Key Insights

A lot of crime in the UK, – very common to steal

Journey overseas takes 9-12 months

Most common death – scruvy (lack of Vitamin C)

Sydney very unhospitable, bad land (apart from Bellevue and Paramatta)

– Sirius starts voyage
7 years of exile for 160k convicts
11 boats, 1500 people
Privately run – goalers sold convicts to plantation owners
1 in 8 was living off crime in London – too many felons, overcrowded prisons and hulks
Botanic influence on choice of settlement
decision delayed for a long time hoping America comes back under British control


Arthur Phillip
Captain of first fleet
first governor of NSW
experienced farmer


Preparation for the voyage
– 1400 people (incl 750 convicts)
– 11 ships
– 9 months voyage
– convicts had to serve for 3 years upon arrival then become farmers
– a lot of fish hooks (and quite some tools)
– two jackets, one hat, three shirts, four stockings, three pairs of shoes, three trousers per convict
– allowed to take women from Pacific islands (without force)
– ships between 21-40 meters
– 3.5pints rum, 3kg bread, 2kg beef, 1kg pork / week


– no care was give to the state of convicts and how much of their sentence they have served
– governor Phillipp wasn’t given list either so couldn’t figure out who did and who was lying
– avg age 27, youngest 9 years, 15 pregnant and gave birth


Portsmouth – departure
– took months to load ships
– left May 1787
– arrived January 1788


The Voyage
– almost small mutiny by convicts
– governor says to treat everyone well
– Tenerife 1 week as it took so long to put on fresh water
– all liquids (waste) drain to the bottom of boat resulting in super smell and toxic gases
– convicts locked at the bottom in darkness with bugs lice rats excrements
– poop deck but some just didn’t care
– 3 pints of water a day for 2 months (convicts 2 pints)
– bleeding to cure people, probably killed more than saved
– avg death 50% vitamin c lack (unknown then), 30% falling off, 10% fire shipwreck, 10% fighting


Leaving civilisation
England – Tenerife – Rio de Janeiro – Cape of Good Hope – Australia


– aboriginals friendly and pointed to fresh water
– botany bay unliveable
– on the whole journey only 69 people died (the other fleets many more)
– chose port jackson instead and named Sydney Cove
– all ships anchored in AUSTRALIA DAY 26.01.1788


– really big storms
– unknown bugs
– hard soil
– high temperature
– bad gumtree wood for houses
– fresh water and sheltered harbour
– torrential rain / floods – mud bath
– 18 months in first brick building governor’s house
– first brickworks Haymarket
– over first 2 years food rations for everyone at the end even officers
– huge stingrays


Friction in the settlement
– bad farming/ soil
– no food
– first observatory (observatory hill)
– convicts not even afraid of death and punishment
– only 25% of people helped, women useless


The fleet goes home
– tough journey + scurvy


– hunters and gatherers
– friendly
– very crude structures
– avoided white men
– smallpox killed lots of Aboriginals
– white men kept stealing from them
– tried to have 2-3 aboriginals live with English kinda worked
– he lived in Bennelong point (his name was Bennelong) Opera House


– food shortage
– poor soil and theft
– send one ship to cape of good hope for supplies (7 months)
– ran out of candles had to go to bed when dark
– english send full supply ship with food and skilled convicts, fruit trees – swam into iceberg
– tried to recover it for 10 days then abandoned by most (one one rowing ship survived)
– whoever stayed on board somehow stayed afloat for 2 months until a ship found them
– 20 skilled convicts and 5 overseers made it and were taken on second fleet


Waiting Game
– Serius sinks at Norfolk island
– Send hundreds to island which has better vegetation
– Cruel marine office becomes Governor on island
– second fleet arrives with food and convicts


Arrival of the second fleet
– 25% died on voyage
– hundreds in coming weeks
– first ship disappointment for 250 women convicts no provisions
– all convicts in terrible state
– owners paid per convict loaded not landed
– third fleet
– then guarantee that two fleets a year will come


– convicts tried to escape on leaving boats and bush, but it was pretty impossible


Departure of Phillip
– next up Melbourne/Hobart
– Paramatta best farming
– governers’ problem with disobedient military
– private farming most successful


1788 - The brutal truth of the first fleet.jpg