Australian Quotes & Notes

The Quotes - Ancient Times until 1850

The chronological story of Australia in the very words of those who were there ... from Captain James Cook's sighting of the southeast coast on 19 April, 1770, to, well, just the other day ... !

But first, the Very Olden days ...

THEY'VE always been there, the gatherers of quotable quotes: scribblers and pasters, whisperers, collectors and disseminators of scandalous gossip. You knew them, didn't you? In another life? Who do you think passed on the rumour in the olden days, long before the birth of Christ, about Terra Australis? It might have been Pythagorus and his disciples, about 500BC. Or Hipparchus, at Rhodes, in 150BC. The news hardly swept through the bazaars like wildfire. But smart chatterers moved the idea along.

Claudius Ptolemy, pondering in Alexandria around 140AD, heard the chit-chat and developed the idea. Basically, the theory was that a giant southern continent stretched, unbroken, from Asia to the South Pole and beyond. This great land mass balanced the Northern Hemisphere. It became the Accepted Wisdom for hundreds of years. But it was just pub talk which wouldn't be exposed until that myth-buster, James Cook, came sailing along in 1773.

Luis de Torres sailed through the strait which bears his name in 1606, thus demolishing that part of the theory which had Terra Australis connected to New Guinea, and Asia to the north. Dutch explorers were already nibbling at the northern and western coasts. The Batavia-based Abel Tasman found Tasmania and New Zealand in 1642 and, in fact, completed the first circumnavigation of Australia without seeing the mainland. But he made no claims to destroy the myth of Terra Australis . The Terra Australis School of Windbags were still on safe, but shaky, ground. They could insist still that Australia was joined to Antarctica.

But in 1773, James Cook, on his second voyage to the Pacific, sailed west-east between Australia and Antarctica on a southerly circumnavigation of the world. Terra Australis was no more! Indeed, there was no evidence until explorers saw land in 1820 that Antarctica was anything other than ice. But eastern Australia, claimed by Cook for Britain in 1770, became ripe for colonisation at a most convenient time. Britain loved dumping her unwanted citizens overseas, and was about to lose her American colonies. And guess where she was going to send them?

There were no professional gossip-mongers aboard the First Fleet in 1787-1788. Indeed, the first in the new colony was George Howe, a former London Times man, who arrived in Sydney in 1800 under the embarrassing burden of a life sentence for shoplifting. A petty crime, indeed, considering capital offences committed by brethren of his craft against the English language that have followed! He was appointed government printer immediately. His Sydney Gazette and New South Wales Advertiser appeared on 5 March, 1803.

Howe and the early diarists and letter writers became Australia's first folk historians. This gathering of words draws on their reflections, in their own observations and those who followed, of life in Australia from 1770, when Joseph Banks recorded his first impression of eastern Australia, to the year 2005.

1. 1770-1799

'Much warmer than Britain and ten times as large' ... (London ditty, 19 December, 1786)

IN June, 1768, the first French circumnavigator, Louis-Antoine de Bougainville, wandering west along the fifteenth parallel, heard a fearsome roar ahead. 'This was the voice of God and we obeyed it,' he wrote in his log. So he avoided a collision with the Almighty, steered north and discovered the island which bears his name. Alas, Bougainville, reputedly possessor of the most awesome intellect in the Pacific, had made a terrible blunder. The sound he heard was the surf breaking on the Great Barrier Reef and he had missed the chance of claiming eastern Australia for Louis XV. In England, at the same time, Captain James Cook was preparing the barque Endeavour , a converted collier and eminently functional vessel, for his own voyage to the Pacific by way of Cape Horn. With him, he had the wealthy botanist, Joseph Banks, aged twenty-six, and his party.

The Endeavour sailed from Plymouth on 26 August, 1768. It was ostensibly a voyage of curiosity. Banks was a Fellow of the Royal Society and he was charged with observing the transit of Venus from Tahiti. Cook belonged to the Admiralty and his orders were then to proceed on 'further discoveries of the great Southern continent'. Banks was not an ecologist in the 21st century sense; he belonged to the 'if it moves, shoot it' school, exotic human beings excepted. On 5 February, 1769, approaching Tahiti, he shot an albatross and left to posterity this method of dressing these great birds: Skin them over night and soak their carcass in Salt water till morn, then parboil them and throw away the water, then stew them well with very little water and when sufficiently tender serve them up with a savoury sauc e. He was not aware of the dire consequences of shooting albatrosses and, anyway, Samuel Taylor Coleridge did not write Rime of the Ancient Mariner for another thirty years.

They reached Tahiti on 13 April, 1769, shot one native, flogged the ship's butcher, observed Venus and enjoyed the usual fruits of a visit to that sublime location. One day, Banks, who had a lamentable excess of testosterone, narrowly avoided a duel with the ship's surgeon over several sun-ripened maidens he was entertaining in his tent. He was able to make the learned comment later: In the Island of Otaheiti (Tahiti) where Love is the Chief Occupation, nay almost the Sole Luxury of the inhabitants; both the bodies and souls of the women are modelled into the utmost perfection for that soft science, idleness the Father of love reigns here in almost unmolested ease ... Sadly, they left this paradise and sailed southwest, touching several islands until, on 6 October, 1769 'a small boy who was at the masthead called out Land'. This was the north island of New Zealand. Cook circumnavigated and mapped the islands and clashed bloodily with the Maoris. The Maoris, he discovered, were far less cordial than their tropical cousins at Tahiti. Cook claimed New Zealand for Britain and made west-north-west, drawn slowly by the current, until, after nearly three anxious weeks, Lieut Zachary Hicks sighted land. The first European observers noted smoke rising from the Gippsland forests, probably caused by lightning strikes rather than the activities, deliberate or careless of the aborigines. On this stretch of coastline, Cook formed the notion that the land should be called New South Wales.

Ready to sail for Terra Australis

Dispatched an express to London for Mr Banks and Dr Solander to join the ship, their servants and baggage being already on board. - Captain James Cook's journal, Plymouth (England), 14 August, 1768.

• Cook was impatient to begin Endeavour's great voyage, but his important companions, Joseph Banks and Daniel Solander, were still enjoying London society. Banks, in fact, was at the opera wooing Harriet Blosset, a young heiress, but on his return to England he apparently found her in the arms of another, and eventually married Dorothea Hugessen in 1779.

Land of the Long White Cloud

At half past one a small boy who was at the masthead called out land. - Botanist Joseph Banks' journal, Endeavour , 6 October, 1769.

• The small boy was Nicholas Young, aged about 12 and Endeavour's youngest sailor. He had sighted the area around Poverty Bay, on the east side of New Zealand's north island. But was it part of Terra Australis ? Banks thought so.

Banks' early vain hopes of Terra Australis

In the evening a pleasant breeze. At sunset all hands at the masthead; land still distant seven or eight leagues (35-40km), appears larger than ever in many parts, three, four and five ranges are seen one over the other, and a chain of mountains over all, some of which appear enormously high. Much difference of opinion and many conjectures about islands, rivers etc, but all hands seem to agree that this is certainly the continent we are in search of. - Botanist Joseph Banks' journal, off Poverty Bay (NZ), 6 October, 1769.

• Cook didn't agree that they had found Terra Australis . So, after spending the summer charting New Zealand and claiming it for the British Crown, he continued the voyage westwards across the Tasman Sea.

Terra Australis at last!

With the first light this morn the land was seen. I have named it Point Hicks because Lieutenant Hicks was the first who discovered this land. - Capt James Cook, Endeavour , off the Gippsland coast, 19 April, 1770.

• Zachary Hicks, stationed in the crow's nest, finally sighted land. The crew had been forewarned two days earlier when a land-bird perched in the rigging. (Hicks died of consumption on 26 May, 1771, in the Atlantic when Endeavour was on its homeward run.)

'Every hill seemed clothed with trees ...'

The country this morn rose in gentle sloping hills which had the appearance of the highest fertility, every hill seemed clothed with trees of no mean size; at noon a smoke was seen a little way inland, and in the evening several more. - Botanist Joseph Banks, Endeavour, 20 April, 1770.

• This was Banks' first clear look at southeastern Australia, between Point Hicks and the present seaside town of Mallacoota, where the rugged mountains of east Gippsland give way to undulating coastal hills. Two days later, they sighted their first aborigines somewhere near Bermagui, on the NSW south coast. Australian aborigines had been given a bad press by earlier explorers, especially William Dampier, on the west coast of the continent. In 1688, he declared them to be the most miserable people on earth .

Aborigines on the beach

After this we steer'd along the shore NNE having a gentle breeze at SW and were so near the shore as to distinguish several people upon the sea beach. They appeared to be of a very dark, or black, colour; but whether this was the real colour of their skin or the clothes they might have on, I know not. - Capt James Cook, Endeavour , north of Bateman's Bay, 22 April, 1770.

