantry served in the colonies between 1790 and 1870…They fought in one of the most prolonged frontier 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                                                                                                          

1788-1870: ‘ They fought in the most prolonged frontier wars in the history of the British Empire’ yet the Privy Council of the United Kingdom [Cooper V Stuart 1889] found; ‘New South Wales was peacefully annexed to the Dominions’.


‘New Holland is a good blind, then, when we want to add to the military strength of India’. Anon Historical Records of New South Wales, Anon.

Britain’s first objective – domination of ‘the sea-route to Asia via the Southern Oceans’ required Britain get to New Holland before the French and claim New Holland ‘from the Northern extremity of the coast called Cape York…to the Southern extremity…South Cape.

1788 – 18-20 January, Botany Bay: The ‘First Fleet’ anchored in Botany Bay between 18-20 January. Its complement of 1500 souls, one-half convicted criminals, was overwhelmingly male. All 1300 men – sailors, soldiers and convicts rationed as ‘troops serving in the West Indies’ were combatants

21 January Port Jackson: Taking Cook’s charts Phillip accompanied by marines and surveyors set off the find the master-mariner’s ‘Port Jackson’ .

Late that afternoon their three (3) small row boats ‘passed between the capes which form the entrance’ into a vast harbour ‘r[a]n up the harbour about four miles’ and Supply cast her anchor just as night fell.

22 – 23 January – Sydney Cove:  The following two (2) days were spent rowing around the harbour. From a myriad of bays and inlets Phillip chose a ‘snug’ deep-water cove naming it for the Home Secretary Lord Sydney.

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

1788 – 24 January, Botany Bay:  Two (2) French ships  –La Boussole, La Astrolabe – commanded by Captain Jean-Francois La Perouse were spotted standing off Botany Bay.

‘There would seem to be some justification for the saying that England won Australia by six days’. Edwards Jenks’ History of Australian Colonies, cited Hugh E. Egerton, A Short History of British Colonial Policy, The Period of Trade Ascendency, Methuen, 1928.

1788 – 25 January, Port Jackson:  Phillip believing La Perouse, having been refused entry to Botany Bay, might make a dash north to Port Jackson, quit Botany Bay in HMS Supply reaching Port Jackson jut on dark.

‘International law had developed a doctrine of discovery that dictated the rule by which European colonial powers could claim territory around the world. Raising the flag was one of the acts recognised as an assertion of a prior claim against other colonial powers eyeing off the same land. Prof. Larissa Behrendt The Honest History Book, ed. David Stephens & Alison Broinowski, New SouthPress, 2017 See: Australia – Britain By A Short Half-Head

26 January – Sydney Cove:: At first light Phillip landed.  Master- mariner and master-spy he had pulled off a very ‘special project’ and won the race for New Holland. See: A Band of Brothers and Mortal Enemies

‘…his [Phillip’s] failure to invite the French commander [La Perouse] there [Port Jackson] reflect some fear that he might be known as a spy. Alan Frost, Arthur Phillip 1738-1814 His Voyaging, Melbourne University Press.

1788 – 26 January, Botany Bay: While the Sirius’ cannon kept the French out. Rough weather kept the remaining English fleet in. Later the fleet managed a dangerous exit that put both lives and ships at risk. By nightfall all vessels were at anchor anchored alongside HMS Supply.

‘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 February’. Marine Captain Watkin Tench, Sydney’s First Four Years, ed. F.L.Fitzhardinge, Angus and Robertson, 1961

See: Only Men? Aside from seagulls how many white birds were on the ground @ Sydney Cove on 26 January 1788 – None

1788 – January, February Sydney Cove: Over the following ten (10 days) marines and convicts found their land legs and began the ‘pressing business’ of setting up a tent town, unloading stores digging a garden, fire-pits and latrines.

1788 – 6 February: Beginning at 6am the fleet’s female convict component one hundred and ninety (190) and their children  together with thirty-one (31) marine wives their children were rowed ashore.

By the time the last landed around 6pm a fierce storm was building. The night brought terror. Thunder, terrible lightning and a ‘sexual orgy‘. See: Brokeback Mountain

1788 – 7 February: The following day with fixed bayonets soldiers herded the prisoners into in a circle. The band struck up with music ‘suited to the business’.

Marines sweltering in heavy scarlet uniforms paraded with the ‘pomp and circumstance of glorious war’.

We have come today to take possession of this fifth great continental division of the earth on behalf of the British people. I [Phillip] 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’. Judge-Advocate Marine Captain David Collins. Tench. op.cit.

Captain, now Governor Arthur Phillip RN, without consent of Australia’s First Peoples, or entering into treaty with them, claimed ownership of and British sovereignty over; ‘our territory called New South Wales…from Cape York…to South Cape’.

‘At the close three vollies were fired in honour of the occasion, and the Battalion then marched back to the parade, where they were reviewed by the Governor, who was received with all the honours due to his rank’.

Britain knows and Australia knows ‘how grand a prospect’ lay before the Peoples of this ancient land. By 1838:

‘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


1992:  Australia’s High Court decision (Mabo No. 2) ruled ‘terra nullius’ the legal tenet that underwrote Britain’s dispossession of the First Nations’ Peoples; ‘the Aborigines were never in possession of the land’ to be ‘legal fiction’.

The Court however upheld the ‘factual error’ there was ‘no settled law’. See: A Cracker-Jack Opinion – Your Land Is My Land

UK – Cooper V Stuart (1899) 14 App. Cas. 286:There is a great difference between the case of a colony acquired by conquest or cession, in which there is an established system of law, and that of a colony which consisted of a tract or territory practically unoccupied with settled inhabitants, or settled law, at the time when it was peacefully annexed to the British dominion. The colony of New South Wales belongs to the latter case’. Cited, R.D. Lumb, The Constitutions of the Australian States. University of Queensland Press, 3rd ed. 1972

 ‘Conquest or cession’?

‘The Old Privy Council decision in Cooper V Stuart [1889] was based on the factual errors that Australia was peacefully settled and the Aborigines were never in possession of the land. That case was also inconsistent with the common law decisions of the United States, Canada, and New Zealand. In short, it was wrongly decided’. Professor Bruce Kercher, An Unruly Child, A History of Law in Australia, Allen and Unwin, Sydney, 1994

Australia’s First Nations’ Peoples did not cede their lands. ‘New South Wales was [not] peacefully annexed to the British Dominions’.

2019 – December, Brexit: As Great Britain moves closer to fragmentation she faces a double whammy because the question of Succession is perilously near at hand. Countless Wars of Succession in European history are drenched with the blood of fathers V sons, sons V fathers, sisters V sisters and in – laws V in-laws.

The peoples of England, Northern Ireland, Scotland, Wales and the current outrider – Republic of Ireland – were all part of Australia’s conqueror- settler-mix and as such were part of the disaster visited upon Australia’s First Nations’ Peoples. As a matter of urgency Australia’s High Court must address ‘wrongly decided’ – ‘New South Wales was peacefully annexed to the British Dominions’?

‘To be ignorant of what occurred before you were born is to remain always a child’. Cicero, Marcus Tullius’ Cited Jonathan Holslag, A Political History of the World’.

xxxxxPart of the Blainey quote      Eden [William Eden – later Lord Auckland] was probably not in that secretive circle’.

 New Holland would give Britain ish dominance over a southern sea-route, via tumultuous Drake’s Passage, that rendered American ‘treasure‘ colonies, p.

‘Here too, the culminating point in a century-long race was reached, with Britain emerging in 1815 with a position so strengthened that she appeared to be the only real colonial power’. Kennedy. op.cit 





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