by Ida Lee
F.R.G.S and Hon. F.R.A.H.S
From the Log-Books and Journals
with maps and illustrations
First Published 1925 by
Methuen & Co Ltd
36 Essex Street WC London
Transcribed to eText by
Permission to use eText given by
Col Choat of Project Gutenburg Australia 2003
Converted to Web Enhanced eText by
J&DChallenor of The Allan Cunningham Project 2009
THE COMING OF PHILLIP, FOUNDER OF
BRITAIN’S FIRST AUSTRALIAN COLONY
Its acquisition will compensate England for the loss of North America.Francisco Nunez de San Clemente.
[Add. MSS. 19, 264, British Museum, New Holland. Translation from Spanish.]
The story of the founding of the first colony hardly comes within the limits of our subject, for the explorer’s theme is discovery; but some reference to the work of the first Governors cannot well be omitted from this book, so we will deal with it as briefly as its importance and its interest will permit.
In January, 1788, Captain Arthur Phillip, hastening before the rest of his fleet to choose a place for his settlement, reached the shores of New South Wales. Accompanying him on board H.M. armed tender “Supply” were a few officers and the most capable engineers and workmen his fleet could command. They had rounded the southern shores of Tasmania and now followed in Cook’s track along the east coast. Phillip had been set a great task, for the British Government had ordered him to form a penal settlement at this great distance from home; his voyage had been very long and hazardous, and he had almost accomplished it. Yet even on the very threshold of the country that he had been sent to colonize his courage might well have failed him when he beheld the vast, bare, uncultivated land which Cook had discovered.
Its unending coast-line trended strangely;[*] sometimes disclosing features singularly stern and hard, as at Cape Dromedary, Point Upright, and Longnose, at others softening into low white sandhills and spreading in wide beaches of sand where an occasional cabbage-palm was visible; while higher up[p079] in the background a line of blue haze veiled the distant horizon. Between the line of blue haze and the shore were forests of eucalyptus trees whose leaves of olive green, and the smoke rising from native fires, did not escape the notice of those on board the “Supply.”
[* Phillip saw more of the coast than Hunter did in this voyage, and he wrote from Sydney in 1790: “From what I saw when I came on the coast between this harbour [Port Jackson] and South Cape I make no doubt several good harbours will be found.”–“Historical Records of New South Wales,” Vol. I, Part ii, P. 358.]
As from the deck Phillip watched his ship draw nearer in to the shore he must have realized that at the end of his journey his work was only just beginning. Beyond wood and water and the native plants seen by the “Endeavour’s” people none could tell what the country might possess. Before him stretched the Unknown. Behind him in the fleet were, in all, 1,163 persons, the majority of whom were prisoners. The most urgent problem confronting him, therefore, was how to supply the immediate needs of so many people in this strange land. This alone may well have caused him anxiety.
Since the “Endeavour” had traced her lonely course along that distant coast no ship had visited the south-eastern part of Australia, and the natives had probably forgotten all about Cook’s visit until, early on the morning of January 18, 1788, the “Supply” arrived.
Phillip was greatly disappointed with what he saw of Botany Bay. The green meadows described by Banks were found to be barren swamps and sterile sands, doubtless owing to a drought that had befallen the country; and the bay itself, although extensive, was exposed to the full sweep of the easterly winds, which blew violently and rolled a heavy sea against the shore.
On entering the bay the “Supply” was compelled to anchor a little distance from land. Some forty natives fishing near the south shore, being greatly alarmed at the vessel’s appearance, hastily dragged their canoes out of the water, placed them on their backs, and ran off with them into the bush. Meanwhile the women saw to the safety of their children and the fishing-tackle. A few of the more courageous men remained behind and ventured to the water’s edge, brandishing their spears and boomerangs and shouting “Warra, Warra!–Go away, Go away!” exactly as these people had done eighteen years before when they had watched the arrival of Captain Cook.
On the north side of the bay only six or seven natives were observed, so it was at this point that, during the day, Phillip, with Lieutenant H. L. Ball, the “Supply’s” commander, Lieutenant King of the “Sirius,” and Lieutenant William Dawes of the Royal Marines prepared to land. In consequence of the[p080] hostility of a small band of blacks who kept up a continuous attack with stones, Captain Phillip, to avoid a quarrel, ordered the sailors to row along shore until the boat came to a spot where he thought he might find water. The search was unsuccessful, and about sunset the party re-embarked and rowed back to the part of the beach opposite which the “Supply” had anchored.