• This was the crew's first close study of the aborigines, although Banks reported seeing some from a greater distance earlier.

Bound for Botany Bay

At daylight in the morning we discovered a Bay which appeared to be tolerably well sheltered from all winds into which I resolved to go with the ship and with this view sent the Master in the Pinnace to sound the entrance. - Capt James Cook, Endeavour , off Botany Bay, 28 April, 1770.

Anchored in Botany Bay

In the PM winds southerly clear weather with which we stood into the Bay and anchored under the southern shore about 2 mile from the entrance. - Capt James Cook, Endeavour , inside Botany Bay, 29 April, 1770.

First white man ashore on Australia's east coast

Isaac, you shall land first. - Capt James Cook, Endeavour , Botany Bay, 29 April, 1770.

• Cook introduced nepotism to eastern Australia, giving Midshipman Isaac Smith, his wife's cousin, the opportunity to be first white man ashore. An old woman washing mussels by the shore looked up briefly, then pretended to ignore the Endeavour . An aboriginal male threw a rock at the invaders; Cook replied with a musketry, thus establishing the long-term misunderstanding between the races.

(Cook's landing in Botany Bay: Ghosted Version)

In September, 1771, two months after James Cook brought the Endeavour back to England, the Admiralty hired a ghostwriter, John Hawkesworth, a slick journalist with an honorary doctorate of letters (he was a pal of Dr Samuel Johnson's) to combine all the British explorers' accounts of their voyages to the Pacific. This was published in 1773. Here is Hawkesworth's cut-and-paste version of the events in Botany Bay on 29 April, 1770, ostensibly in Cook's words ...

The place where the ship had anchored (in Botany Bay) was abreast of a small village consisting of about six or eight houses, and while we were preparing to haul out the boat, we saw an old woman, followed by three children, come out of the wood. She was loaded with firewood, and each of the children also had its little burden. When she came to the houses, three more children, younger than the others, came out to meet her. She often looked at the ship, but expressed neither fear nor surprise. In a short time she kindled a fire and the four canoes came in from fishing. The men landed, and having hauled up their boats, began to dress their dinner, to all appearance wholly unconcerned about us though we were within half a mile of them. We thought it remarkable of all the people we had yet seen, not one had the least appearance of clothing, the old woman herself being destitute of even a fig leaf.

After dinner the boats were manned and we set out from the ship, having Tupia (a Tahitian priest) of our party. We intended to land where we saw the people and began to hope that as they so little regarded the ship's coming into the bay, they would as little regard our coming of shore. In this, however, we were disappointed, for as soon as we approached the rocks, two of the men came down upon them to dispute our landing and the rest ran away. Each of the two champions was armed with a lance about ten feet long and a short stick which he seemed to handle as if it was a machine to assist him in managing or throwing the lance. They called to us in a very loud tone and in a harsh dissonant language of which neither we nor Tupia understood a single word. They brandished their weapons and seemed resolved to defend their coast to the utmost, though they were but two and we were forty. I could not but admire their courage, and being very unwilling that hostilities should commence with such inequality of force between us, I ordered the boat to lie about her oars. We then parlayed by signs for about a quarter of an hour, and to bespeak their goodwill I threw them nails, beads, and other trifles which they took up and seemed well pleased with. I then made signs that I wanted water and, by all the means that I could devise, endeavoured to convince them that we would do no harm. They then waved to us and I was willing to interpret it as an invitation but upon our putting the boat in, they came again to oppose us. One appeared to be a youth about nineteen or twenty and the other a man of middle age. As I had no other resource I fired a musket between them. Upon the report, the youngest dropped a bundle of lances upon the rock but recollecting himself in an instant he snatched them up again with great haste. A stone was then thrown at us, upon which I ordered a musket to be fired with small shot, which struck the eldest upon the legs and he immediately ran to one of the houses which was distant about 100 yards. I hoped now that our contest was over and we immediately landed; but we had scarcely left the boat when he returned and we then perceived that he had left the rock only to fetch a shield or target for his defence. As soon as he came up, he threw a lance at us, and his comrade another; they fell where we stood thickest, but happily hurt nobody. A third musket with small shot was then fired upon them, upon which one of them threw another lance and both immediately ran away. If we had pursued, we might have taken one of them, but Mr Banks suggesting that the lance might be poisoned, I thought it prudent not to venture into the woods.

• Hawkesworth's book, a blend of the journals of Cook and Banks, was not well received (Cook claimed not to have been consulted) and the spurned author fell ill and died soon after publication. Some said it was suicide. The man chiefly responsible for its commissioning, the 4th Earl of Sandwich, meanwhile, invented the sandwich so he didn't have to leave the London gaming tables to eat, while Cook named the Sandwich Islands (Hawaii) after him and was killed there soon afterwards.

On 1 May, 1770, having assured their beachhead at Botany Bay, Cook led the first-ever expedition into the interior of eastern Australia. Alas, they failed to stumble upon the sparkling waters of Port Jackson, 15km north ... Mr Banks, Dr Solander, myself, and seven others, properly accoutred for the expedition, set out and repaired first to the huts near the watering-place, whither some of the natives continued every day to resort. And although the little presents which we had left there before had not yet been taken away, we left other of somewhat more value, consisting of cloth, looking glasses, combs, and beads, and then went up into the country. We found the soil to be either swamp or light sand, and the face of the country lightly diversified by wood and lawn. The trees are tall, straight, and without underwood, standing at such a distance from each other that the whole country, at least where the swamps do not render it incapable of cultivation, might be cultivated without cutting down one of them. Between the trees, the ground is covered with grass, of which there is great abundance, growing in tufts as big as can well be grasped in the hand, which stand very close to each other. We saw many houses of the inhabitants and places where they had slept upon the grass without any shelter, but we only saw one of the people, who the moment he discovered us ran away. At all these places, we left presents, hoping that at length they might produce confidence and goodwill.

Sydney Harbour sighted, but not explored

The great quantity of plants Mr Banks and Dr Solander collected in this place occasioned my giving it the name of Botany Bay ... in the morning weighed with a light breeze at NW and put to sea ... at noon abreast of a Bay or Harbour where there appeared to be safe anchorage which I called Port Jackson . - Capt James Cook, Endeavour , at sea, 6 May, 1770.

• Cook named the harbour after a friend, Sir George Jackson.

Went to sea this morn with a fair breeze of wind. The land we sailed past during the whole forenoon appeared broken and likely for harbours. - Botanist Joseph Banks, barque Endeavour , 6 May, 1770.

• The Endeavour left Botany Bay and headed north, passing the entrance to Port Jackson, 20km away and future site of Sydney. Cook noted the Heads, but made no effort to explore beyond them. Had he done so, he might have saved Governor Arthur Phillip considerable anxiety 18 years later. Phillip found the lack of fresh water, in particular, made the Botany Bay site unsuitable for settlement.

We dined today upon the stingray and his tripe: the fish was not quite so good as skate nor was it much inferior, the tripe everybody thought excellent. We had it with a dish of the leaves of tetragonal cornuta (Tetragonia expansa, New Zealand spinach) boiled, which eats as well as spinach or very near it. - Botanist Joseph Banks, barque Endeavour , 6 May, 1770.

Endeavour's crew caught huge stingrays in Botany Bay. The place was briefly dubbed Stingray Bay, but Cook insisted on its present name.

This passage I have named Whitsunday's Passage as it was discovered on the day the church commemorates that Festival - Capt James Cook, inside the Great Barrier Reef, 4 June, 1770.

Endeavour strikes the Great Barrier Reef!

Some hands employed sewing ockham wool & into a lower studding sail to father the Ship, others employed at the pumps which still gained upon the leak. - Capt James Cook, barque Endeavour , north of Cape Tribulation, north Queensland, 11 June, 1770.

Endeavour had the dubious honour of being the first ship grounded on the Great Barrier Reef.

No oaths were muttered on sinking (?) ship

All this time, the seamen worked with surprising cheerfulness and alacrity. No grumbling or growling was to be heard throughout the ship, no not even an oath (though the ship in general was as well furnished with them as in most of His Majesty's service). - Botanist Joseph Banks' journal, Endeavour , north of Cape Tribulation, 11 June, 1770.

• Banks had none of the seaman's' optimism. He began packing his possessions into a longboat.

High tide imminent! Will be ship be saved?

The dreadful time now approached and the anxiety in everybody's countenance was visible enough: the capstan and the windlass were manned and they began to heave; fear of death now stared us in the face; hopes we had none but of being able to keep the ship afloat till we could run her ashore on some part where out of her materials we might build a vessel large enough to carry us to the East Indies. - Botanist Joseph Banks' journal, Endeavour , north of Cape Tribulation (Qld), 11 June, 1770.

