Posts Tagged ‘arthur phillip’


Tuesday, April 9th, 2019

‘For a brief moment there was hope…within a matter of years violence had broken out on both sides and Phillip would now instruct raiding parties to bring back the severed heads of warriors. The birth of Australia was meant to be so different…it need not have been this way’. Stan Grant, Talking to My Country, Text Publishing, 2017

2019: So why is Australia ‘this way’ a divided nation? A white first world dominating a third world defined by colour and hue and seen by the ‘entitled’ white world as a liability.  See: G is for Genocide- Colonial Breeding

‘Phillip…had instructions to deal with the ‘natives’ with ‘amity and kindness’. Professsor Larissa Behrendt, The Honest History Book, – Invasion or Settlement, NewSouth Press, 2017   

What went so wrong with the deal; ‘within a generation the heads of Aborigines were shipped to Britain in glass cases to be studied as relics of a doomed race’. Grant. ibid.

London: In 1838 a Select Committee of the British Parliament; ‘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. Lord John Russell to [Governor] Sir George Gipps, 21 December, 1838. Historical Records of New South Wales Vol.1

So what flipped the switch from ‘amity and kindness’ to ‘nasty’ creeping frontier wars that by 1838 had brought about the near destruction of ‘that unfortunate race…the Aborigines of New Holland’?

Two (2) First Nations’ authors, Stan Grant and Larissa Behrendt, have honed in on a critical pinch-point that occurred in the first decade of Britain’s occupation of New Holland.

Although ‘amity kindness’ were the ‘weasel-words’ of their day, both Behrendt and Grant are satisfied Governor Phillip took the concept seriously. That was until December 1790 when Phillip’s absolute loyalty to ‘King and Country’ trumped ‘amity and kindness’.



Wednesday, October 17th, 2018

‘The essentials of Britain’s foreign policy are bound to be basically two; trade and defence, particularly the defence of trade. There is no hard and fast line between foreign policy and other aspects of policy; domestic, economic and colonial’. C.M. Woodhouse, British Foreign Policy since WW II, 1961

As the 1600s morphed into the 1700s science progressed and maritime technology advanced exploration. Competing territorial and trade ambitions burgeoned throughout Europe, none as fierce as those between traditional enemies Britain and France.

Frenchmen – Lozier Bouvet, Yves de Kerguele, Jean-Francois-Marie de Surville and Louis-Antoine Bougainville and Englishmen -William Dampier, Samuel Wallis, John Byron and James Cook shadowed each other across the world’s oceans.

1770 – New Holland: England’s Lieutenant James Cook RN landed at Botany Bay in April 1770 and planted a tenuous foothold on the island continent of New Holland.



Wednesday, July 11th, 2018

‘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 Australia, Allen and Unwin, 1995

1790 – 13 December, Sydney Headquarters:‘ Put to death ten…bring in the heads of the slain…bring in two prisoners…I am resolved to execute the prisoners…in the most public and exemplary manner, in the presence of as many of their countrymen as can be collected’. Governor Phillip, General Orders to Captain Tench, cited, Marine Captain Watkin Tench, Sydney’s First Four Years, ed. F.L. Fitzhardinge, Angus and Robertson, Sydney, 1961

Phillip’s orders put no limit on barbarity. The reason Phillip gave for his ‘indiscriminate and disproportionate’ directive was the spearing of convict John M’Entyre by the warrior Pemulwuy that took place at Botany Bay in the early hours of 10 December 1790.

‘On the 9th of the month, a serjeant of marines, with three [3] convicts, among whom was M’Entire, the governor’s game-keeper (the person of whom Baneelon had, on former occasions, shewn so much dread and hatred) went out on a shooting party’. Tench. ibid.

Kidnapped in December 1789 Bennalong had been held captive within British lines until he escaped in May 1790. Bennalong was the source of Phillip’s intelligence ‘dread and hatred’.   See: Kidnapped – Manly What’s In A Name



Wednesday, July 11th, 2018

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 [Australia’s European] history – Horotio Nelson, William Bligh and Arthur Phillip. Andrew Tink, Life and Times of Tommy Townshend, 2001

Admiral Nelson tangentially, Governor Phillip and Governor Bligh profoundly, have links to the fate of Australia’s First Peoples as does John ‘MacMafia’ Macarthur.

