‘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

Why is Australia ‘this way’ a divided nation? See: G is for Genocide- Colonial Breeding

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

What had gone 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.

What flipped the switch from ‘amity and kindness’ to ‘nasty’ creeping frontier wars that by 1838 had brought about the near destruction of Australia’s First Nations?

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

First Nations’ authors, Stan Grant and Larissa Behrendt, hone in on a critical pinch-point that occurred in the first decade of Britain’s ‘original aggression’.

‘Military and police raids against dissenting Aboriginal groups lasted from the eighteenth to the twentieth centuries. These raids commenced by December 1790’. Professor Bruce Kercher, An Unruly Child, A History of the Law in Australia, Allen & Unwin, Sydney 1995

1787 – 25 April:  ‘You are to endeavour by every possible means to open an intercourse with the natives, and to conciliate their affections, enjoining all our subjects to live in amity and kindness with them’. Instructions to Governor, Captain Arthur Phillip RN, London 25 April 1787

Although ‘amity – kindness’ the political ‘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’.

1790 – December: On the 13th of December 1790 Governor Arthur Phillip RNissued Captain Watkin Tench General Orders to ‘instil universal terror’.

‘Bring in six [6] of those natives who reside near the head of Botany Bay, or if that number [6] should be found impractical…put that number to death…hatchets to cut off the heads…bags provided…bring in the heads of the slain…ropes to bind…bring away two [two] prisoners to execute in the most public and exemplary manner, in the presence of as many of their countrymen as can be collectedand my determination to repeat, it whenever any future breach of good conduct on their side, shall render it necessary’.


Kill ten…bring in the heads of the slain…bring away two prisoners to execute in the most public and exemplary manner in the presence of as many of their countrymen as can be collected…and my determination to repeat, it whenever any future breach of good conduct on their side, shall render it necessary’.


In November 1784 Henry Dundas, probably [Prime Minister] 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 will be sufficient to baffle or surprise’. Michael Pembroke, Arthur Phillip, Sailor, Mercenary, Governor, Spy, Hardie Grant Book, 2013

Post France’s defeat in the Seven Years’ War 1754-1763; ‘France and Spain were spoiling for a rematch with Great Britain‘. Larrie D. Ferreiro, Brothers at Arms,  American Independence and The Men of France and Spain Who Saved It.  Vintage Press, 2017 

America: That rematch came with the American War of Independence 1775-1783. Historians have recently posited General George Washington’s home-spun Patriot militia could not have defeated Britain without support from France and Spain.

French money, men and munitions won America her independence. France, buoyed by that success, turned eyes towards India seeking to regain what had been lost to France during the earlier conflict.


Paris – September 1783: Britain’s loss of her thirteen (13) American colonies via the Treaty of Versailles signed on 3rd of September 1783 making further conflict  between Britain and France inevitable.

Britain’s decision to invade New Holland sprang directly from her defeat in the American War of Independence (1775-1783). The establishment of a naval base in the Southern Ocean fell within the strategic planning arc for the 1793-1802 phase of the age-old Anglo-French- Spanish struggle for supremacy over both land and sea.

‘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 New South Wales, Vol 1.

In 1782, before the Treaty of Versailles was signed, Britain moved to take revenge on Spain for the loss of her American ‘Empire in the West’. See: Monte Video – Lord Sydney, Arthur Phillip & ‘ Hush Christopher Robin’ Mark 1

Governor Arthur Phillip RN in 1788 brought to New Holland secret plans to attack the then Spanish territories Monte Video and Beunos Aires. See: Botany Bay – Lord Sydney, Arthur Phillip &  ‘Hush Christopher Robin’ – Mark 2


‘Every morning from daylight until dusk’ from a look-out erected on South Head did we sweep the horizon in the hope of seeing a sail’. See: Abandoned and Left to Starve @ Sydney Cove January 1788 to June 1790

1790 – 1 January, Sydney:We the [Englishmen of the ‘First Fleet’] 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…starvation was approaching with gigantic strides…the misery and horror of such a situation cannot be imparted, even they those who have suffered under it. Marine Captain Watkin Tench, Sydney’s First Four Years, ed. F.L. Fitzhardinge, Angus and Robertson, 1961

The previous year, April-May 1789, smallpox had killed 50% of Sydney’s Aborigines.

‘[Yet] Not one case of the disorder occurred among the white people either afloat or on shore although there were several  [upwards of [50] children in the settlement’. Samuel Bennett. ibid. See: Smallpox – A Lethal Weapon Boston 1775 – Sydney 1789

The deaths took significant pressure off local food resources. See: Dead Aborigines Don’t Eat

Norfolk Island – March 1790:  Still no relief ships from England. Phillip drew on the 1789 smallpox experience and evacuated two hundred and eighty-one (281) of ‘his people’ men, women and children to Norfolk Island where, as early as February 1788, a satellite outpost had been established.

China – 6 March 1790: Sirius and Supply departed Sydney for Norfolk Island. It was planned HMS Sirius would, after landing her evacuees, sail onto China where Captain John Hunter RN was to buy food and arrange a rescue mission to save the Sydney settlement.

Norfolk Island – 19 March 1790: After safely unloading the evacuees Sirius was caught in ‘pounding surf on every side’. She swung on her anchor struck a submerged reef and sank. ‘Happily however’ Tench says ‘captain Hunter, and every other person belonging to her, were saved’.

One hundred and thirty (130) of her crew (160) were now marooned along with the evacuees.

Sydney – 5 April:  HMS Supply returned to Sydney on the 5th of April with the bad news – no China rescue.