• But free her they did and, on 22 June, she was brought into the Endeavour River and beached at the present site of Cooktown. Cook reported on the damage wrought by the coral: The rocks had made their way through four planks, and even into the timbers; three more planks were much damaged and the appearance of these breaches was very extraordinary: there was not a splinter to be seen, but all was as smooth as if the whole had been cut away by an instrument.

Cooktown ... and their first kangaroo

The captain and myself went ashore to view the harbour and found it indeed beyond our most sanguine wishes: it was the mouth of a river the entrance of which was, to be sure, narrow enough and shallow but, when once in, the ship might be moored afloat so near the shore that, by a stage from her to it, all her cargo might be got out and in again in a very short time; in this same place she might be hove down with all ease ... - Botanist Joseph Banks, Endeavour River, north Queensland, 14 June, 1770

In gathering plants today, I myself had the good fortune to see the beast so much talked of ... he was not only like a greyhound in size and running, but had a long tail, as long as any greyhounds; what to liken him to I could not tell, nothing certainly that I have seen at all resembles him. - Botanist Joseph Banks, Endeavour River, north Queensland, 25 June, 1770.

• Banks had seen his first kangaroo. Indeed, the local aborigines supplied them with a name which they diligently wrote down: kangaroo. On 15 July, they ate their first and Banks pronounced it excellent. Other members of the party sighted even more bizarre creatures: a seaman reported seeing one as large as a 'one gallon keg, and very like it; he had horns and wings, yet he crept so slowly through the grass that if I had not been afraid I might have touched him'. Readers, of course, may (or may not) recognise this as the common lurking fruit bat, or flying fox!

One of our midshipmen, an American who was out shooting today, saw a wolf, perfectly, he said, like those he had seen in America; he shot at it but did not kill it. - Botanist Joseph Banks, Endeavour River, north Queensland, 29 June, 1770.

• The midshipman, probably James Matra (see 28 July, 1783) had possibly made the first east coast European sighting of a dingo.

From James Cook's Voyages, 1768-1779 (ghosted by James Hawkesworth) ... The next morning (Wednesday, 11 July, 1770), we had another visit from four of the natives. Three of them had been with us before but the fourth was a stranger whose name, as we learned from his companions who introduced him, was Yaparico. This gentleman was distinguished by an ornament of a very striking appearance: it was the bone of a bird, nearly as thick as a man's finger and five or six inches long, which he had thrust into a hole made in the gristle that divides the nostrils. Of this we had seen one instance, and only one, in New Zealand but upon examination we found that among all these people this part of the nose was perforated to receive an ornament of the same kind. They also had holes in their ears, though nothing was hanging to them, and had bracelets upon the upper parts of their arms, made of plaited hair, so that, like the inhabitants of Terra del Fuego, they seem to be fond of ornament, though they are absolutely without apparel and one of them, to whom I had given part of an old shirt, instead of throwing it over any part of his body, tied it as a fillet around his head. They brought with them fish which they gave us, as we supposed, in return for the fish we had given them the day before. They seem to be much pleased and in no haste to leave us, but seeing some of our gentlemen examine their canoe with great curiosity and attention, they alarmed, and jumping immediately into it, paddled away without speaking a word. - Capt James Cook, Endeavour River, north Queensland, 11 July, 1770.

• Cook noted that the aborigines always made formal, introductions, by name, of any stranger they brought with them.

The 'roar of the surf' nearing Cape York

A little after four o'clock the roar of the surf was plainly heard, and at daybreak the vast, foaming breakers were too plainly seen not a mile from us, towards which we found the ship was carried by the waves surprisingly fast. We had not an air of wind and the depth of water was unfathomable, so there was not a possibility of anchoring. - Capt James Cook, approaching the tip of Cape York Peninsula, 16 August, 1770.

• Cook had cleared Lizard Island, (which he named in honour of the monitor lizard which inhabited it) northeast of Cooktown and set out on the final 500km to Cape York. He was desperate to break away from the clutches of the Great Barrier Reef and discover whether Torres Strait actually existed. He was not to know it, but he was almost there.

Possession of eastern Australia in King George's name

At four o'clock in the afternoon we anchored; the channel here began to widen so we conceived hopes of having at last found a passage into the Indian Sea. However, that I might be able to determine with more certainty, I resolved to land upon the island which lies at the southeast point of the passage. Upon this island we had seen many of the inhabitants when we first came to anchor, and when I went into the boat with a party of men, accompanied by Mr Banks and Dr Solander, in order to go ashore, we saw ten of them upon a hill; nine of them were armed with such lances as we had been used to see on the mainland, and the tenth had a bow and a bundle of arrows which we had never seen in the possession of the natives of this country before. When we came within a musket's shot of the beach they walked leisurely away. We immediately climbed the highest hill which was not more than three times as high as the masthead and the most barren of any we had seen. As I was now about to quit the eastern coast of New Holland, which I am confident no European had ever seen before , I hoisted English colours and took possession of the whole eastern coast in right of His Majesty King George the Third, by the name of New South Wales. We then fired three volleys of small arms which were answered by the same number from the ship. Having performed this ceremony upon the island, which we called Possession Island, we re-embarked. - Capt James Cook, Possession Island, Cape York, 22 August, 1770.

• Cook was safe from the coral reefs at last. His final gesture was to claim an ill-defined area of eastern Australia for his king. The Dr (Daniel) Solander Cook mentions was the plump, jovial Swedish botanist who shared Banks' London house.

Australia and New Guinea ARE separate

In the meantime the wind had got to the S. W.; it was but a gentle breeze. yet it was accompanied by a swell from the same quarter which, with other circumstances, confirmed my opinion that we were got to the westward of ... the northern extremity of New Holland, and had now an open sea to the westward, which give me great satisfaction, not only because the dangers and fatigues of the voyage were drawing to an end, but because it would no longer be a doubt whether New Holland and New Guinea were two separate islands, or different parts of the same. - Captain James Cook, Endeavour , off Cape York, 23 August, 1770.

• Cook made his way through Endeavour Strait for Batavia ( now Djakarta ), the capital of the Dutch East Indies, which he reached on 11 October. The Endeavour underwent further repairs for the long journey home to Britain on Boxing Day, 1770. Cook made two more voyages to the Pacific. He was killed by islanders at Hawaii on 14 February, 1779.

Cook sails to icy south, where no man has gone before

On 9 April, 1772, James Cook sailed from the Thames in the Resolution , accompanied by the Adventure (Tobias Furneaux). Their task was to improve man's knowledge of the geography of the earth by a southerly circumnavigation ... and disprove the myth of a land mass called Terra Australis by sailing through it. But first, Cook wrote .. . the Resolution was found to be very crank (handling poorly) which made it necessary to put into Sheerness in order to remove this evil by making some alterations in her upper works ... (in other words, remove an upper deck built to accommodate Sir Joseph Banks and his entourage of sixteen, including musicians. This had the desired effect of causing Banks to withdraw in a temper from the expedition!) Being thus rid of this non-nautical burden, they sailed south and on 17 January, 1773 (the Adventure having lost the Resolution in fog), Cook reported ... As the wind remained invariably fixed at E. and E. by S., I continued to stand to the south, and on the 17th, between eleven and twelve o'clock we crossed the Antarctic Circle (the first to do so) in the longitude of 39deg 35min E for at noon we were by observation in the latitude of 66deg 36min 30-sec south. The weather was now becoming tolerably clear so that we could see several leagues round us and yet we had only seen one island of ice since the morning. But about 4 p.m. as we were steering to the south, we observed the whole sea in a manner covered with ice, from the direction of SE, round by the south to west.

They had struck the Antarctic ice cap, 4000km south of the Cape of Good Hope, Africa.

In this space, thirty-eight ice islands great and small were seen, besides loose ice in abundance, so that were were obliged to luff for one piece and bear up for another and, as we continued to advance to the south, it increased in such a manner that at three-quarters past six, being then in a latitude of 67deg 15min south, we could proceed no further, the ice being entirely closed in the south ...

• Cook and the Resolution made for New Zealand, where they found Furneaux and the Adventure , and sailed through Cape Horn to complete their southern circumnavigation. And Terra Australis Incognito was no more.

1773: Boston 'Tea Party', 16 December ('no taxation without representation') foreshadows American War of Independence.

 1776: American Declaration of Independence signed, 4 July, as James Cook prepares to leave Plymouth on his third voyage to the Pacific.

1777: Cook touches VDL, describes the natives

In 1776, Cook left England on his fateful third voyage to the Pacific, via the Cape of Good Hope. On 27 January, 1777, they were in Adventure Bay, Van Diemens Land, named when Toby Furneaux and the Adventure stopped there in 1773. This time, Cook had two ships, the Resolution and the Discovery . They were replenishing their vessels when ...