Several natives armed with spears and waddies had collected there, and were gazing intently at the vessel. Phillip beckoned to them and made signs that he wanted water, but they apparently were lost in amazement. Growing impatient at last Phillip, handing his musket to the man nearest him, sprang out of the boat, and walked towards the black men, holding out presents to show his friendly intentions. Seeing that the Governor frequently waved his hand to his own party to retire, at last one of the oldest blacks came forward, and, giving his spear to a younger man, advanced alone. When the natives understood what he wanted they laid down their arms and led the Governor and his party to a rivulet of fresh water. These natives seemed quite peaceable; but, on Phillip’s return to the beach, others gathered there who resented the landing, and, in order to reach the boat, it became necessary to fire off a gun to disperse them.
On the following day, January 19th, three transports arrived and reported that the hay for the cattle on board was almost exhausted. A party was consequently sent to cut grass, and Captain Phillip made a tour of the south side of the bay. In this expedition he again saw the inhabitants, and again advanced alone to meet them. A green branch was used by both parties as a sign of friendship, and the blacks threw down their spears to show that they were amicably disposed. Meanwhile the sailors gave them presents of coloured flannel, red baize, and beads, with which they adorned themselves. They were excellent mimics and could imitate the marines to perfection. The sound of the fife delighted them, but the beating of the drum sent them running into the bush, and they would not return until it ceased. The headgear of the strangers also pleased them, and several hats were stolen off their owners’ heads, and whenever an Englishman took off his hat they gave shouts of approval.
“Heavy in clouds came on the day” (January 20th) of Captain Hunter’s arrival in H.M.S. “Sirius” with the remainder of the transports. “To us,” wrote Captain Tench, “it was a[p081] great and important day and I hope will mark the foundation . . . of an Empire.”
The harbour being considered too exposed, the Governor decided to look for a more convenient landing-place, and set out on January 21st, accompanied by Hunter and two other officers, in three open boats to examine the coast to the northward, intending to reach “what Captain Cook had called Broken Bay.[*] Another opening, marked Port Jackson on his chart, however, first attracted notice, and Phillip ordered his seamen to explore the inlet within. At first sight it presented a rather unpromising appearance, having “high, rugged, and perpendicular cliffs” guarding the entrance on either side.
[* Hunter’s Journal.]
In passing between the heads the boats were greeted with wild cries from the natives on the rocks above. Others were observed in the coves, who, on seeing the strangers, left the shore and joined those higher up in evident alarm. The black men followed in the wake of the visitors for some distance, keeping close to the edge of the cliffs, but the long, heavy swell of the ocean gradually sank, and the shouts of the natives grew fainter as early in the afternoon the boats ran into smooth water, and the seamen saw stretching in front of them a wide and picturesque harbour with bays and coves and rocky points, many being covered with green foliage down to the water’s edge. On the hills inland tall trees grew, with olive-green leaves resembling those seen upon the coast to the southward.
Captain Phillip was struck with the beauty of the scene, and when he found a safe cove possessing both wood and water chose this as the site of his settlement. The cove was given the name of Sydney in honour of Thomas Townshend, Lord Sydney, then Home Secretary in Pitt’s Government. Two days were spent in surveying the various coves, and during that time the inhabitants became well disposed toward the white people, and a chief who went with Phillip to inspect his camp gave evidence of intelligence and courage. At another point a party of natives waded into the water to receive the gifts offered them and showed such manly trustfulness in the British sailors that the Governor afterwards gave the spot the name of Manly Cove.
On the 23rd Phillip rejoined his people and directions were given to the fleet to prepare to proceed to Port Jackson. Leaving orders with Hunter to follow him next day, the Governor on the 25th sailed in the “Supply” back to this harbour. We find[p082] one of the most interesting descriptions of subsequent events and of the landing at Sydney in the journal of Daniel Southwell, midshipman in H.M.S. “Sirius.” He writes:
About January 24th, to our great surprise, we saw two strange sail in the offing . . . a current set them bodily to the southward and, together with a contrary wind . . . kept them from coming in until the 26th. . . . They proved the ‘Boussole’ and ‘Astrolabe,’ Monsieur de la Perouse.”
The French ships had last left Samoa, where at the island of Maouna they had lost l’Angle the “Astrolabe’s” commander, with several other officers and seamen, and two long boats, in an attack made by the natives while searching for water. La Pe~rouse had sailed to New South Wales guided by Cook’s chart, and had anchored off Norfolk Island, but could not land on account of the surf.
On first seeing the British ships, on January 24th–when he tried in vain to speak to them–La Pe~rouse wrote: “We saw this day a sight entirely new to us–a British fleet lying at anchor, the colours and pendants of the ships . . . plainly distinguishable. Europeans are all fellow-countrymen at such a distance from home, and we felt the greatest impatience to get to an anchorage, but the next day was so hazy and our ships sailed too badly to overcome both the force of wind and currents, so we did not get in until the 26th at nine in the morning.”
