"First Fleet" Sydney Ferries Series: "Charlotte" in Darling Harbour

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Ian Stehbens on March 1, 2008

To establish territorial ownership of the east coast of the Great South Land, the British Government assembled 11 vessels which sailed out of Plymouth with around 1350 personnel on board together with stores. The Commodore of this First Fleet, Captain Arthur Phillip was to be the Governor of this first European settlement in Australia which it was proposed would be created at Botany Bay in New South Wales.

On arrival in Botany Bay, there were two major surprises. A French vessel was already there preening and repairing, and there was no supply of fresh water. It was the latter that compelled Phillip to seek another location, which was found in the next inlet northward, Port Jackson, which has become known as Sydney Harbour. In a cove, now Circular Quay, the 11 vessels anchored or tied up to trees on the shore, with the HMS Sirius and HMS Supply taking up their defence positions at the entrance to the cove.

The First Fleet anchored and Governor Phillip went ashore on January 26, 1788.

The 11 vessels in that First Fleet are now commemorated by a class of ferries that ply Sydney Harbour and its Parramatta River. I have photographed the currently operating First Fleet class ferries.

The First Fleet included Naval Flagship and 20 guns warship HMS Sirius, Naval Tender and 8 guns Brig HMS Supply, Convict Transport Alexander, Convict Transport Scarborough, Convict Transport Prince of Wales, Convict Transport Charlotte, Convict Transport Lady Penrhyn, Convict Transport Friendship, Storeship Fishburn, Storeship Golden Grove, and Storeship Borrowdale.

Ian Stehbens on March 10, 2008

Ah yes, Gondor, it was certainly timing that related to the issues of France, for there was much tension in the air between the English and the French, but Australia was definitely not seen as an escape possibility for the rich!! No. It was regarded as the remotest dumping ground for the dross of society - a place to send the "criminal class" after the American War of Independence and no longer the opportunity to send them there. As for the French, it was a matter of trying to take hold of this distant land before the French did so - territorial rivalry! This was the main political purpose, without doubt, and the dumping of convicts supported that. That the convicts and their descendants built a wealthy nation and one of the most law-abiding on the planet was the antithetical outcome.


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  • Uploaded on March 1, 2008
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    by Ian Stehbens