Jakarta: Phillip ordered Supply sail to Batavia (modern -day Jakarta) to buy supplies and charter a large vessel to bring them to Sydney. It was a desperate move.  No Supply meant no trawling so even fewer fish. See: Missing in Action – HMS Sirius & HMS Supply

Sydney – 17 April: When Supply departed for Jakarta the weekly ration; ‘to every child more than eighteen months old and to every grown person..2 pounds pork, 2½ pounds flour, 2 lbs. rice, or a quart of [dried] pease…a bare sufficiency to preserve life…the pork…salted between 3-4 years and rice were brought with us from England, every grain of rice was a moving body, from the inhabitants lodged within it’. Tench. ibid.


1790 – 3 June, Sydney:  ‘The weather was wet and tempestuous’ when a ship with London on her stern’ sailed through Sydney Heads. Lady Juliana dubbed ‘The Brothel Ship’ with two hundred and twenty-six (226) ‘useless’ female prisoners, was first of four (4) ships of a second fleet.

‘Letters! Letters!…News burst upon us like meridian splendor on a blind man…We heard for the first time of our sovereign’s illness…and the French revolution of 1789’. Tench. ibid.

Justinian, an accompanying lone store-ship, was seen struggling to enter the harbour. Caught in the vortex of a typical winter ‘east-coast low’, she very nearly went the way of the store-ship HMS Guardian Australia’s Titanic . See: Sir Joseph Bank’s Garden & HMS Guardian

‘For had not the Guardian struck on an island of ice, she would probably have reached us three months before, and in this case have prevented the loss of the Sirius’. Tench. ibid.

By the end of June Neptune, Suprize, Scarborough, the second fleet’s ‘hell’ ships arrived. Contracted to Camden, Calvert and King a firm of prominent London slave-traders second fleet convicts were kept locked below decks throughout the voyage.

Starved, treated with savage brutality 25% of its one thousand (1000) mainly male prisoners embarked at Plymouth, died during passage.

Upon being brought up to the open air…all full of filth and lice…not able to walk…move hand or foot; such were slung over the ships’ side in the same manner as they would sling a cask, a box, or something of that nature…some died upon the deck and others in the [row] boats before they reached the shore’. Chaplain Richard Johnson, cited Jack Egan, Buried Alive, Allen & Unwin, 1999

‘The misery I saw is inexpressible’ – given the First Fleet Chaplain’s account it is little wonder a further 15% died soon after landing. See: Britain’s Grim Armada – The Dead and the Living Dead


‘The extra mouths to feed, the hundreds who landed sick, the fact that many of the newcomers were too old or infirm to work and the disruptions created by a fresh injection of criminal elements added to [Phillip’s] immediate problems’. Pacific Explorations. ibid.

The settlement’s medicine-cupboard was almost bare. The many sick plus another thousand (1000) empty stomachs, placed enormous stress on the starving settlement.

Phillip ordered an increase in the number of official fishing, hunting and gathering parties of armed convicts and soldiers that from day one – January 1788 – had been vital for the survival of ‘his people’.

‘The great change came in the arrival with the Second Fleet [June 1790] of the first companies of the New South Wales Corps’. 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 second fleet had also brought a detachment of infantry troops, one hundred and fifteen (115) officers and men – first contingent 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-owning elite’. Pacific Explorations. op.cit

Even before leaving England officers of the Corps had fractured broadly along a pro-anti Macarthur axis. In the last decade of the 19th century it proved difficult to attract takers for deployment on the other side of the planet.

Major Francis Grose, commander of the Corps and a veteran of the American war, remained in London to recruit numbers sufficient to meet establishment requirements..

On arriving in Sydney Macarthur took advantage of deep divisions that had developed among his seniors during the pitiless voyage. He seized his moment and moved swiftly to fill the power vacuum created by Grose’s absence.


When all the talk was of war with France close at hand across the Channel what had drawn a young ruthless John Macarthur, driven by over-arching ambition very little money and a pregnant wife, chance his arm fifteen thousand miles (15,000 miles) – 23,000 km – from England?

‘There had been plans to use the corps in expeditions against Panama, Peru and the Philippines, but nothing eventuated’. Dr Peter Stanley, The Remote Garrison, The British Army in Australia 1788-1870, Kangaroo Press, Sydney 1986

This writer believes Macarthur was dazzled by the prospect of immense wealth. New South Wales was not only a jumping off point to India and China, via the southern oceans, Spain’s South American treasure colonies were vulnerable to attack.

‘Landowners naturally came first in any description of the class structure of England…Land was the source of political power and social prestige’. ‘The Good Old Cause – The English Revolution of 1640-1660. Extracts from Contemporary Sources ed. Christopher Hill and Edmund Dell, 2nd Ed. 1969

Land lots of land – when Macarthur landed at Sydney with a wife and child he saw a clean slate . On it he was to write a large life. In the turbulent process Macarthur gained wealth, prestige, created a dynasty and, as first among ‘Australia’s property-owing elite’, the status he craved.

John Macarthur was the common denominator in the downfall of Governor Phillip’s immediate successors the three (3) ‘autocratic naval governors’ – John Hunter, Phillip Gidley King and Captain William ‘Bounty’ Bligh. See: Dark Matter Mc Mafia Macarthur 

‘A knowledge of the position of the military and their immediate friends occupies…affords a key to the whole history of the colony; and without this knowledge many important transactions, affecting the civil, social  and political interests of the community would appear almost incomprehensible’. Samuel Bennett, Australian Discovery and Colonisation’. Vol. 1 to 1800, Facsimile ed. 1981


























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