In the afternoon, we were agreeably surprised, at the place where we were cutting wood, with a visit from some of the natives: eight men and a boy. They approached us from the woods, without betraying any marks of fear, or rather with the greatest confidence imaginable; for none of them had any weapons, except one, who held in his hand a stick about two feet long and pointed at one end.

They were quite naked and wore no ornaments unless we consider as such, and as proof on their love of finery, some large punctures or ridges raised on different parts of their bodies, some in straight, and others in curved lines.

They were of common stature but rather slender. Their skin was black, and also their hair which was woolly as any native of Guinea; but they were not distinguished by remarkable thick lips, nor flat noses. On the contrary, their features were far from being disagreeable. They had pretty good eyes and their teeth were tolerably even, but very dirty. Most of them had their hair and beards smeared with a red ointment and some had their faces also painted with the same composition.

Banks' evidence favours Botany Bay

That the Place which appeared to him best adapted for such a Purpose, was Botany Bay, on the coast of New Holland, in the Indian Ocean, which was about Seven Months Voyage from England... - Summary of Joseph Banks' evidence to the Parliamentary Committee on Transportation, London, 1779.

• Banks, senior naturalist with Cook's expedition which claimed eastern Australia for Britain, strongly promoted the case for settlement in Australia until his death in 1820. His friends, the wealthy Blaxland brothers, Gregory and John, were among those he encouraged to migrate in 1805-6. They were Australia's first 'business migrants'.

Matra's plea to return to Botany Bay

I would prefer embarking in such (a convict settlement in NSW) to anything I am likely to get in this hemisphere. - Letter from James Matra to Joseph Banks, London, 28 July, 1783.

• Matra, who had been with James Cook in 1770, was a strong lobbyist for the colony at Botany Bay. But his motives in writing to Banks, England's self-appointed expert on NSW, were not entirely altruistic. He hoped to have himself appointed to any expedition to Botany Bay in the hope, perhaps, of securing a land grant and raising himself from the genteel poverty to which he was condemned in the Old Country.

1783: American War of Independence ends, 3 September, with the signing of the Treaty of Paris.

 1784: Death in London, 16 December, of Dr Samuel Johnson, author of A Dictionary of the English Language (1755)

Britain needs a new convict dump

That in a few Days the Number of Prisoners in his Custody will amount to 600 ... that the present number is double of what it usually was Five or Six years ago ... - Evidence of Richard Ackerman, Governor of Newgate Gaol, London, 1785.

• The final loss of the American colonies in 1783 as a convenient dumping ground for its unwanted felony was felt keenly in England. The British Government sent about 30,000 prisoners to America during the 18th century, but afterwards was obliged to confine them in crowded jails or aboard hulks in English ports.

1777: Cook touches VDL, describes the natives

In 1776, Cook left England on his fateful third voyage to the Pacific, via the Cape of Good Hope. On 27 January, 1777, they were in Adventure Bay, Van Diemens Land, named when Toby Furneaux and the Adventure stopped there in 1773. This time, Cook had two ships, the Resolution and the Discovery . They were replenishing their vessels when ...

In the afternoon, we were agreeably surprised, at the place where we were cutting wood, with a visit from some of the natives: eight men and a boy. They approached us from the woods, without betraying any marks of fear, or rather with the greatest confidence imaginable; for none of them had any weapons, except one, who held in his hand a stick about two feet long and pointed at one end.

They were quite naked and wore no ornaments unless we consider as such, and as proof on their love of finery, some large punctures or ridges raised on different parts of their bodies, some in straight, and others in curved lines.

They were of common stature but rather slender. Their skin was black, and also their hair which was woolly as any native of Guinea; but they were not distinguished by remarkable thick lips, nor flat noses. On the contrary, their features were far from being disagreeable. They had pretty good eyes and their teeth were tolerably even, but very dirty. Most of them had their hair and beards smeared with a red ointment and some had their faces also painted with the same composition.

Banks' evidence favours Botany Bay

That the Place which appeared to him best adapted for such a Purpose, was Botany Bay, on the coast of New Holland, in the Indian Ocean, which was about Seven Months Voyage from England... - Summary of Joseph Banks' evidence to the Parliamentary Committee on Transportation, London, 1779.

• Banks, senior naturalist with Cook's expedition which claimed eastern Australia for Britain, strongly promoted the case for settlement in Australia until his death in 1820. His friends, the wealthy Blaxland brothers, Gregory and John, were among those he encouraged to migrate in 1805-6. They were Australia's first 'business migrants'.

Matra's plea to return to Botany Bay

I would prefer embarking in such (a convict settlement in NSW) to anything I am likely to get in this hemisphere. - Letter from James Matra to Joseph Banks, London, 28 July, 1783.

• Matra, who had been with James Cook in 1770, was a strong lobbyist for the colony at Botany Bay. But his motives in writing to Banks, England's self-appointed expert on NSW, were not entirely altruistic. He hoped to have himself appointed to any expedition to Botany Bay in the hope, perhaps, of securing a land grant and raising himself from the genteel poverty to which he was condemned in the Old Country.

1783: American War of Independence ends, 3 September, with the signing of the Treaty of Paris.

1784: Death in London, 16 December, of Dr Samuel Johnson, author of A Dictionary of the English Language (1755)

Britain needs a new convict dump

That in a few Days the Number of Prisoners in his Custody will amount to 600 ... that the present number is double of what it usually was Five or Six years ago ... - Evidence of Richard Ackerman, Governor of Newgate Gaol, London, 1785.

• The final loss of the American colonies in 1783 as a convenient dumping ground for its unwanted felony was felt keenly in England. The British Government sent about 30,000 prisoners to America during the 18th century, but afterwards was obliged to confine them in crowded jails or aboard hulks in English ports.

Botany Bay given the go-ahead, 18 August, 1786

The several gaols and places for the confinement of felons in this kingdom being in so crowded a state that the greatest danger is to be apprehended, not only from their escape, but from infectious distemper, which may hourly be expected to break out amongst them, His Majesty, desirous of preventing by every possible means the ill consequences which might happen from either of these causes, has been pleased to signify to me his royal commands that measures should immediately be pursued for sending out of this kingdom such of the convicts as are under sentence or order of transportation.

The Nautilus sloop, which, upon the recommendation of a committee of the House of Commons, had been sent to explore the southern coast of Africa, in order to find an eligible situation for the reception of the said convicts, where from their industry they might soon be likely to obtain means of subsistence, having lately returned, and it appearing from the reports of her officers that the several parts of the coast which they examined between 15deg 50 south and the latitude of 33deg are sandy and barren, and from other causes unfit for settlement, His Majesty has thought it advisable to fix on Botany Bay, situated on the coast of New South Wales, the latitude of about 33deg south, which, according to the accounts given by the late Captain Cook, as well as the representatives of persons who accompanied him during his last voyage, and who have been consulted on the subject, is looked upon as a place likely to answer the above purposes.

I am, therefore, commanded to signify to your Lordships His Majesty's pleasure that you do forthwith take such measures as may be necessary for providing a proper number of vessels for the conveyance of 750 convicts to Botany Bay, together with such provisions, necessities, and implements for agriculture as may be necessary for their use after their arrival.

According to the best opinions that can be obtained, it is supposed that a quantity of provisions equal to two years' supply should be provided, which must be issued from time to time, according to the discretion of the superintendent, in the expenditure of which, of course, he will be guided by the proportion of food which the country and labour of the new settlers may produce ...

In the meantime, I have only to recommend it to your Lordships to cause every possible expedition to be used in preparing the shipping for the reception of the said convicts, and for transporting the supplies of provisions and necessities for their use in their place of destination.

.... a plan for effectually disposing of convicts, and rendering their transportation reciprocally beneficial both to themselves and to the State, by the establishment of a colony in New South Wales, a country which, by the fertility and salubrity of the climate, connected with the remoteness of its situation (from whence it is hardly possible for person to return without permission) seems peculiarly adapted to answer the views of Government with respect to providing a remedy for the evils likely to result from the late alarming and numerous increase of felons in this country, and m ore particularly in the metropolis.

.... It is proposed that a ship of war of a proper class, with a part of her guns mounted, and a sufficient number of men on board for her navigation, and a tender of about 200 tons burthen, commanded by discreet officers, should be got ready as soon as possible to serve as an escort to the convict ships and for other purpose hereinafter mentioned.

That, in addition to their crews, they should take on board two companies of Marines to form a military establishment on shore (not only for the protection of the settlement, if required, against the natives, but for the preservation of good order), together with an assortment of stores, utensils, and implements, necessary for erecting habitations for agriculture, and such quantities of provisions as may be proper for the use of the crews.

As many of the Marines as possible should be artificers, such as carpenters, sawyers, smiths, potters (if possible) and some husbandmen. To have a chaplain on board, with a mate; the former to remain at the settlement.