Captain Trail master of the second fleet death ship Neptune a convict transport of ‘Britain’s Grim Armada’ appeared at the Old Bailey accused of the brutal mistreatment of prisoners and murder of two (2) Neptune crewmen. It is believed Horotio Nelson’s favourable character reference led to Trail’s acquittal. See: A Tale of Two Fleets

‘There would be ‘some justification for the saying that England won Australia by six days’. Edward Jenks, History of Australian Colonies, cited Hugh E. Egerton, British Colonial Policy, Metheun, 1928

In January 1788 Captain Arthur Phillip RN, master-spy, master-mariner, master-strategist pulled off ‘a special project’ for the Home Office. In the race for New Holland he beat France to the punch.

Governor Phillip in mid December 1790 introduced ‘universal terror’ into the Aboriginal, non-Aboriginal equation.  See: A Hatchet Job – Kill 6 & Cut Off Their Heads

‘Macarthur’s haughty quarrelsome nature which manifested itself on the voyage was to provoke much more conflict after his arrival in New South Wales in June 1790’. Michael Flynn, The Second Fleet, Britain’s Grim Armada of 1790, Library of Australian History, Sydney 1993

Lieutenant John Macarthur a junior officer of the New South Wales Infantry Corps arrived in Sydney aboard Scarborough, one (1) of three (3) death ships of ‘Britain’s Grim Armada.

In August 1806 Captain William ‘Bounty’ Bligh RN arrived to take up his commission as Britain’s fourth ‘autocratic naval governor’ of New South Wales.

On 26 January 1808, at the instigation John Macarthur an ex-officer of the Corps,  the military seized and imprisoned Governor William Bligh RN. See: Australia Day Rebellion 26 January 1808


‘Parallel to, and dependent upon, the Anglo-French duel for command of the sea went their struggle for overseas bases and colonies; 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 in the world’. Paul Kennedy, The Rise and Fall of British Naval Mastery, Fontana Press, 3rd ed. London, 1976

1785 – August, France: New Holland, now Australia, was all about global warfare.  In 1785 Arthur Phillip, hidden in shadows, watched as Comte Jean-Francois La Perouse in command of La Boussole with L’Astrolabe, sailed from Brest naval base on a wide-ranging expeditionary voyage.

Modelled on the voyages of Captain James Cook, doyen of Britain’s Royal Navy, the La Perouse voyage was intended to take three (3) years and to include New Holland.

1786 – 6 August, London: Following an attempt to assassinate King George III, ‘fear of the unruly mob’, fuelled by memory of the Gordon Riots (1780), reached fever-pitch among England’s elite.

1786 – August, Brazil: Phillip was in Rio de Janeiro keeping track of La Perouse when called on by the Admiralty to return home and head Britain’s race for New Holland. See: Arthur Phillip – The Spy Who Never Came In From The Cold  

1786 – 12 October, Court of St James: ‘George III & to our trusty and well-beloved Captain Arthur Phillip, We, reposing especial trust and confidence in your loyalty, courage and experience in military affairs constitute and appoint you to be Governor our territory called New South Wales’. Historical Records of New South Wales

1787 – 25 April, London: The future fate of Australia’s First Nations’ Peoples was sealed in London on 25 April, 1787; ‘Under our Great Seal constituting and appointing you [Arthur Phillip] to be our Captain-General and Governor- in-Chief of our territory called New South Wales the entire eastern coast of New Holland…Cape York to South Cape’.

‘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’. Kennedy. op.cit

France, not America’s Patriot rebels , had been largely responsible for Britain’s loss of her ;thirteen [13] middle colonies’ in the American War of Independence 1775-1783.

Following the British navy’s humiliating defeat at the hands of the French navy the ‘duel for command of the sea’ never ceased. Britain’s 1788 invasion of New Holland was ‘predictable’. 

Within five (5) years – 1793 – Britain and France were at war. That conflict morphed into twenty-five (25) years of global warfare – the French Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars 1793-1815.

