6. A More Suitable Place

A More Suitable Place


A God-Forsaken Waterway


The bay of Kamay, now known as Botany Bay, was not as Captain Cook had described it. The ground was sandy and swampy and there was a lack of fresh water. It was considered an unsuitable place to start a colony. Lieutenant Ralph Clark described it like this…

“If we are obliged to settle here, there will not a soul be left alive in the course of a year.”

Let The Captain and His Men


Convicts and jailers were kept in the ships while Arthur Phillip and his officers explored Botany Bay and the surrounding area. During that week, the sailors and soldiers had time on shore.

Journals record the first words spoken by the local Aboriginal people to the Europeans: “Whurra, Whurra!”  meaning “Go away!” There were some nervous encounters between the First Fleet officials and  Aboriginal people – but mostly, Aboriginal people kept a distance. Each account of brief communication ends with Aboriginal people telling the strangers to go away. It was common for Europeans to be asked to reveal what lay beneath their trousers – this was thought to be to determine what sex they were – but another reason was that certain spirit ancestors were believed to have a tail like a kangaroo. Aboriginal people of Botany Bay soon discovered that the Europeans were in fact, human after all.

Arthur Phillip explored the next bay north (Tuhbowgule). He decided to establish the colony in this place, which he named Port Jackson.  To him and his officials, it seemed lush and beautiful. His words to Lord Sydney are as follows…

“We… 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.”

First Offences


While Phillip and his team were surveying Port Jackson and Broken Bay, two French ships arrived. They were La Boussole and L’Astrolabe, commanded by Francois de la Perouse.

Aboriginal people reacted angrily when the French people cut their way through the rushes looking for water. The French reacted with gunfire. Another first experience with guns occured when Surgeon White demonstrated a pistol by shooting through a shield. This caused quite a commotion with the group. He whistled a tune as a distraction and the group joined in with him.

The Move From Botany Bay to Port Jackson


The ships would have been an interesting sight as they left the bay, Friendship rammed Prince of Wales, Charlotte just missed the rocks and bumped into Friendship while Lady Penrhyn just missed ramming her amidships.’

“Let’s be on our way”



A More Suitable Place


I have come to a great conclusion

regarding Botany Bay

When we can find a more
suitable place

We’ll be on our way

The land is swampy everywhere

How could we get our ships in there?

With the shallow water in this bay

It’s a God-forsaken waterway!

Let the Captain and his men

Survey the sand – ’till then

We’ll keep well clear of the natives here

And drink a round or maybe ten!!

I have come to a great conclusion

regarding Botany Bay

It seems we’ve found a more suitable place

Let’s be on our way