That these vessels should touch at the Cape of Good Hope, or any other places that may be convenient, for any seed that may be requisite be taken from thence, and for such livestock as they can possibly contain, which, it is supposed, can be procured there without any sort of difficulty, and at most reasonable rates, for use of the settlement at large.

That Government should immediately provide a certain number of ships of a proper burthen to receive on board seven or eight hundred convicts, and that one of them should be properly fitted for the accommodation of the women, to prevent their intercourse with the men.

That these ships should take on board as much provision as they can possibly stow, or at least a sufficient quantity for two years' consumption; supposing one year to be issued at whole allowance, and the other year's provisions at half allowance, which will last two years longer, by which time, it is presumed, the colony, with the livestock and grain, which may be raised by common industry on the part of the new settlers, will be fully sufficient for their maintenance and support.

That, in addition to the crews of the ships appointed to contain the convicts, a company of Marines should be divided among them, to be employed as guards for preventing ill consequences that might arise from dissatisfaction amongst the convicts, and for the protection of the crew in the navigation of the ships from insults that might be offered by the convicts.

That each of the ships should have on board at least two surgeons' mates to attend to the wants of the sick, and should be supplied with a proper assortment of medicines and instruments, and that two of them should remain with the settlement.

After the arrival of the ships which are intended to convey the convicts, the ship of war and tender may be employed in obtaining livestock from the Cape, or from the Molokai Islands, a sufficient quantity of which may be brought from either of those places to the new settlement in two or three trips; or the tender, if it should be thought most advisable, may be employed in conveying a further number of women from the Friendly Islands, New Caledonia etc., which are contiguous thereto, and from whence any number may be procured without difficulty; and without a sufficient proportion of that sex it is well-known that it would be impossible to preserve the settlement from gross irregularities and disorders.

The whole regulation and management of the settlement should be committed to the care of a discreet officer, and provision should be made , in all cases, both civil and military, by special instructions under the Great Seal or otherwise, as may be thought proper.

Upon the whole, it may be observed with great force and truth that the difference of expense (whatever the method of carrying the convicts thither may be adopted) that this mode of disposing of them and that of the usual ineffective one is too trivial to be a consideration with Government, at least in comparison with the great object obtained by it, especially now the evil is increased to such an alarming degree, from the inadequacy of all other expedients that have hitherto been tried or suggested.

It may not be amiss to remark in favour of this plan that considerable advantages will arise from the cultivation of New Zealand hemp, or flax plant, in the new intended settlements, the supply of which would be of great consequence to us as a naval power, as our manufacturers are of the opinion that canvas made of it would be superior in strength and beauty to any canvas made of the European material, and that a cable of the circumference of ten inches made from the former would be superior in strength to one of eighteen inches made in the latter. The threads or filaments of this New Zealand plant are former by nature with most exquisite delicacy, and may be so minutely divided as to be manufactured into the finest linens.

Most of the Asiatic productions may also without doubt be cultivated in the new settlement, and in a few years may render our recourse to our European neighbours for those productions unnecessary.

It may also be proper to attend to the possibility of procuring from New Zealand any quantity of masts and ship timber for the use of our Fleets in India, as distance between the two countries is not greater than that between Great Britain and America. It grows to the water's edge, of size and quality to any hitherto known, and may be obtained without difficulty . - Lord Sydney, Secretary for Home Affairs, to Lords Commissioners of the Treasury, London, 18 August, 1786.

• The British Government, having considered the West African coast to be too disease-prone, decided to send its convicts to Botany Bay. There was no suggestion that the Government was embarking on a great and wondrous undertaking. Melbourne University Professor Ernest Scott, in his A Short History of Australia (1916) remarked ... 'in truth, there is no evidence that he ( Prime Minister William Pitt ) even had a glimmering idea that England was founding a great new nation in the southern seas.' In all, about 160,000 convicts arrived in the Australian colonies over the next eighty years. Most went to NSW, which did not accept them after 1840. Van Diemens Land (Tasmania ) continued to take them, reluctantly, until 1852. Convicts were sent to Western Australia, which was suffering a severe labour shortage, from 1850 to 1867.

Arthur Phillip gets his orders

We, by reposing especial trust and confidence in your loyalty, courage and experience in military affairs, do, by these presents, constitute you and appoint you to be Governor of our territory called New South Wales, extending from the northern cape or extremity of the coast called Cape York, in the latitude of 10 deg 37 in the south, to the southern extremity of the said territory of New South Wales or South Cape, in the latitude of 43 deg 39 south, and all the country inland or westward as far as the one hundred and thirty-fifth degree of longitude, reckoning from the meridian of Greenwich, including all the islands adjacent in the Pacific Ocean, within the latitude aforesaid of 10 deg 37 south and 43 deg 39 south, and of all towns, garrisons, castles, forts and all other fortifications, which are now or may be hereafter erected upon this said territory. You are therefore carefully and diligently to discharge the said duty of Governor in and over our said territory all and all manner of things thereunto belonging, and we do hereby strictly charge and command all our officers and soldiers, and others whom it may concern, to obey you as our Governor thereof; and you are to observe and follow orders and directions from time to time as you shall receive from us, or any other your superior officer according to the rules and disciplines of war, and likewise such orders and directions as we shall send you under our signet ring or sign manual, or by our High Treasurer, for the time being, or one of our Principal Secretaries of State, in pursuance of the trust we hereby repose in you. Given at our Court of St James, the twelfth day of October, 1786, in the twenty-sixth year of our reign. - Instruction from the Secretary for Colonies, Lord Sydney, to Captain Arthur Phillip, London, 12 October, 1786.

• Arthur Phillip, first Governor of NSW, was born in London in 1738 and entered the Royal Navy at the age of 13 under a 'poor boy' scheme. He was a captain, known for his reliability and trustworthiness and nothing much else, when Lord Sydney appointed him to NSW. He had been separated from his wife for seventeen years. He resigned his commission in NSW in 1793 and returned to England where died died with the rank of admiral in 1814.

Norfolk Island flax?

Besides the removal of a dreadful Banditti from this country, many advantages are likely to be derived from this intended Settlement. Some of the timber is reported to be suitable for Naval purposes, particularly masts, which the Fleet employed occasionally in the East Indies frequently stand in need of. But above all the cultivation of the Flax plant seems to be the most considerable object. - Letter from the British Government to the Irish Government, October, 1786.

• Senior civil servants, probably having reread James Cook's enthusiastic appraisal of Norfolk Island after his discovery in 1774, were warming to the prospects of a penal outpost in Botany Bay. Indeed, 'Botany Bay' became the generic name for all convict establishments in NSW, but there were never any convicts landed directly there.

The expense will be equal to that of an expedition to the South Sea against an enemy - The Gentleman's Magazine , London, October, 1786.

• The magazine of the idle rich pooped the notion of establishing a penal colony in Australia, saying no place could be 'more improper' for convicts than Botany Bay.

Fun for felons in Sydney is prophesied

For what is the punishment intended to be inflicted? Not to make the felons undergo servitude for the benefit of other as was the Case in America; but to place them as their own masters in a temperate climate, where they have every object of comfort for ambition before them! and although it might be going too far to suppose that this will incite men to become convicts ... surely it cannot deter men inclined to commit theft or Robbery to know that in case they are detected and convicted, all that will happen to them is that they will be sent at Public Expense to a Good Country and a Temperate climate. - Alexander Dalrymple, mapmaker and propagandist, London, 1786.

• Dalrymple didn't realise how close he was to the truth! After word reached London from Sydney about the relatively idyllic conditions by the harbour (for those who stayed out of trouble), there were many people suspected of committing crimes to have themselves transported.

Of those precious souls who for nobody care,

It seems a large cargo the Kingdom can spare;

To ship off a gross or two may not delay,

They cannot too soon go to Botany Bay.

They go to an island to take special charge,

Much warmer than Britain and ten times as large,

No custom-house duty, no freightage to pay,

And tax-free they'll live when at Botany Bay . - Poem from the Whitehall Evening Post , London, 19 December, 1786.

Arthur Phillip's lofty vision of convict Australia

As I would not wish convicts to lay the foundations of an Empire, I think they should ever remain separated from the Garrison, and other settlers that may come from Europe, and not be allowed to mix with them, even after the 7 or 14 years for which they are transported may have expired. - Governor Arthur Phillip, London, 1787.

• Phillip was permitted to indulge in Utopian dreaming about separation of the classes when he was still 12,000 miles from the dreaded shore. He must have forgotten there were to be women transported, too. The normal human desires of his officers and men rapidly put paid to the notion of social segregation.