As soon as the French ships had anchored, the first lieutenant and a midshipman from H.M.S. “Sirius” went on board the “Boussole” bearing a message from Captain Hunter, offering in the name of the Governor all the services in his power, but regretting his inability to furnish provisions, ammunition, or sails, since his convoy was on the point of departure. Clonard, second in command, was at once despatched to tender the thanks of the French commodore to Captain Hunter–who was already apeak with his topsails hoisted–and to intimate that the wants of the French did not extend beyond wood and water, of which they should find plenty in the bay. The first lieutenant did not inform La Pe~rouse whither the convoy was bound, but several launches and small boats were under sail, and it was conjectured that the distance must indeed be short to render it unnecessary to hoist them into the ships. An English sailor, less cautious than the rest, informed the crew of the “Boussole” that they were only bound to Port Jackson, a few miles away, where ships[p083] could anchor “within pistol shot of the land in water as smooth as a basin.”
After thus exchanging greetings with the French, Hunter’s fleet left for Sydney. Mr. Southwell continues: “We weighed for Port Jackson and came to there the same evening in as snug a place as London River. Nothing could be more picturesque than the appearance of the country while running up this extraordinary harbour. The land on all sides . . . is covered with trees. . . . Towards the water’s edge craggy rocks and wonderful declivities are everywhere to be seen. A number of small islands are interspersed . . . some lying in the middle of the stream . . . and although extremely rocky are covered with trees, most of which are evergreen. The white sides of the eminences with very little help from fancy have at a distance the appearance of grand seats and superb palaces. . . . The natives too formed a part in the landscape, for some had posted themselves on the overhanging cliffs and brandished their lances. . . . We ran two leagues . . . and came to a place called Sydney Cove.”
On this evening, January 26th, the people were assembled at a point where the “Supply’s” passengers who had arrived with the Governor had first landed in the morning. Here a flagstaff was erected and a Union Jack displayed while the marines fired volleys, between which the healths of His Majesty and the Royal Family with success to the new Colony were cordially drunk.
Not all the ships came into Sydney Cove that evening; some had to anchor out in the stream.[*] On the following day (.January 27th), however, the remainder of the fleet drew closer inshore and the landing began. The first undertaking was to clear the ground and erect houses, the framework of which had been brought from England. Meanwhile the settlers encamped in tents and under the trees, “in a country resembling the woody parts of a deer park,” and, at first, there was a good deal of confusion mingled with amusement at the novel experiences. In one place were “a party cutting down wood, another setting up a forge, a third dragging a load of provisions; here stood an officer pitching his tent with his troops parading on one side of him and a cook’s fire blazing furiously on the other,” every one animated with a desire to do his utmost in helping to found the settlement.
[* See log-books of the transports.]
[p084] On Sunday, February 3rd, Divine Service was held under the shade of a large tree (it was a very hot day), at which the Rev. Richard Johnson, chaplain to the new colony, officiated.
The plan of the town,” says Southwell, “is laying out, in which I believe Mr. Dawes is particularly engaged. Whether a name is decided I cannot tell, but have heard Albion mentioned.” This name we know was not finally adopted, and a note in the MS. says that Sydney was the title decided upon by the Governor for the town as well as for the cove upon which he had first bestowed it.
In the meantime La Pe~rouse was busily careening his ships at Botany Bay. At first few visits were exchanged. But there were on board the “Boussole” and “Astrolabe” some of the first scientists of France, and soon a pleasant friendship sprang up between the representatives of the two nations. During their stay the French officers pitched their tents on shore, set up a small observatory, and put together the frames of two large boats which they had brought from France. Round their camp a stockade, guarded by two small guns, was thrown up as a protection against the attacks of the natives.
At this time La Perouse and his officers penned the letters to their friends in France which were fated to be the last received from those on board the ships. Perhaps not without a shade of disappointment La Pe~rouse wrote of his arrival: “We were preceded by the English only five days. To the most distinguished politeness they have added every other service in their power, and it was with regret we watched them depart for Port Jackson. . . . Our boats are already on the stocks; by the end of the month I expect they will be launched. We are only 10 miles distant from the English by land and consequently have frequent intercourse with them.” One realizes too the note of sadness in another letter when, possibly with l’Angle’s fate in his mind, La Pe~rouse wrote: “I have arrived here without a sick man on board either of the ships; I have formed here a new kind of entrenchment with palisades so as to build our boats in security; this precaution was necessary against the Indians of New Holland who . . . threw spears at us after receiving our presents and experiencing our kindness. My opinion of uncivilized races has long been formed and this voyage will confirm it. I have been too often in danger not to know them.”
