Australian History: First Landing
On August 1786, (sixteen years after Cook had first landed on Australia's east coast) the British government decided to start a convict settlement in New South Wales. This also allowed England to claim Australia and stop France or Spain from taking it. Arthur Phillip was chosen to organise and lead the First Fleet of convicts to Botany Bay. It would have been a difficult task to organise the fleetfor the eigth month voyage to start an entirely new colony, and not knowing what would be there. There were eleven ships in the First Fleet with six of them being convict ship that had specially built prisoners quarters below the decks. Around 1500 men, women and children sailed in the First Fleet that left on 12 May 1787. Among them weremarines and a handful of other officers who were to administer the colony, and 772 convicts (of whom 732 survived the voyage) who were petty thieves from the London slums
The First Fleet reached Botany Bay on 18 January 1788. Captain Phillip soon realized that the harbour was not as good as Banks and Matra had described it (James Matra was an American who had visited Botany Bay with Banks in 1770 who was in favour of starting a colony there). The bay was shallow and unprotected which made anchoring the ship difficult. The surrounding soil was poor and fresh water was hard to find. Instead Phillip decided to sail further north a few kilometres to see Port Jackson for himself since Cook had told him that it was a good harbour. He later wrote:
“We got into Port Jackson in the afternoon and had the satisfaction of finding the finest harbour in the world, in which a thousand sail of the line may ride in the most perfect security.”
On 26 January Phillip went ashore at the site now known as Sydney Cove, named after Lord Sydney, a government official who had helped to arrange the voyage. He raised the British flag and claimed the land for the new colony to begin.
First Fleet Ships - There were eleven ships in the First Fleet. They were all small ships that included two naval ships, six convict ships and three storeships for supplies.
Second Fleet Ships - The Lady Juliana was the first ship of the Second Fleet to arrive tat Sydney Cove. By the end of June 1790, four more ships had arrived.