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

With New Holland Britain gained secure alternate strategic and logistical sea-routes to and from India and Asia. The Southern Oceans not only had the potential to be a blockade-breaker in time of war the route opened a long sought opportunity to attack Spain’s Central and South American treasure colonies.

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

All males – convicts and marines – were rationed as ‘troops serving in the West Indies’. See: All The King’s Men The Criminals of the First Fleet 

1788 – January, Botany Bay: The large convoy with a complement of 1500 souls – 1300 men and 200 women – reached Botany Bay between 18-20 of January 1788. See: G for Genocide- Colonial breeders

1788 – 24 January, Botany Bay: Three (3) days later L’Astrolabe and La Boussole with La Perouse at the helm arrived at the entrance to  Botany Bay. The sight of Sirius  gun-ports open cannon at the ready, forced them back out to sea.

‘He [Phillip] ordered a party to be  sent to Point Sutherland to raise English Colours. He also stipulated that the move to Port Jackson be kept secret’. John Moore, The First Fleet Marines 1786-1792, Queensland University Press, 1987

But had La Perouse sailed north or south?

Phillip knew it was essential he get back to Port Jackson. Three (3) days earlier, 21 January, he had entered that vast harbour but did not raise ‘English Colours’.

If La Perouse went north and happened upon the harbour’s towering headlands, he would be first to raise ‘French Colours’ ‘[w]here ‘a thousand Ship of the Line may ride in perfect Security’.

But given the disposition of the protagonists, apart from rumours, the world may never have known La Boussole and L’Astrolabe  had reached New Holland. See: A Band of Brothers and Mortal Enemies.

1788 – 25 January, Port Jackson: Phillip quit Botany Bay aboard HMS Supply, sailed nine (9) miles (14km) north. Just on nightfall, Supply entered Port Jackson and anchored in a sheltered cove.

1788 – 26 January, Sydney Cove: Next morning at first light Phillip landed with a party of marines. A flag-pole was built and the Union Jack flown. See: Australia – Britain By A Short Half-Head

‘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 Berendt, The Honest History Book, Ed. David Stephens & Alison Broinowski, NewSouth Publishing, Sydney, 2017

By 8pm that night, after a hazardous exit from Botany Bay that put both ships and lives at risk, the entire English fleet was riding at anchor alongside Supply.

1788 – 27 January – 5 February: For ten (10) days in the intense heat and humidity of a Sydney February male convicts judged fit laboured under the lash to set up camp.

1788 – 6 February, Sydney Cove: Between 6 am and 6 pm on February 6 the fleet’s female complement – one hundred and eighty-nine (189) female prisoners – thirty- one (31) marine wives and, children of both, were rowed ashore from what had been their home for the best part of a year.

That dark and stormy night it is said a noisy ‘sexual orgy’ took place. Two hundred (200) women a heterosexual ‘orgy’ probably – 1300 men – homosexual certainly.

1788 – 7 February, Port Jackson: Captain, now Governor Phillip, per instructions issued him at the Court of St. James on 25 April 1787,  based on ‘legal fiction’‘ terra nullius’  the country had no inhabitants, proceeded to claim British sovereignty over ‘the entire eastern coast of New Holland from Cape York…to South Cape’.See: A Cracker-Jack Opinion – no Sweat

1788 – 10 March, Botany Bay:  A month later La Boussole and L’Astrolabe sailed for France, sadly La Perouse and his men were never seen again. See: A Band of Brothers & Mortal Enemies

Phillip had been told before leaving England more convicts and supplies would ‘shortly follow’. The first night out from Cape Town (13 November 1787) on the last leg of the voyage, great excitement, HMS Sirius spotted a ship flying ‘English Colours’.

Disappointment; she turned out to be Kent a whaler. Relief Kent signalled more ships were ‘being taken up for Botany Bay’.

Nothing could have been further from the truth. Dr John White, the Chief Medical Officer, via a convict transport returning to England in July of 1788, sent Lord Sydney a revealing dispatch. See: Abandoned and left to starve at Sydney Cove January 1788 to June 1790 

‘The prevalence of disease among the troops and convicts, who on landing [January] were tainted with scurvy…our situation, not having any fresh animal food, nor being able to make a change in the diet which has and must be salt meat, makes these things [medicines] more necessary here than, perhaps, in any quarter of the globe’. John White to Lord Sydney, Historical Records of New South Wales See: An Evacuation – Saving Lieutenent William Collins

1788 – September, Africa: When no supplies had arrived by the end of August 1788 Phillip ordered Captain John Hunter prepare Sirius for a  voyage to Africa where he was to buy food and medicines from the Dutch.

