5. Bound for Botany Bay


Bound for Botany Bay


The Landing of the First Fleet


In 1787, eleven ships of the First Fleet had set sail for Australia “The Great South Land”. On 18th January 1788, after 7 months at sea, they arrived at the bay of Kamay (Botany Bay). As the flagship, HMS Supply, approached forty Aboriginal people gathered on the south shore – “shouting and making many uncouth signs and gestures”.

Governor Phillip chose to land on the north side of the bay where only six men were visible. Presents were offered:

“they called to us. Some of them walked along the shore and others kept sitting on the rocks.”

William Bradley

“We went a little way up the bay to look for water, but finding none we returned… where we observed a group of natives. We put the boats on shore near where we observed two of their canoes lying. They immediately got up and called to us in a menacing tone, and at the same time brandishing their spears and lances…”

Philip Gidley King

First Encounters


Governor Phillip ordered a man to tie some beads to a canoe:

“We then made signs that we wanted water, when they pointed round the point on which they stood, and invited us to land there. On landing they directed us by pointing to a very fine stream of fresh water.


Governor Phillip then advanced towards them alone and unarmed, on which one of them advanced towards him, but not near enough to receive the beads which the Governor held out for him… (he) made signs for them to be laid on the ground, which was done. He (ye native)…seemed quite astonished at ye figure we cut in being clothed.”

Two days later, while several miles upstream looking for water, King noted:

“I gave two of them a glass of wine, which they had no sooner tasted than they spit it out… They wanted to know what sex we were, which they explained by pointing… I ordered one of my men to undeceive them in this particular, when they made a great shout of admiration, and, pointing to the shore which was but ten yards from us, we saw a great number of women and girls, with infant children on their shoulders, make their appearance on the beach, all in puris naturalibus [Latin for completely naked]. I (offered) a handkerchief to one of the women (who) suffered me to apply the handkerchief where Eve did ye fig leaf. The natives then set up another very great shout, and my female visitor returned onshore.”

Watkin Tench also noted of the same scene:

“…they burst into the most immoderate fits of laughter, talking to each other at the same time… After nearly an hour’s conversation, they repeated several times the word “Whurra” which signifies, begone, and walked away from us into the head of the bay.”



Bound for Botany Bay


Farewell to Old England forever

Farewell to my old pals as well

Farewell to the well known Old Bailey

Where I used to look such a swell


Singing too-ral li-ooral li-addity

Singing too-ral li-ooral li-ay

Singing too-ral li-ooral li-addity

And we’re bound for Botany Bay

There’s the Captain as is our commander

There’s the bo’sun and all the ship’s crew

There’s the first and the second class passengers

Know what we poor convicts go through

Us soldiers we ain’t too intelligent

We’re carefully guarding our rum

We don’t bother guarding the convicts

We’re too busy sampling some

After days on the high rollin’ ocean

We finally come to the shore

And the captain who’s sailin’ in front of us

Says keep goin’ north a bit more


So eventually most of us made it

To the swamp land at Botany Bay

And before we could get our feet dry again

Captain says that we aint goin’ to stay