Naughty! Four convict lasses mate with sailors

This night at 10 o'clock, Lieuts George Johnston and William Collins went down into the Women's Berths and call'd over the names of the Convicts ; found 5 missing; 4 with the sailors and one with Squires the 2nd mate - They ordered all the 5 women to be put in Irons and removed forward and Mr Johnston declared he wd. the next day write to Major Ross at Portsmouth abt. this affair and to have the 2nd mate removed from the ship - for disobeyed the orders of Capt Severs and two Lieuts on board - Very calm weather - This day Lieut Collins recd. a letter from his brother, Capt Collins, in London, who is going wt. the Fleet as judge advocate to the New Settlement, acquainting him that all the business was fully settled respecting the Code of Laws to be in force at Botany Bay or wherever else the Settlement should be formed in New South Wales, and that the Governor (Phillip) wd. certainly be down on Saturday - This day I attend (at the request of Mr Balkan) on the Woman wt. the fractured leg, and removed the Bandage and set it up again; before the Bandage was removed the woman was in the most excruciating pain, but very soon after removing it she became easy and continued so - A corpse sew'd up in a Hammock floated alongside our ship. The Cabin, lately occupied by the 3rd mate Jenkinson, who died of putrid fever the night before I came on board, and was buried at Ryde, was fresh painted and fumigated for me to sleep in. - Journal of surgeon (to the crew) Arthur Bowes Smyth, female transport Lady Penrhyn , Portsmouth, 19 April, 1787.

• One of the convict women who did answer Lieut Johnston's roll call at 10 o'clock that night was 20-year-old Esther Abrahams, who became his mistress and then his wife.

Mild mutiny delays the departure of the First Fleet

When the First Fleet flagship, Sirius , ordered the other ten vessels to weigh anchor on the evening of 12 May, several of the chartered merchant vessels failed to move. The seamen aboard them had staged a snap strike. Here are two versions of what happened ... His Majesty's ship, Hyena, joined us this day, and put herself under the command of Captain Phillip, who had instructions to take her with him as far as he should think needful. In the evening, the Sirius made the signal to weigh, and attempted to get down to St Helen's; but the wind shifting, and several of the convoy not getting under way, through some irregularity in the seamen, she was obliged to anchor. When this was done, Captain Phillip sent Lieutenant King on board the ship which had occasioned the detention, who soon adjusted the difficulties that had arisen; as they were found to proceed more from intoxication than from any nautical causes. - Journal of chief surgeon John White, transport Charlotte , Portsmouth, 12 May, 1787.

• Were the sailors drunk? Not according to Lieut Philip Gidley King (a future Governor of NSW). He reported later: I think the seamen had a little reason on their sides. They had been employ upwards of seven months, during which time they had received no pay except their river pay and one month's advance. The great length of the voyage rendered it necessary that they should have more money to furnish themselves with such necessities as were really indispensable; but it became the masters' interests to withhold their pay from them, that they might be obliged to purchase those necessities from them on the course of the voyage at a very exorbitant rate.

The agonies of a long and distant separation

The Sirius made signal for the whole Fleet to get under way. O Gracious God, send that we may put in at Plymouth ... in our way down that Channel that I may see my dear and fond affectioned Alicia and our sweet son before I leave them for this long absence. - Diary of Marine Lieut. Ralph Clarke, convict transport Friendship , off Portsmouth, 13 May, 1787.

• Clark did not see his wife, Betsy Alicia, or his son, also Ralph until he returned to England in 1792. Then, tragically, they all died in 1794: Betsy in childbirth, Ralph Jnr, a Marine ensign of yellow fever in the West Indies and Clarke, who was killed in action the same day on the same ship. The family line was assured, however: Clarke had a daughter, christened Alicia, by a convict woman, Mary Branham, in Sydney in 1791.

'... their countenances indicated ... satisfaction...'

By ten o'clock we had got clear of the Isle of Wight, at which time, having very little pleasure in conversing with my own thoughts, I strolled down among the convicts, to observe their sentiments at this juncture. A very few excepted, their countenances indicated a high degree of satisfaction, though in some, the pang of being severed, perhaps forever, from their native land, could not be wholly suppressed; in general, marks of distress were more perceptible among the men than the women; for I recollect to have seen but one of those affected by the occasion, 'Some natural tears she dropp'd, but wiped them soon.' After this, the accent of sorrow was no longer heard; more genial skies and change of scene banishing repining and discontent, and introduced in their stead cheerfulness and acquiescence in a lot, now not to be altered. - Capt Lieut Watkin Tench, transport Charlotte , off the Isle of Wight, 13 May, 1787.

Corporal Baker's weapon of mass destruction

An accident of a singular nature happened today. Corporal Baker of the Marines, on laying a loaded musket down, which he had just taken out of the arms chest, was wounded by it in the inner ankle of the right foot. The bones, after being a good deal shattered, turned the ball; which taking another direction, had still force enough to go through a harness-cask of beef, at some distance and, after that, kill two geese ... - Journal of John White, chief surgeon, transport Charlotte , English Channel, 15 May, 1787.

Our very first unmarried mum!

Mr Watts' goat had two Kids, a male and a female ... Isabella Lawson, one of the convicts, was deliver'd of a girl. - Surgeon Arthur Bowes Smyth, female transport Lady Penrhyn , off the Madeiras, 31 May, 1787.

• Lieutenant Watts' goat took social precedence over the convict infant, Lawson. Later, Mr Watts made a bigger goat of himself when, under the influence of strong liquor, he nearly drowned when he fell into Sydney Cove. Note: all First Fleet-born children belonged to the London parish of Stepney.

The marines were now served with wine in lieu of spirits; a pound of fresh beef was likewise daily distributed them, as well as the convicts; today with a pound of rice instead of bread, and such vegetables as could be procured. - Chief Surgeon John White, transport Charlotte , Tenerife, Canary Islands, 3 June, 1787.

A convict, named James Clark, died of dropsy (accumulation of fluid in the body tissues); he had been tapped ten days before, and discharged twelve quarts of water. - Chief Surgeon John White, First Fleet, Tenerife, Canary Islands, 6 June, 1787.

Dirty doings Crossing the Line, reports hypocrite

We crossed the tropical line in 18 deg 20 west longitude, and was nearly pressed on board the Lady Penrhyn transport, whose people did not attend to her steerage, being deeply engaged in sluicing and ducking all those on board who never crossed it. - Chief Surgeon John White, transport Charlotte , 500km southwest of Tenerife, 10 June, 1787.

• Few of the lady convicts would have known the delights of crossing the Tropic of Capricorn before, but they quickly learned how to participate, as the next entry indicates .

... so predominant was the warmth of their constitutions, or the depravity of their hearts, that the hatches over the place where they were confined could not be suffered to lay off during the night without a promiscuous intercourse immediately taking place... - Chief Surgeon John White, transport Charlotte , between Tenerife and Rio de Janeiro, 23 June, 1787.

• The temperature was 82deg F. For reasons of health and comfort, the hatches were taken off the women's quarters. Hungrily, they sought the company of their marine guards and the sailors. White was outraged! White, of course, fathered a child by a convict, Rachel Turner, in Sydney in 1793.

Frequent explosions of gunpowder, lighting fires between decks, and a liberal use of that admirable antiseptic, oil of tar, were the preventives we made use of against impure air; and above all things we were careful to keep the men's bedding and wearing apparel dry. - Capt Lieut Watkin Tench, transport Charlotte , off Rio de Janeiro, August, 1787.

• The First Fleet was entirely government-run and such health precautions were strictly observed. Only 23 of the 750 convicts embarked died during the voyage.

Tricky Thomas plans for life (or otherwise) in Sydney

In trafficking with these people, we discovered, that one Thomas Barrett, a convict, had with great ingenuity and address, passed some quarter dollars which he, assisted by two others, had coined out of old buckles, buttons belonging to the marines, and pewter spoons ... - Chief surgeon John White, transport Charlotte , Rio de Janeiro, 5 August, 1787.

• Clever Thomas. He became distinguished in Sydney, too (see 26 February, 1788).

Wonder what the women of Rio thought of Ralph?

After breakfast, went on shore one side of the harbour where the town stands with Capt Meredith where we stayed until two o'clock where I did not see a single white woman except a few ugly mulattos with whom we talked as well as we could. - Diary of Lieut Ralph Clark, Rio de Janeiro, 11 August, 1987.

The beginning of the short, brave life of Charlotte

On the evening of the 8th, between the hours of three and four, Mary Broad, a convict, was delivered of fine girl. - Chief Surgeon John White, transport Charlotte , at sea, 8 September, 1787.

• The mother named the child Charlotte, after the ship. Mary, her husband, William Bryant, who she married in Sydney, their children and seven convicts, escaped from Sydney in 1791 aboard the governor's cutter. They were recaptured in Timor and Charlotte died on shipboard in the Atlantic, very close to where she was born, while Mary was being returned to England for trial. Eventually, Mary and the other survivors were pardoned, largely due to the intervention of the diarist, James Boswell.