1788 – 2 October, Cape Town: Sirius sailed alone on a perilous passage to the Cape of Good Hope at the beginning of October 1788. The voyage took her deep into the Southern Oceans dodging ‘islands of ice’ – through the ferocious seas of Drake’s Passage – to round stormy Cape Horn.

1788 – 31 December, Manly: Meantime at Sydney with ‘famine approaching’ Phillip needed; ‘to learn whether or not the country possessed any resources, by which life might be prolonged’. To that end he ordered the kidnapping of Aboriginal men.

Two (2) warriors ‘enticed by courteous behaviour’ were seized. One (1) broke free and fled. The other Arabanoo ‘fastened by ropes to the thwarts of the boat’ was rowed across to Sydney where he was kept a prisoner within British lines. See: Kidnapped – Manly – What’s in a Name


‘It is true that our surgeons had brought out variolous matter in bottles’. Captain Watkin Tench, Sydney’s First Four Years, ed. F.L. Fitzhardinge , Angus and Robertson, 1961

1789 – April, Sydney: Smallpox struck local Aborigines in April 1789 killing 50% of their number. Arabanoo was among them. See: Smallpox -A Lethal Weapon Boston 1775 – Sydney 1789

‘Not one case of the disorder occurred among the white people either afloat or on shore although there were several children in the settlement; but a North American Indian…took the disease and died’. Samuel Bennett, Australian Discovery and Colonisation, Volume 1 to 1800, facsimile edition 1981 See: Joseph Jefferies – From New York to Rio and Old Sydney Town – One – Then There Was None

1789 – April, Sydney: Sirius returned from Africa with medicines and 127,000 pounds of flour intended for the two (2) king’s ships and what could be spared for the colony.

1789 – 31 December, Manly: ‘Famine was approaching with gigantic strides’.  Phillip again turned to kidnapping. Bennalong and Colbee, both now heavily pockmarked were seized.

Colbee still ‘with a small iron ring round his leg’ escaped after a week and surveillance was stepped up on Bennalong. See: Manly Location, Location, Location


1790 – 1 January,, Sydney: ‘We have been entirely cut off, no communication whatever having passed with our native country since the 13th May, 1787 the day of our departure from Portsmouth…in which long period no supplies…had reached us’. Tench. ibid.

A look-out was erected on South Head; ‘here on the summit of the hill every morning from daylight until the sun sank did we sweep the horizon hope of seeing a sail’ all to no avail.

1790 – February, China: Tench; ‘vigorous measures were become indispensable…The governor, early in February, ordered the Sirius [Captain Hunter] to prepare for a voyage to China’.

1790 – 6 March, Norfolk Island: In early March with cooler weather fish left the harbour to spawn. HMS Sirius accompanied by HMS Supply evacuated 50% of Sydney’s starving white European population to Norfolk Island.

Sirius was then to sail onto China and arrange rescue.

1790 – 19 March, Norfolk Island: Sirius had unloaded her evacuees and most supplies when, caught by shifting winds, she swung wildly on her anchor and ran onto a submerged reef.

Held fast ‘in pounding surf’, Sirius broke up over a number of days. The crew, one hundred and sixty (160) naval personnel, were taken off but were now stranded on the island along with the evacuees.

‘Flags Up’ – Supply

1790 – 5 April, Sydney: ‘The flag on the South-head was hoisted…I [Tench] saw captain Ball make an extraordinary motion with his hand, which too plainly indicated that something disastrous had happened’. Tench. ibid.

Disaster – there would be no China rescue.

1790 – 6 April, Sydney:to every child of more than eighteen [18] months old and to every grown person [ration] to commence immediately, two pounds of pork, two pounds and a half of flour, two pounds or rice, or a quart of [dried] pease, per week [and] bring your own bread…even to the governor’s table’. Tench. ibid.

