Botany BayTo Places
Located on the eastern coast of Sydney, Botany Bay was originally the land of the Kameygal Aboriginal people until the arrival of Captain James Cook in 1770. Named 'Stingray Harbour' by Cook, this coastal inlet is perhaps the birthplace of modern day Australia. Cook's descriptions of the land discovered around the bay would form the basis for the British Government deciding upon Australia as the location for their new penal colony. The bay would be renamed in honour of Endeavour botanist Joseph Banks who found and documented a number of new species of native flora in the land and waterways around the bay, several of which were named after Banks. When the First Fleet arrived to the east coast of Australia following Cook's instructions in 1778, they bypassed Botany Bay for Sydney Harbour further north, as the deeper harbour was deemed a more suitable place for mooring their ships.
The land that is now the suburb of Botany Bay is part of several land grants made in the early 1800s. Amongst these was a substantial grant to emancipated convict Simeon Lord, who utilised the area's waterways to establish a woollen mill and later a wool mill in the 1820s. Mill Pond and Engine Pond remain today as a reminder of Lord's early industrial uses of the suburb. The well irrigated land which had market gardeners move to the area in the 1830s, saw the government turn to Botany Bay as an alternative water supply for the colony when existing sources began to dry up in the 1850s. Yet as factories such as tanneries and wool works proliferated around the reservoir, this water source would also expire, and by 1869 new dams at Nepean would provide Sydney with its water with Botany Bay remaining as a backup supply until 1886.
With small pockets of residential development to house the workers employed at the suburb's many factories, Botany Bay would become one of the most polluted in Sydney. A lack of laws governing the disposal of industrial waste saw factories fill the bay and the Cooks River with their untreated slops and by-products, and the suburb became notorious for the noxious smell which rose from these waterways. Complaints from residents eventually saw the local council take concerted efforts to clean up the waterways and with waste disposal eventually legislated, the Bay, Cooks River and other creeks would become significantly cleaner.
Perhaps the most significant industrial developments for the Botany Bay area would occur in the 1920s when the site for the new International Australian airport was proposed for the neighbouring suburb of Mascot. A decade later saw the construction of Sydney's largest trading port at Port Botany. Both continue to operate today, with almost all commercial shipping processed at Port Botany whilst Kingsford Smith Airport remains the primary airport for New South Wales.
Despite the area's industrial profile, the suburb of Botany once favoured by picnickers and day trippers in the late 1800s reintroduced this recreational emphasis in the Centenary celebrations of 1988, with the reopening of the Sir Joseph Banks Pleasure Gardens. An annual athletics carnival known as the Botany Bay Gift is held in the gardens and is today one of the most prestigious athletics events in Australia. After almost 100 years of pollution and industrial decimation of the landscape, environmental concerns are today at the forefront of initiatives led by the Botany Bay Council. Local industry must now meet rigorous standards and the air and water quality is closely monitored, whilst the replanting of trees and native flora aims to revitalise this suburb.