Among the first visitors to the ” Boussole ” and the ” Astrolabe”[p085] were Lieutenant King and Lieutenant Dawes, who came round in the cutter from Sydney on February 1st, in the morning. They dined with the commodore and after inspecting the scientific collections in the ships were entertained at the camp on shore. On February 8th another party of naval officers came overland from Sydney to visit the French. At the same time Clonard went to Port Jackson, taking with him correspondence to be forwarded to the French Ambassador in London. Quite a little entente cordiale resulted from these visits, but soon afterwards a gloom fell over the French encampment when on February 17th Pere Receveur, one of the chaplains, died from the effects of wounds he had received at the hands of the Samoans. He was buried close to the observatory at the foot of a large tree, on which were nailed two pieces of board with an inscription bearing his name and the date of his death. Two days later Captain Phillip sent two horses over to the French camp to conduct La Pe~rouse and his suite to Sydney. This is the only instance mentioned of the French commodore visiting the Governor, but it is probable that he came to the settlement more than once.
On March 11th the “Boussole” and the “Astrolabe” weighed anchor and sailed to the northwards. For forty years no news of them reached Europe; then wreckage was found at Vanikoro and information afterwards obtained which left no doubt that both vessels had been lost there and that many of the Frenchmen in endeavouring to escape from the waves were killed by the natives.
To return to the settlement at Sydney. The Governor’s canvas house had been erected on the east side of the cove: the military had encamped at the head and most of the prisoners were placed on the west side. As winter approached barracks for the soldiers were begun. Capital bricks were made at somewhat less than a league from the camp, and this spot, though rather a scanty village, “became a pleasant walk.” Gardening, farming, and cultivation of the soil occupied the attention of every one. A wharf for the convenience of landing stores was constructed; the long-boats were employed in bringing cabbage-trees from the lower parts of the harbour, where they grew in abundance, and they were found fit for use in erecting temporary huts, the posts and planks being made of the pine of the country, the sides and ends fitted with lengths of cabbage trees plastered with clay, and the roofs generally being thatched with grass.
[p086] Presently Sydney took shape. According to a description of it handed down to us by one who lived there in November, 1788, the town at first did not present an attractive picture. “We have now two streets,” says the writer, “if four rows of the most miserable huts you can possibly conceive deserve that name. Windows they have none, as from the Governor’s house, now nearly finished, no glass could be spared, so that lattices of twigs are made by our people to supply their places. At the extremity of the lines, where since our arrival the dead are buried, there is a place called the church yard.”
The curious contrast between the “miserable huts” constructed by the settlers and the “superb palaces” of Nature’s making seen by Southwell must have lent the Sydney of those early days a very strange appearance. But only for a time were the huts seen there. As the population increased the streets were lengthened and more substantially built houses with pretty gardens supplanted the huts. The new homes, set amid the exquisite surroundings of harbour scenery on the one side and the wildernesses of bushland on the other, soon gave to Sydney that charm which ever since has distinguished it.[*]
[* Half a century later Captain Lort Stokes thus wrote of the town: “A noble city has sprung up as if by magic which will ever serve as a monument of English enterprise.”–“Stokes’ Voyage,” Vol. 1, P. 244.]
If at first the town was small, the dimensions of the colony placed under Phillip’s control were enormous. He was instructed to administer territory defined as including “all the east coast of Australia from Cape York to South Cape (at the southern extremity of Tasmania), its western boundary being constituted by the 135th degree of east longitude.” The Governor’s commission read publicly when he landed had proclaimed him ruler of this immense region, embracing as it did nearly half the continent under the name of New South Wales.
The only portions seen or surveyed up to the time of Phillip’s coming were the places Torres and the Dutch had sighted in the north; the shores of the east coast traced by Cook, and, in addition to Tasman’s discoveries in Tasmania, Marion Bay, where du Fresne had anchored; Adventure Bay and the islands, and parts of the Tasmanian coast-line, which had been charted by Furneaux and Cook, so that there was a great field ripe for discovery. As soon as he had seen the work of building a town started and, when the land was cleared, the planting of wheat, barley, and rice[p087] which had been brought from Rio and the Cape, Phillip led his people forth on their path of exploration.
In 1788 he defined the boundaries round a portion of the settlement which was named the county of Cumberland. We are told that this comprised the portion lying between the northernmost point of Broken Bay and the southernmost point of Botany Ray, extending westward to the Lansdowne and Carmarthen Hills, which he had seen and named during his inland excursions. He also minutely surveyed the harbours of Botany Bay and Port Jackson, and went several times to Broken Bay in order to examine its different branches. Charts of all these harbours were sent home by him to the Admiralty.