It’s now about two years and three months since we first arrived at this distant country; all this while we have been buried alive, never having the opportunity to hear from our friends…our hopes are now almost vanished’. Reverend Richard Johnson, cited Jack Egan, Buried Alive Sydney 1788-1792, Allen & Unwin, 1999

Governor Phillip had no alternate but to send HMS Supply to Batavia, modern-day Jakarta. She was to buy food and medicines and hire a Dutch ship to bring them to Sydney. See: Missing In Action – HMS Sirius & HMS Supply

1790 – 17 April, Batavia:Supply sailed for Batavia…and all our labour and attention were turned on one object – the procuring of food’. The distress of the lower classes for clothes were almost equal to their other wants’. Tench. ibid.

1790 – May: Bennalong managed to escape and returned to his family.

During his five (5) months in captivity, Phillip and Bennalong learned a lot about and from each other. One thing Phillip learned from Bennalong ‘dread and hatred’ would prove invaluable to him.

1790 3 June – ‘Flag’s up – with London on her stern’

1790 3 June: Tench; ‘at length the clouds of misfortune began to separate and on the evening of the 3d of June, the joyful cry of “the flag’s up” resounded in every direction’.

Lady Juliana with two hundred and twenty-six (226) ‘useless female’ prisoners broke the terrible silence. Not until June 1790 did the First Fleet castaways hear ‘news’ of their ‘native country’.

Of family, lovers, friends, of conflict with Spain, the ‘Madness of King George’, of revolution in France and impending war between these arch-enemies.

Dubbed the ‘Brothel Ship’ Lady Juliana  was first of four (4) ships of a second fleet ‘Britain’s Grim Armada’.

Government awarded the contract for Neptune, Scarborough, Suprize the fleet’s death ships to Camden, Calvert and King, a firm of Guinea slave traders working out of London.

One-quarter ‘of 1038 [mainly male] convicts embarked at Plymouth; 237 died on the voyage, 486 landed sick, of these 124 died in hospital at Sydney’. Charles Bateson, The Convict Ships 1787-1868, Brown, Son & Ferguson, Glasgow, 1959 See: Convict Transportation – The Hulks Act and When the mindset of Slavery Came to Australia

One hundred and fifteen (115) infantry troops, first contingent of the New South Wales Infantry Corps, were distributed throughout the three (3) ships. They included Lieutenant John Macarthur a junior officer, a man of overarching personal ambition, who would rightly earn his nick-name ‘The Perturbator’. See: Macarthur The Great Disrupter

1790 – 30 June, Sydney: Justinian the first relief store-ship from England arrived at the end of June 1790. See: Titanic – HMS Guardian Australia’s Titanic

‘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. Lord John Russell to Sir George Gipps, 21 December 1838, Historical Records of Australia, Series 1. Vol. XX

1790 – 7 September, Manly Beach: On a warm spring morning, three (3) months after John Macarthur’s arrival, a ‘monster’ whale beached at Manly. It proved to be the catalyst that changed the ‘condition’ and future ‘prospects’ of Australia’s First Nations’ Peoples.

The whale stranding caused great excitement in both camps. For local Aborigines it was their totem and held deep cultural and spiritual significance, prefacing as it did the return of summer’s abundance.

For Phillip, whose salt-water career began hunting whale in the icy Arctic, its presence evoked intense interest.  See: Arthur Phillip – Trade and the Defence of Trade

‘The Act of 1786 [Geo.III. c.59] for the Encouragement of the Southern Whale Fishery proved to be the foundation of an important industry…in the wake of whalers other British traders would follow. The furtherance of this plan became one of the central objects of Lord Hawkesbury’s commercial policy’. Vincent T. Harlow, Founding of the Second British Empire 1763-1793, Longmans, London, 1964

Phillip was well aware, foremost among the various plans that Prime Minister William Pitt and his ‘secretive inner circle’ of three (3) powerful politicians – Hawkesbury, Dundas and Mulgrave – had for New Holland, the establishment of a land base to support a ship-based whaling and sealing industry was high on the list.

