First FleetTo History
In May of 1787, eleven ships set out from England's Portsmouth Harbour bound for Australia. Captained by Arthur Phillip, the fleet carrying over 1500 convicts and marines was to set up a fledgling penal colony on the shores of Botony Bay in an expedition that would come to be known as the First Fleet.
Arriving some 8 months later on January 26th 1788, the fleet abandoned Captain Cook's recommendation of settling in Botany Bay, with Captain Phillip establishing his colony in nearby Port Jackson due to its fresh water sources and its conveniently deep harbour. With few practical agricultural skills, poor building tools and bad morale, the colony was patently ill-equipped to build a community and the promised lush grazing land and temperate climate seemed fantastical when compared to the arid, scrub-filled plains baking under a searing summer sun that they found.
The following years of settlement would prove to be the hardest for the colony, completely reliant on sporadic visits from trading ships for food and supplies, it took several years for the community to become self sufficient. England continued to send its convicts to Australia for the following 60 years with an estimated 162,000 criminals dispatched to Australia over this time.