It had been arranged that the settlement should never be left without twelve months’ provisions, but in consequence of H.M.S. “Guardian,” a 44-gun ship under the command of Lieutenant Riou, after leaving the Cape on December 23, 1789, being nearly wrecked on her way to Sydney, the colony was brought to the verge of starvation. By skilful seamanship Riou took the helpless vessel back to Table Bay, though he wrote home “the ship is past recovery.”[*] Meanwhile in New South Wales much of the valuable live stock imported had been killed, and not until the arrival of the “Lady Juliana” on June 3, 1790, were the meagre rations of the hungry people increased.[**] H.M.S. “Gorgon” had been at once commissioned for the relief of the colony after the “Guardian’s” loss was reported at home, and on September 21st she reached Port Jackson, convoying a fleet of ten transports, when Captain Parker, her commander, with Captain King, newly appointed Governor of Norfolk Island, landed with dispatches for Governor Phillip.
[* “The Gorgon” took most of her stores from the Cape, leaving nothing but her anchors.]
[** The arrival of the “Neptune,” “Surprise,” and “Scarborough” in 1790 relieved the distress.]
The “Gorgon’s” voyage added to the knowledge of the East Coast. Some of those in command of the ships in passing up the coast entered harbours which until then were quite unknown. Lieutenant Bowen, of the “Atlantic,” discovered an inlet where Cook had imagined that the shore would form a bay and had named its northern point Longnose.
Bowen took the “Atlantic” into the bay and found that its latitude was 35°15′ S. Its entrance was from a mile to a mile and a half wide: “the southernmost point an island [Bowen Island] [p088] almost connected with the mainland; the north point pretty high and rising perpendicularly out of the sea.”[*] The north point at first was taken for a long, low island, but afterwards it was ascertained to be a peninsula. After Bowen had passed through the entrance he found himself in “a very capacious basin three or four miles wide and five or six miles in length,” with regular soundings; of it he wrote: “The west side and head of the bay was a white sandy beach, the eastern shore is bold and rocky, and there is a small shoal in the middle of the entrance.” Bowen came upon a native canoe upon the beach and saw kangaroos, but could not find fresh water. He named this harbour Jervis Bay in honour of Admiral Sir John Jervis.
[* Hunter’s Journal, which quotes Bowen’s description of it.]
Another captain, Matthew Weatherhead, anchored his ship “Matilda” “for two days inside an island off Tasmania in 42°15′ S.and 148½* E.” Weatherhead was one of those energetic seamen who took a delight in making known the geography of the South Pacific. He appears to have taken the “Matilda” into an inlet “within” Schouten Island, which, he says, “afforded shelter for five or six ships.”
Schouten Island lies off the eastern coast of Tasmania, and is about ten miles from it. Weatherhead reached this island, which had been discovered by Tasman in 1642, and seen by Furneaux in 1774, on July 27, 1791. Neither the Dutch nor the English navigator had stopped to investigate its shores, both imagining it to be part of a group. Only a narrow strait separates the island from Freycinet Peninsula to the northward. The French on coming there in 1802 called the strait Géographe Strait, after Baudin’s ship, and named the wide space between Schouten Island and the Tasmanian mainland Fleurieu Bay, now Oyster Bay, imagining that they were the first to see it but Weatherhead had brought the “Matilda” to an anchorage there, and on his arrival in Sydney Captain Tench realizing that he had made a discovery, questioned him concerning it. In answer to Tench’s inquiries[*] Weatherhead likened the bay to Spithead, and said that he had found plenty of fresh water on shore, and that it was sandy and in many places full of craggy rocks. The only animals that he saw were three kangaroos. Although he met with none of the natives, he had seen several huts like those of [p089] Port Jackson, in one of which lay a spear. In honour of his ship Weatherhead named the place Matilda Bay.
[* Tench’s questions and Weatherhead’s replies appear in full in an “Account of Port Jackson,” by Captain Watkin Tench, 1793, P. 137.]
Captain Tench, as though afraid lest anyone should doubt the authenticity of the above discoveries, wrote as follows on the last page of his “Account of Port Jackson”: “The two discoveries of Port Jervis and Matilda Bay may yet be wanting in the maps of the coast. My account of their geographic situation except possibly in the exact longitude of the latter . . . may be safely depended upon.”
Weatherhead met with another island off Cape Dromedary, where he thought two or three ships might easily find shelter. He probably sighted the small bight on the west coast of Montagu Island (seen by the “Surprise”), where small ships can take refuge. In the month of the following November he visited Jervis Bay and examined Bowen’s discoveries, of which he made an “Eye Draught ” (which we reproduce), at the same time remarking, ” There is exceeding good anchorage here.”[*]
[* “Adm. Sec. In Letters: 2309.”]