Phillip, anxious to see if the ‘monster’ was a prized sperm whale, was rowed across to Manly where he met up with Bennalong. The two (2) men had not seen each other since Bennalong’s escape from custody. See: Kidnapped – Manly What’s in a Name

1790 – 7 September, Manly: Tench sets the scene. After some hesitation on Bennalong’s part; ‘they discoursed for some time, Baneelon expressing pleasure to see his old acquaintance…the governor… to try whether it [Bennalong’s love of wine] still subsisted, uncorked a bottle, and poured out a glass of it, which the other drank off with his former marks of relish and good humour, giving a toast, as he had been taught, ‘the King‘.

That done Phillip moved nearer the whale; ‘a native, [Wileemarin] with a spear in his hand came forward…His excellency held out his hand…advancing…the nearer, the governor approached, the greater became the terror and agitation of the Indian.

To remove his fear, governor Phillip threw down a dirk, he wore at his side…the other, alarmed at the rattle of the dirk and probably misconstruing the action, instantly fixed his lance, aimed his lance with force and dexterity striking the governor’s right shoulder, just above the collar bone’. Tench. ibid.

The spear could not be removed then and there but Midshipman Waterhouse manage to break off the long shaft. Phillip endured two (2) agonising hours as he was rowed across seven (7) miles of choppy waters to Sydney where surgeon William Balmain extracted the lance. Phillip had lost a lot of blood leaving him weak so recovery was slow.

Phillip knew in ‘throw[ing] down the dirk’ he had contributed to Willeemrin’s attack and ordered there be no reprisals.

 ‘What is the most arresting thing in all these recordings is the way in which they perceive Aboriginal Australians on not exactly equal terms, but on terms of people who have a right to the occupancy of this land’. Dr Nicholas Brown, Australian National University and National Museum of Australia, on the inclusion of some ‘First Fleet’ Journals onto UNESCO’s World Heritage List. ABC – AM Programme, 15 October 2009

Phillip’s ‘no reprisals’ decision supercharged a change in attitude. The commander of the New South Wales Corps, Major Francis Grose, had elected to stay in London and recruit to satisfy establishment requirements.

A junior officer Lieutenant John Macarthur ruthless, driven by over-arching personal ambition, aided by dissension among his fellow officers, moved swiftly to fill the power vacuum created by Grose’s absence.See: Sword and Word Both are Mighty- Governor Arthur Phillip’s Military Campaign For King and Country

Flags Up’  – HMS Supply

Since 1788 the English population, men women and children, had survived by raping the Aborigines’ resources. Scouring the bush taking their plants and vegetables. Shooting anything that moved or flew and trawling for fish, taking up ‘four hundred-weight’ at a time.

With Supply gone there could be no trawling starvation deepened; ‘to prolong existence…the best marksmen of the marines and convicts…put under the command of a trusty serjeant, with directions to range the woods in search of kangaroos’. Tench. ibid.

1790 – 19 October, Sydney: Six (6) months almost to the day from her departure Supply returned from Jakarta.

Sadly elation was touched with grief. Many crew contracted malaria and were buried at Jakarta. Lieutenant Newton Fowell, the fleet’s young letter-writer who then a midshipman, had sailed in the Sirius on her epic voyage of circumnavigation to and from Africa, had been buried at sea.

Lieutenant Ball, as Phillip instructed, had purchased tons of supplies and chartered a Dutch ship Waaksamheyd to bring them to Sydney. Supply herself brought as much flour and medicines as the tiny ship could carry but certainly not enough to make much difference to the starving Sydney settlement.

‘On the 9th of the month [December 1790], serjeant of marines, with three convicts, among whom was M’Entire, the governor’s game-keeper (the person of whom Baneelon had, on former occasions, shewn so much dread and hatred) went out on a shooting party [to Botany Bay]’. Tench. ibid.

1790 – 10 December, Botany Bay: Tench was told in the early hours; ‘one of them [Aborigines] launched his spear at M’Entire and lodged it in his left side. The person who committed this wanton act, was described as a young man, with a speck, or blemish, on his left eye’.

The ‘young man’ was Pemulwuy.

‘But in this business of M’Entire I [Phillip] am fully persuaded that they [Aborigines] were unprovoked, and the barbarity of their conduct admits of no extenuation’.