Lady convicts an 'abandon'd set of wretches'

(After a long list of medicines and foodstuffs provided for the lady convicts) ... I wish I cd. with truth add that the behaviour of the Convicts merited such extreme indulgence - but I believe I may venture to say there was never a more abandon'd set of wretches collected in one place at any period than there are now to be met with in this Ship in particular and I am credibly informed that the comparison holds wt. respect to all the Convicts in the Fleet. The greater part of them are so totally abandoned and callous'd to all sense of shame and even common decency that it frequently becomes indispensably necessary to inflict Corporal punishment* upon them, and sorry I am to say that even this rigid mode of proceeding has not the desired Effect, since every day furnishes proofs of being more harden'd in their Wickedness - nor do I conceive it possible in their present situation to adopt any plan to induce them to behave like rational human Beings - perpetually thieving the clothes from each other, nay, almost from their backs may be rank'd amongst the least of their crimes (though it is the Crime for which most are in their present disgraceful situation) the Oaths and imprecations they make in their daily conversation and little disputes with each other by far exceeds anything of the kind to be met with amongst the most profligate wretches in London. Nor can their matchless Hypocrisy be equalled by their base ingratitude; many of them plundering the Sailors (who at every port they arrived at spent almost their whole of the wages due to them in purchasing different Articles of wearing apparel and other things for their accommodation) of their necessary clothes and cutting them up for some purpose of their own.

* Upon any very extraordinary occasion as thieving, fighting with each other or making use of abusive language at the Officers, they have thumb Screws put on - or iron fetters on their wrists and sometimes their hair has been cut off and their head shaved, which they seemed to dislike more than any other punishment they underwent. At first, one or two were flogged with cat of ninetails on the naked breech; but as their are certain seasons when such a mode of punishment cd. not be afflicted with that attention to decency which everyone in whose province it was to punish them wished to adhere to, it was totally laid aside. They were also whilst under punishment so very abusive that there was a necessity for gagging them.

... - Surgeon Arthur Bowes Smyth, female transport Lady Penrhyn , 10 December, 1787.

Their first glimpse of the native fires of Australia

From this time, a succession of fair winds and pleasant weather corresponded to our eager desires, and on the 7th of January, 1788, the long wished for shore of Van Diemen gratified our sight. We made the land at two o'clock in the afternoon, the very hour we expected to see it from the lunar observations of Captain Hunter, whose accuracy, as an astronomer, and conduct as an officer, had inspired us with equal gratitude and admiration. After so long a confinement, on a service so peculiarly disgusting and troublesome, it cannot be a matter of surprise, that we were overjoyed at the near prospect of a change of scene. By sunset, we had passed between the rocks, which Captain Furneaux named the Mewstone and Swilly. The former bears a very close resemblance to the little island near Plymouth, whence it took its name; its latitude is 43 deg 48 minutes south, longitude 146deg 25 minutes east of Greenwich. In running along shore, we cast many an anxious eye towards the land, on which so much of our future destiny depended. Our distance, joined to the haziness of the atmosphere, prevented us, however, from being able to discover much. With our best glasses, we could see nothing but hills of a moderate height, clothed with trees, to which some little patches of white sandstone gave the appearance of being covered with snow. Many fires were observed in the hills in the evening. - Captain Lieut Watkin Tench, convict transport Charlotte , off southern Tasmania, 7 January, 1788.

• Tobias Furneaux was the captain of the Adventure , consort ship to James Cook's Resolution in his second voyage to the Pacific in 1772-75. He charted Mewstone Rock, 20km south of Tasmania while he was separated from Cook. When the First Fleet sailed by in 1788, people still believed that Tasmania was part of the Australian mainland. George Bass and Matthew Flinders proved the existence of Bass Strait in 1798.

Botany Bay after 'train of unexampled blessings'!

Thus, after a passage of exactly thirty-six weeks from Portsmouth, we happily effected our arduous undertaking, with such a train of unexampled blessings as hardly ever attended a fleet in a like predicament. Of two hundred and twelve Marines, we lost only one; and of seven hundred and seventy-five convicts put on board in England, but twenty-four perished in our route. To what cause are we to attribute this unhoped for success? I wish I could answer to the liberal manner in which the Government supplied the expedition. But when the reader is told that some of the necessary articles allowed to ships on a common passage to the West Indies were withheld from us; that portable soup, wheat, and pickled vegetables were not allowed; and that an inadequate supply of essence of malt was the only antiscorbic supplied, his surprise will redouble at the result of the voyage. For it must be remembered that the people sent out were not a ship's company starting with every advantage of health and good living which a state of freedom produces; but the major part a miserable set of convicts, emaciated from confinement and in want of clothes and almost every inconvenience to render so long a passage tolerable. I beg leave, however, to say that the provisions served on board were good, and of a much superior quality to those usually supplied by contract: they were furnished by Mr Richards, junior, of Woolworth, Surrey. - Captain Lieut Watkin Tench, convict transport, Charlotte , Botany Bay, 20 April, 1788.

Aborigines meet new owners of Botany Fish Shop

No sooner were the fish out of the water, than they began to lay hold of them, as if they had a right to them, or that they were their own ... - Chief surgeon John White, Botany Bay, 23 January, 1788.

• Seamen from the First Fleet had just hauled in their seine net .

Botany no good, so snobs move to Harbour

In running along along the shore, we observed a number of steep, rocky cliffs and having run about three leagues (15km) we were abreast of some high sand cliffs at the northern extremity of which the land of the entrance of Port Jackson commences, and the entrance is soon discovered lying between two steep bluff heads. There is no danger in entering the harbour but what is visible, and when within the heads, a rock lies in the mid channel, the shoal of which extends a cable's length around. This rock is just covered at high water. When in the inside of the harbour, the larboard arm leads to the place where the settlement is formed, which lies about six miles from the entrance to the harbour. - Lieut Philip Gidley King's diary, HMS Supply , Sydney Harbour, 26 January, 1788.

Having passed between the capes which form its entrance, we found ourselves in a port superior, in extent and excellency, to all we had seen before. - Capt Lieut Watkin Tench, Sydney Harbour, 26 January, 1788.

• The First Fleet entered Port Jackson, whose beauty exceeded all expectations.

The different coves were examined with all possible expedition. I fixed on the one that had the best springs of water, and in which the ships can anchor so close to the shore that at a very small expense quays may be made at which the largest ships may unload. - Governor Arthur Phillip, Sydney Cove, 26 January, 1788 (Report to Lord Sydney, 15 May, 1788).

• Thus was born one of the great cities of the world. And as the ships came into the cove, a Marine sergeant's wife, Elizabeth Whittle, gave birth to a son, Thomas, the first British child born in Australia.

He also assured them they would not be hard work'd and wd. be convey'd home to England if they chose it, upon expiration of their sentence. - Surgeon Arthur Bowes Smyth, female transport Lady Penrhyn , Sydney, 30 January, 1788.

• This was the fateful moment when Lieut Philip Gidley King came aboard the ship to select six female convicts to join the party colonising Norfolk Island. One of them, Ann Inett, became the mother of his sons, Norfolk and Sydney. In later years, as Mrs Ann Robinson, she was a prominent Sydney publican.

First Fleet ladies land: Amazing sex scenes

At five o'clock this morning, all things were got in order for landing all of the women and three of the ships' longboats came alongside to receive them; a strict search was made to try if any of the many things they had stolen while on board could be found, but their artifice eluded the most strict search, and at six o'clock p.m. we had the long wished for pleasure of seeing the last of them leave the ship. They were dressed in general very clean, and some few amongst them might be said to be well dressed. The Men Convicts got to them very soon after they landed and it is beyond my abilities to give a just description of the Scene of Debauchery and Riot that ensued during the night. - Surgeon Arthur Bowes Smyth, female transport, Lady Penrhyn , Sydney Cove, 6 February, 1788.

• The lady convicts were landed in Sydney Cove amid polite applause. Thomas Whittle would have playmates in the spring.

Phillip bans 'illegal intercourse' (!)

Among many circumstances that would tend to their future happiness and comfort, he recommended marriage; assuring them that an indiscriminate and illegal intercourse would be punished with the greatest severity and rigour. - Chief surgeon John White, Sydney, 7 February, 1788.

• Phillip gave the convicts a fatherly lecture, piously reported by White, after the licentious events of the previous day. In 1793, a Lady Juliana convict, Rachel Turner, bore White a son, Andrew Douglas, who became the only Australian-born man to serve at Waterloo. Andrew was taken from Rachel as an infant to grow up in White's household in England. She, meanwhile, had married a free settler, Thomas Moore, a stalwart of the Church of England, who became one of the wealthiest men in NSW. In 1823, Andrew moved back to NSW to be reunited with his mother.