Alexander Dalrymple made a copy of Weatherhead’s sketch, to which he appends the note, “In the Matilda many natives were seen and canoes on the beach; the natives were armed with spears but they could have no communication with them.” Dalrymple also shows the mouth of a creek on the west side of the bay and marks the words “Fresh Water” on the beach south of it. He calls a point yet farther to the southward Cabbage Tree Point, and on the east side of the bay he gives the names (from north to south) of Long Point, Long Beach (the “Matilda’s” anchorage), Cawood Point, and Rocky Point, these being the first names given in Jervis Bay.
No less than five of the “Gorgon’s” fleet, including the “Matilda,” were whaling ships. Having seen whales on their way up the Australian coast the masters obtained Phillips’s permission to try for a cargo of oil off there, hoping to be able to establish a fishery in New South Wales. Captain Melville of Messrs. Enderbys’ ship “Britannia” (followed by the “William and Ann”) was the first to put to sea on October 25th, and killed seven whales on that day, although he secured only two. Another master killed nine whales and secured five.
The other captains, Colonel Collins thought, were more desirous of obtaining a knowledge of the harbours on the coast than of keeping at sea long enough to be able to determine whether a fishery might be successfully established. Weatherhead [p090] was one of these. He landed during November from a boat in a bay north of Sydney, “about six miles southward of Port Stephens, where the seine was hauled and a quantity of fish taken.”[*] Captain Nichols brought the “Salamander” to an anchorage in Port Stephens, “until then not visited by anyone.” He made an eye sketch of the harbour and some of its arms; Salamander Bay being then placed on the chart.
[* Morna Point is 4½ miles south of Port Stephens, the land between Morna Point and Newcastle Harbour forming a bay known as Newcastle Bight.]
Weatherhead left Port Jackson for Peru on December 28th. One dark night his ship grounded upon Mururoa or Vairaatea (the Osnaburg Island of Carteret). In 1826 Captain Beechey in the “Blossom” saw remains of the vessel, and was able to identify the shoal as the scene of the “Matilda’s” wreck. He named it Matilda Shoal. Weatherhead and his ship’s company reached Tahiti safely in their boats.
When the Port Jackson natives saw that the white people had taken up a permanent residence in their land their behaviour changed. For some time they withdrew from the settlement and appeared to spend their time in fishing and hunting the kangaroo, called by them “patagorang.” Nor would they ever visit Sydney. Captain Phillips therefore determined to take one of their number prisoner, thinking that if the man were treated kindly he would induce his countrymen to place more confidence in Europeans. The first man to be captured was Arabanoo (named at first Manly after the spot where he was taken). He became a general favourite but did not live long. Then two sick children were brought into the hospital for treatment. Later in November, 1789, two other natives were seized on the north side of the harbour; some of the seamen, meeting them on the beach, pulled them into the boat and brought them back to the settlement. One was a chief named Colebe, the other a younger man called Bennilong. Both were kept at Government House, where they were well treated and given suitable clothes. Colebe soon afterwards made his escape, carrying off the whole of his wardrobe. Bennilong was given his liberty in April, 1790, and at first did not seem inclined to leave the Governor’s residence; but one evening he too disappeared without saying good-bye to his white friends. The fishing boats subsequently met these two men in the harbour, and afterwards, although they came armed with either spears or clubs, the natives visited Sydney, and from that time a better feeling sprang up between the white and black races.
[p091] Up to this time the homes of the colonists had been erected within a comparatively small space round the shores of the cove, but on the arrival of fresh ships bringing more prisoners and settlers, Phillip turned his attention to the formation of fresh settlements; one made in 1788 at Parramatta soon became a place of importance. On November 2nd, with three officers and a party of marines, the Governor visited the spot and named it Rosehill, after Mr. George Rose, then Secretary to the Treasury. Gradually small hamlets began to spring up amid the surrounding inland country.
Fortunately Phillip remained long enough in New South Wales to see his colony firmly established and to penetrate many parts of the interior. (An account of these explorations will be found in another Chapter.) But the anxiety and cares of office at last weakened his health. It is not unlikely that the beginning of his illness was due to the scanty fare that he had lived upon in the time of famine, when the Governor, “from a motive which did him immortal honour,” gave up to the public store flour set aside for his own use, since he did not wish for more at his table than the daily ration issued to each person. His health continued to decline, and at length he petitioned the Home Government to be allowed to return to England. Reluctantly leave was granted and he left in the “Atlantic” on December 11, 1792, amid the regrets of the whole community.
The Founder of the first colony, he will ever be remembered as one who, in the words of the first Governor-General, laid its foundations “deep and wide.” To have reached the bare shores of Australia safely with his fleet was a triumph of seamanship, but in a space of five years where all was wilderness to have moulded and left behind him a British colony fast becoming self-supporting was a feat that only few other men could have accomplished.
