Posts Tagged ‘Frenchmens Bay’

CAPTAIN ARTHUR PHILLIP & COMTE JEAN-FRANCOIS A BAND OF BROTHERS AND MORTAL ENEMIES

Tuesday, March 14th, 2017

‘All was set in the mid-eighteenth century scene, the contest between Great Britain and the Bourbon powers…different branches of the family of Louis XVI…for sea supremacy and oceanic empire, which was the background of the life of every sailor of Cook’s Age’. J.A Williamson, Cook and the Opening of the Pacific, Hodder & Stoughton , London 1946

1785 and the race for New Holland was on. Britain having just lost the American War of Independence (1775-1783) and the thirteen (13) colonies that made up her ’empire in the west’ had missed the jump in the race to establish ‘sea supremacy’ in the Indian and Southern Oceans.

Brest – 1785, August 1: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’. Michael Cannon, Australian Discovery and Exploration, 1987

Portsmouth – 1787, May 13: The ‘First Fleet, a large armed convoy of eleven (11) ships with a complement of upwards of 1500 souls, one-half convicted criminals ‘rationed as troops serving in the West Indies‘, commanded by Captain Arthur Phillip RN, sailed from England on 13th May 1787 to invade the island continent of New Holland, now Australia.

Fully funded by government the ‘First Fleet’ was an invasion fleet; ‘but not a hint of it shall ever transpire’. Anon, Historical Records of New South Wales

Botany Bay –  January 18/20:  Within thirty-six (36) hours, after eight (8) months voyaging across 13,000 miles (21,000 km) of ‘imperfectly explored oceans’, the English convoy found safe anchorage in Botany Bay between 18 to 20 January 1788.

21 January: Next day Phillip with Captain  Hunter RN and other officers and marines set off in three (3) smalls ship’s boat to search for what in 1770 Captain Cook had named  ‘Port Jackson’.

Nine (9) miles (14 km) north of Botany Bay they found and entered its towering headlands into a magnificent harbour of it Phillip wrote ‘here a Thousand Sail of the Line may ride in the most perfect Security’.

Sydney Cove: ‘Four (4) miles’ within, from a myriad bays and inlets, Phillip settled on a ‘snug’ cove naming it after Lord Sydney.

23 January – Botany Bay: ‘The boats returned on the evening of the 23rd…it was determined the evacuation of Botany Bay should commence next morning’. Tench. ibid

24 January:  But ‘next morning ….suprize…at first I only laughed’ two (2) French ships La Boussole and L’Astrolabe,  under command of Jean-Francois La Perouse stood off the entrance to Botany Bay.

Contrary winds,churning seas and the Sirius’ menacing cannon, forced the French ships to seek shelter at Point Sutherland.

‘Consternation’ Captain Phillip had not raised ‘English Colours’ at Port Jackson. He needed to return there but was hampered by the bad weather.

25 January:   Not until after mid-day on 25th was he able to quit Botany Bay aboard HMS Supply arriving just on nightfall.

26 January – Sydney Cove:   At first light Phillip, his officers and marines landed.  A flag-staff was erected, the Union Jack of Queen hoisted and Governor Phillip proclaimed Britain’s victory over France.  See Australia – Britain By a Short Half-Head

Treacherous weather held up the English fleet’s departure from Botany Bay until the afternoon of the 26th when the fleet managed a dramatic exit and made for Sydney Cove.

Sudden wind ships and cross-currents very nearly cost lives and ships. Three (3) Charlotte, Friendship, Prince of Wales swung across each other and  came near to crashing onto rocks.

HMS Sirius was last of the fleet to leave. Captain John Hunter RN stayed to guide L’Astrolabe and La Boussole to safe anchorage in Botany Bay at a spot known today as Frenchmens Bay.

 By 6 pm on the evening of the 26th all English ships lay at anchor alongside HMS Supply.

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