Phillip’s ‘but‘ referenced his ‘own spearing’ by Willmeerin at Manly Beach in September 1790. His refusal to retaliate was seized upon by ‘certain officers’. Phillip’s reluctance created a perfect storm.

With ‘New Holland’ at stake Phillip was intent on saving the Sydney settlement from insurrection and anarchy. Bennalong’s intelligence ‘dread and hatred’ was the only arrow in Phillip’s quiver.

He sacrificed McIntyre to create a diversion and assert his authority over the enemy within ‘certain [corps] officers’. His response to McIntyre’s spearing ‘infuse universal terror’ was that of a proven strategist whose loyalty to King and Country was non-negotiable.  See: John M’Entire – Death of a Sure Thing

1790 – 13 December, Headquarters:His excellency pitched upon me [Tench]…be ready to march tomorrow morning at daylight to execute the…command…put ten (10) to death…bring in the heads of the slain…bring away two (2)prisoners…I [Phillip] am resolved to execute the prisoners…in the most public and exemplary manner, in the presence of as many of their countrymen as can be collected’. Governor Phillip, General  Orders, to Marine Captain Watkin Tench.

1790 – 14 December, Botany Bay: At first light ‘we marched’. After three (3) days thrashing about in the muddy flats of Cooks River the detachment turned for home with no ‘heads’ – no ‘prisoners’.

1790 – 17 December, Sydney: ‘Between one and two o’clock in the afternoon…we were glad to find ourselves at Sydney’.

Tench’s ‘glad’ is an understatement. At dawn that morning – 17 December 1790 – the Waaksamheyd arrived from Jakarta. The air filled  with the heady smells of cooking, the landing stage already crammed with barrels and bales.

1790 – 20 December: ‘Our first expedition having so totally failed, the governor resolved to try the fate of a second; and the ‘painful pre-eminence’ again devolved on me. The orders under which I [Tench] was commanded to act differing in no respect from the last’.

Why did Governor Phillip order another raid against the Bidjigal of Botany Bay?

Phillip knew Waaksamheyd was a double edged sword. As well as food she brought hope. An opportunity to seize the vessel, a chance  to escape – either or both.

The Sirius cannon now came into play. Removed in 1788 to lighten the load on her gallant run to Cape Town they had been mounted at Dawes Battery (Observatory Hill). See: Lieutenant William Dawes & The Eternal Flame

In the hands of the few dependable naval men available to Phillip, Sirius’ cannon took the seizure of Waaksamheyd out of the equation. Escape however was realised. See: A Great Escape – The Botany Bay Escapees


‘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

Just as in June 1914 a shot fired on a Sarajevo street began the count-down to World War I, a spear thrown on Manly Beach in September 1790 began the count-down to a ‘nasty war that led to the near destruction of Australia’s First Peoples.

‘The tremendous monster who had occasioned the unhappy catastrophe just recorded [Phillip’s spearing] was fated to be the cause of further mischief… Tench. ibid.

Governor Phillip’s perceived passivity had presented ‘certain officers’ with an opportunity for ‘mischief’ insurrection. Phillip judged his position, isolated in a sea of hostile military, would prove too great an opportunity for Lieutenant Macarthur and his cronies to pass up .See: Machiavellian Macarthur


‘Twenty-five 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 1790-1868, Kangaroo Press, Sydney 1986

Governor Phillip’s Orders placed no limit on brutality. ‘Infuse universal terror and my [Phillip] fixed determination to repeat it whenever any future breach of good conduct on their side, shall render it necessary’.

They served as the ‘Rules of Engagement’ in a ‘frontier war’ Dr Stanley has characterised as ‘nasty and decidedly lacking in glory’.

‘Still it is impossible that H.M. government should forget that the original aggression was ours’. Lord John Russell. Records. ibid

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


Wednesday, June 6th, 2018

‘The poor aborigines were quickly reduced to a state of starvation, and it is believed that many of them actually perished for want of food during the first few months of the occupation of their country’. Samuel Bennett, Australian Discovery and Colonisation, Vol 1 – 1800, facsimile ed. 1981

Documentary evidence supports the claim that Governor Phillip expected logistical support to reach him soon after the ‘First Fleet’ expeditionary force reached its destination but the expected ships never came.