Captain John Hunter was appointed to succeed him.
Between the departure of Captain Phillip and the arrival of Hunter there was an interval of about two years and nine months, during which period the settlement was administered successively by the senior officers of the New South Wales Corps (an irregular force raised at home for special service in the colony). The first of these, Major Francis Grose, who practically suppressed civil government after Phillip left, thereby creating a serious set-back to all the former progress, continued in office until December, 1794, when he resigned and sailed for England. His[p092] successor, as Lieutenant-Governor, was Captain William Paterson, another officer of this regiment. He is best noted for the energy he displayed in endeavouring to penetrate the mountains, in forwarding to Europe specimens of the botany and natural history of the country, and in protecting the settlers from the raids of the natives when they became troublesome.
There is also evidence that Major Grose and his brother-officers, although they have been greatly blamed for the disappointing condition into which the colony relapsed at this time, were not unmindful of its general needs, as the following extract from a letter written by Captain Paterson (before he became Lieutenant-Governor) to a friend[*] at home will show. It is dated Port Jackson, August 23, 1794: “The ‘Britannia,’ Captain Raven, is taken up by the officers for the purpose of bringing horses and cattle from the Cape of Good Hope, and by her I have sent a box of specimens for you and directed Captain Raven to leave them in charge of Masson if there be no ship ready to sail while he is there. In return I hope you will not forget me in the garden seeds and farming seeds such as clover, horse beans, lucerne, and such as you think will stand the long voyage. At present I have only a garden of 6 acres. . . . My stock increases fast. I have a large stock of goats, a cow and a calf, and expect great things by the ‘ Britannia,’ at least I ought for my share is £400.”
Then Paterson goes on to tell us more about the colony: “Everything looks well and the country not that desert which many of the first settlers supposed. We are now independent of flour, and in a few years I have little doubt but that meat will be in plenty. We find, as the country gets cleared, the soil is found to be better for wine and corn. I think it will exceed the Cape. The encouragement Major Grose has given settlers of all descriptions has certainly done wonders. From this place to the new settlement at the Hawkesbury, a man can walk in eight hours and a good road made all the way, so that we have an intercourse with that [place], Toongabby and Parramatta in the course of one day. . . .”
In 1795, when the second Governor, Captain Hunter, arrived and took over the Colony from Paterson, its internal affairs again began to flourish. The fortunes of the land improved, forests were cleared and cultivated, and the town showed signs of progress. New settlers, too, in increasing numbers made their [p093] homes at Parramatta and in the Hawkesbury River district at Portland Head.
The first book ever printed in Australia, “The General Standing Orders of New South Wales, 1802,” states that Sydney and Parramatta or Rosehill were first divided into two parishes, Sydney being called the Parish of St. Phillip in honour of Governor Phillip, and Parramatta the Parish of St. John in honour of Captain John Hunter. Sydney Parish included Petersham, Bulanaming, Concord, and Liberty Plains (named in 1793), while Parramatta Parish included Banks Town, Prospect Hill, Toongabby, Seven Hills, Castle Hill, Eastern Farm, Field of Mars (the name given by Phillip to land granted by him to eight marines), Northern Boundary, The Ponds, and Kissing Point. Each of these places was of course little more than a hamlet and only consisted of a few settlers’ houses.
The Hawkesbury or St. George’s Parish was made the third parish of the new colony during the rule of Major Grose in 1794. In this region six cattle, some of the herd first brought to the colony, which had strayed into the bush in June, 1788, had sought a retreat, and here they or their descendants were discovered in 1795. The country over which they ranged became known under the name of the Cowpastures, and it not only formed a happy hunting ground for the Governors, but also supplied them with the rare luxury of fresh meat. At Greenhills, its principal town, which was renamed Windsor, Captain John Hunter spent much of his time. There exists an old sketch of the Cowpastures known as John Hunter’s Chart, made in 1797, on which is shown a lagoon with the name Black Swan Lake, and at some distance from Mount Taurus, where a bull had been killed, various inscriptions such as “here a bull was seen” or “beautiful country.” The chart shows that Hunter, as did Phillip before him, went exploring inland.
Captain Hunter also made expeditions along the coast; in Phillip’s time he had charted Port Jackson and surveyed several rivers; he now initiated fresh discoveries, and tried to build a ship of 160 tons, which, however, he could not finish, “but she stood in the frame upwards of two years exposed to the weather without the smallest decay.” He brought to the notice of the Home Government the native flax, the indigo which grew “spontaneously,” and the astringent bark of trees well adapted for tanning, as well as the abundant iron ore, and, what was most encouraging, the equally abundant coal.
[p094] He left for Europe in September, 1800, and, on taking his departure, placed the administration in the hands of Captain King, who, when Hunter did not return, was appointed to succeed him.
Governor King’s energy gave an impetus to discovery both on land and sea, and his efforts to promote British influence extended far beyond the limits of the colony that he ruled.
remembering the proximity of Tasmania and New Zealand, and, thinking it unwise to leave the shores of the former island unpeopled and open to the designs of other nations, he impressed his views upon the Home Government, with the result that settlers were sent to Tasmania, and a house–possibly the first ever built in New Zealand–was erected for officials in the Bay of Islands. King retired in August, 1806.
The new Governor, Captain William Bligh, was a Cornishman like his predecessor, and had seen service in various parts of the world. He had fought with distinction at the Dogger Bank in 1781, at Gibraltar in 1782; and, in 1801, under Lord Nelson, he commanded the “Glatton” at the battle of Copenhagen. In 1787 he had proceeded in the “Bounty” to Tahiti to collect bread-fruit, and was the victim of the well-known mutiny. His second voyage on the same errand was a complete success, and to the British Government he seemed to be the very man to pilot the young settlement into quiet waters. Bligh, however, brave man though he had proved himself, and superb seaman, as all his voyages will testify, was not a success as Governor. He soon ruffled the military officials and roused a commotion which he could not control, with the result that, after placing him under arrest, they kept him a prisoner within his own house for twelve months. He returned to England in 1809 and in turn was succeeded by Colonel Paterson, formerly of the New South Wales Corps, who arrived from Tasmania.
Paterson left the colony in 1810. He was one of the best and the most popular of the lieutenant-governors, but his kindliness of heart often prevented him from doing useful work for fear of giving offence. On leaving Port Jackson ten boats crowded with people followed his pinnace to the ship, “cheering him all the way.” He died during his homeward voyage.
Lachlan Macquarie, who succeeded him as the new Governor, came of an old Scottish family settled at Ulva. He had seen service in America, in India, and at Alexandria. In 1807 he was appointed to take command of the 73rd, and in 1809 received[p095] orders to proceed to New South Wales with that regiment, being promoted to the rank of major-general while he held the reins of government.
Macquarie’s rule, which extended over a period of twelve years, was of the greatest importance to the colony. He had been invested by the home authorities with larger powers than any previous Governor with the exception of Phillip, and had been given a free hand and adequate means to carry out any measures which he might deem expedient. Among his reforms perhaps none were more beneficial than those which affected the port itself.
One of his methods was to impose taxes upon native products brought into the harbour and landed at Sydney by whalers and traders from different islands in the Pacific. The harbour had become for many of these vessels nothing more nor less than a dumping ground; and, owing to the fact that its depth of water allowed ships to discharge their cargoes in the very heart of the town, wharves and stages sprang up in all directions round the cove. Macquarie insisted that these buildings should be constructed with some uniformity, and enforced regulations for the greater convenience of shipping and commerce. His judicious development of its trade raised Port Jackson to the position of an important and thriving seaport. Among other taxes he imposed the following:
On each ton of béche-de-mer, £5; on each ton of sandalwood, pearl shell, or sperm oil, £2 10s.; on each spar from New Zealand, £1, as well as various duties upon cedar, kangaroo skins, and seal skins. A flourishing trade had long since been established in these commodities so that the new taxation considerably increased the revenue.
His insight also told him that roads and bridges, being the natural ducts of a new country, should precede rather than follow colonization, and with prison labour at his command, by means of chain-gangs, he made roads inland wherever it was possible to do so, making them so thoroughly that many constructed during his rule are still used. He encouraged the exploration of the interior and visited each settlement in turn, going by sea to those at a distance, and endeavouring to effect improvements wherever it was in his power. In consequence there was not a pioneer in the country who did not in his heart thank the British Government for placing such a man at the head of the infant colony.
[p096] Macquarie’s activities were not confined to the outlying country and the adjacent settlements. In Sydney his energies found scope in all directions. He found the town composed of small houses or huts scattered about or huddled together according to no organized plan. Under his hand it began to be a fair city with well-ordered streets and imposing public buildings. He tried also not only to rebuild the town but to beautify it by planting gardens and by making walks and roads wherever they would command views of the shores of Port Jackson. A lighthouse possessing a revolving light was erected by him at South Head. Mrs. Macquarie had the drive in the Domain laid out after her own plan, and on the extreme point overlooking the harbour a sort of natural seat has ever since been known as “Mrs. Macquarie’s Chair.” The Governor and his wife bade farewell to New South Wales in December, 1821.
He died in London two and a half years later, and was buried at his old home in Scotland.