1788 – July, Sydney:  ‘They [Aborigines] are now much distressed for food, few fish are caught & I am told that many of them appear on the Beach where the Boats  go to haul the Seins [trawling nets], very weak & anxious to get the small fish, of which they make no account in the Summer nor can we give them much assistance as very few fish are now caught, & we have many sick’. Arthur Phillip to Joseph Banks, 2 July 1788. Oxford Book of Australian Letters, ed. Brenda Niall, John Thompson, 1998   

The direst consequences of Britain’s callous abandonment of her country-men fell on the Aborigines of the Sydney area who; ‘were quickly reduced to a state of starvation’. See: Abandoned and Left to Starve Sydney Cove January 1788 to June 1790


1790 – I January: ‘From the intelligence of our friends and connections we had 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. We had now been two years in the country and thirty-two months  in which long period no supplies had reached us from England. from Portsmouth. Famine besides was approaching with gigantic strides’. Tench. ibid.    

Britain’s abandonment of the ‘First Fleet’ amounted to treachery. What was devastating for the English was catastrophic for Australia’s First Peoples. See: Arthur Phillip – Hung Out to Dry



Sunday, March 25th, 2018

‘In war the trophy head is a mark of supremacy and respect’. Frances Larson, Severed, Granta, 2015

1790 – 13 December, Sydney Cove: ‘The author of this publication [Captain Watkin Tench] received a direction to attend the governor [Arthur Phillip] at head quarters immediately.

I went, and his excellency informed me, that he had pitched upon me to execute the foregoing command…infuse universal terror…convince them of our superiority… if practicable, to bring away two [2] natives as prisoners and to put to death ten [10]. That we were to cut off, and bring in the heads of the slain, for which purpose, hatchets and bags would be furnished.

We were to proceed to the north arm of the [Botany] bay…destroy all weapons of war: no hut was to be burned: that all women and children were to remain uninjured’.  Marine Captain Watkin, Sydney’s First Four Years, ed. F.L. Fitzhadinge, Angus and Robertson, 1961

Can we know what drove Governor Phillip’s ferocity? Yes we can – simmering rebellion centred on ‘certain  officers’ of the newly arrived New South Wales Corps (June 1790)  in particular Lieutenant John Macarthur.



Tuesday, March 6th, 2018

‘In November [1784] Henry Dundas, possibly Pitt’s closest advisor, warned that ‘India is the first quarter to be attacked, we must never lose sight of keeping such a force there as well be sufficient to baffle or surprise’. Dundas, cited Michael Pembroke, Arthur Phillip Sailor Mercenary Governor Spy, Harper Grant Books, Victoria, 2013

It was generally held until quite recently that Captain Arthur Phillip RN was ‘plucked from obscurity’ to command the ‘First Fleet’. But like ‘amity and kindness’, Australia’s foundation myth – benign colonisation – ‘U.K. Privy Council [11] Cooper V Stuart [1889] New South Wales…peacefully annexed’ – nothing could be further from the truth.

‘New Holland is a blind then, when we want to add to the military strength of India…I need not enlarge on the benefit of stationing a large body of troops in New South Wales’. Anon, Historical Records of Australia

The key to the success of the ‘First Fleet’ was laid a decade earlier during Arthur Phillip’s four (4) year sojourn in Brazil. Seconded to the Portuguese Navy, based in Rio de Janeiro and fluent in Portuguese, Phillip had established good relations with Viceroy Lavradio.

When in August 1787 the fleet en-route to Botany Bay put into Rio for supplies Phillip found Marquess Vasconcelos, Lavradio’s successor,  too held him in high regard.

In the race for New Holland this proved vital to Britain’s victory over France on the cusp of ‘the greatest event of the late eighteenth century’  the French Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars – February 1793 to June 1815. See: Britain By A Short Half-Head Arthur Phillip and Jean Francois La Perouse

The win guaranteed Britain domination of the southern oceans and ease of access to India and its ample supply of one of the world’s most sought after natural resources. See: All that Glitters is not Gold (Shortly)

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. Lord Sydney [the life and times of Tommy Townshend] Andrew Tink, 2011.



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



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 and it is impossible to believe he did not admire the gallant Frenchman who had a deserved reputation for compassion.



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