Grand plan for Empire expansion?

After having taken the necessary measures for securing yourself and people, and for the preservation of the stores and provisions, you are immediately to proceed to the cultivation of the Flax plant, which you will find growing spontaneously on the island. - Instructions to Lieut Philip Gidley King on embarkation for Norfolk Island, 15 February, 1788.

• Norfolk Island's potential as a source of flax and timber for the Royal Navy was not lost on British authorities, and suggests the choice of Botany Bay for colonisation was part of a grand plan for Empire expansion into the Pacific. James Cook had reported favourably on the growth of flax and Norfolk Island pines when he discovered the island in 1774.

Tricky Thomas makes history

When they arrived near the tree Major Ross recd. a respite of 24 hours for Lovall and Hall, but Barrett who was a most vile Character was turned off about half an hour after six o'clock p.m.... - Surgeon Arthur Bowes Smyth, Sydney, 26 February, 1788.

• European civilization came to Sydney when Thomas Barrett was the first man hanged for stealing food. Hanging was a practice hitherto unknown to the aborigines.

John Freeman was tried for stealing from another convict seven pounds of flour. He was convicted, and sentenced to be hanged; but, while under the ladder, with the rope about his neck, he was offered his free pardon on condition of performing the duty of common executioner as long as he remained in this country; which, after some little pause, he reluctantly accepted. - Journal of chief surgeon John White, Sydney, 26 February, 1788.

Aboriginal woman displays arts of persuasion

Governor Arthur Phillip led a water exploration of Broken Bay, north of Sydney, and encountered a great many friendly aborigines ... One of the females happened to fall in love with his greatcoat; and to obtain it, she used a variety of means. First. she danced and played a number of antic tricks; but finding this mode ineffectual, she had recourse to tears, which she shed plentifully. This expedient not answering, she ceased from weeping, and appeared as cheerful as any of the party around her. From this little incident, it may be seen that they are not a people devoid of art. - Journal of Chief Surgeon John White, Sydney, 9 March, 1788.

But who had been the earlier shark fishermen?

A shark was caught this day thirteen feet long and six feet round. After the jaws were taken out, they passed over the largest man on the ship without touching; the liver gave us 26 gallons of oil; he had four hooks cut from within him besides that which caught him. - Journal of Lieut William Bradley, Sirius , Sydney, 23 March, 1788.

Misty-eyed footnote to a convict girl's love story

This Evening, abt.7 o'clock, died John Fisher, seaman on board our Ship of a Dysentery - Several of the men on board had the same disorder and recovered, and I attribute the death of this young man (abt. 20 years old) to his own imprudence in swimming on shore naked in the middle of the night to one of the convict women with whom he had formed a connection and who had a child by him while on board - he wd. lye abt. with her in the woods all night in the Dews and return on board again a little before daylight, whereby he caught a most violent cold and made his disorder infinitely more putrid than it wd. otherwise have been (if he did not wholly occasion it by such improper conduct). - Surgeon Arthur Bowes Smyth, female convict transport, Lady Penryhn , Sydney, 25 March, 1788.

• Another way of expressing it was that young John Fisher was smitten by a young convict woman, who had been landed with their child, on 6 February. He died of dysentery, which was rife in the settlement, through no fault of either of them. The woman may have been Ann Morton, aged 20, a servant girl transported for shoplifting, who gave birth to a boy on 15 November, 1787, during a mild gale in the Southern Ocean. The Lady Penryhn had lain in Portsmouth, whingeing and bitching (as the surly Smyth would have put it) with female convicts, since late February, 1787.

Execution of a hungry boy thief

James Bennet, a youth, was executed for robbing a tent belonging to the Charlotte transport of sugar and some other articles. - Chief surgeon John White, Sydney, 1 May, 1788.

• David Collins, the judge-advocate, said the items were worth 5s. He added that Bennet, from Shropshire, was aged seventeen, but it is likely that he was only fourteen.

Marine officers decline extra 'convict' duties

I have in my first letter had the honour of observing to Your Lordship the great want of proper persons to superintend the convicts. The officers who compose the detachment are not only few in number, but most of them have declined any interference with the convicts, except when they are employed for their own particular service. I requested soon after we landed that the officers would encourage such (people) they saw diligent, and point out for punishment such as they saw idle or straggling in the woods. This was all I desired, but the officers did not understand any interference with the convicts was expected, and that they were not sent out to do more than the duty of soldiers. The consequence must be obvious to Your Lordship. Here are only convicts to attend to the convicts, and who in general fear to exert any authority, and very little labour is drawn from them in a country which requires the greatest exertions. In this declaration, I do not mean to include the Lieutenant-Governor. who has shown every attention that could be expected from him, and the Judge-Advocate, acting as a Justice of the Peace with a diligence which does him the greatest of credit, they are under as good order as our present situation permit.

The sitting as members of Criminal Courts is thought a hardship by the officers, and of which they say they were not informed before they left England. It is necessary to mention this circumstance to your Lordship, that officers coming out may know that a young colony requires something more from the officers than garrison duty.

The not having the power of immediately granting lands the officers likewise feel as a hardship. They say they shall be obliged to to make up their minds as to staying in the country or returning before they know what the bounty of Government intends them.

As it is, My Lord, impossible for the Commissary to attend to the issuing of provisions without some person of confidence to assist and to be charged with the details, I have appointed the person who was charged with the victualing of the convicts from England. There is, likewise, a person who acts as Provost-Marshall (the one appointed in England not having come out) and who likewise superintends the different works going on. Two people, who are farmers, and the clerk of the Sirius are employed cultivating ground and in the store, as likewise a smith that superintends the convict smith. As the granting of these people any land would at present draw their attention from the public service, I have promised that their situation should be represented to Your Lordship. - Letter from Governor Arthur Phillip, Sydney, to Secretary of Colonies, Lord Sydney, London, 16 May, 1788.

Island maidens rejected, regretfully

The very small proportion of females makes the sending out an additional number absolutely necessary, for I am certain your Lordship will think that to send for women from the Islands, in our present situation, would answer no other purpose than that of bringing them to pine away in misery . - Governor Arthur Phillip, Sydney, to Lord Sydney, Secretary for Colonies, London, 15 May, 1788.

• The imbalance of the sexes in the new colony was a worry. In 1786, an acquaintance of Sir Joseph Banks had anticipated this, writing a letter suggesting: The recruiting of the gorgeous women of the Pacific Islands might solve the problem and from such a union of physically perfect women with convicts, a nation of people would arise at Botany Bay which would be an ornament to human nature.

George isn't really going troppo, is he?

This day been publicly announced that some of the transports will sail for England in six weeks, so a scribbling we will go ... Mr Dick, have you had the opportunity yet of sending me a packet of news? Who is the King? The Queen? The ministers? What's the whim? Our whim will soon be to go naked, for you know, 'When we are at Rome etc.' - Surgeon George Worgan, Sirius , Sydney, 19 May, 1788.

• Worgan was a stylish, curious 31-year-old, son of a London music teacher, who brought his own piano to Sydney Cove and, on departing for England in 1791, gave it to Elizabeth Macarthur.

Mystery deaths of the convict rush-cutters

Captain Campbell of the Marines, who had been up the harbour to procure some rushes for thatch, brought to the hospital the bodies of William Okey and Samuel Davis, two rush-cutters, whom he found murdered by the natives in a shocking manner. Okey was transfixed through the breast with one of their spears, which with great difficulty and force was pulled out. He had two other spears sticking in him to a depth which must have proved mortal. His skull was divided and communited so much that his brains easily found a passage through. His eyes were out, but these might have been picked away by birds. Davis was a youth, and only had some trifling marks of violence about him. This lad could not have been many hours dead; for when Captain Campbell found him, which was among some mangrove trees, and at a considerable distance from where the other man lay, he was not stiff, nor very cold; nor was he perfectly so when brought to the hospital. From these circumstances, we have been led to be think that while they were dispatching Okey, he had crept to the trees among which he was found; and that fear, united with cold and wet, in a great degree with cold and wet, contributed to his death. What the motive or cause of this melancholy catastrophe we have not been able to discover; but from the civility shown on all occasions to the officers by the natives, whenever any of them were met, I am strongly inclined to think that they must have been provoked and injured by the convicts. - Journal of Chief Surgeon John White, Sydney, 30 May, 1788.

Glimpse of a sadly soon-vanished lifestyle

We saw several of the natives on the high land. They were gathering a kind of fruit which they soaked in water and sucked. On our return to the Cove where we landed, we found a native in a tree gathering a fruit of the size of a small pine and of a beautiful pale yellow. He got it by fixing a four-pronged spear over the stalk and twisting them off. It had a sweet taste. We found two children, a boy and a girl, near the tree in which the man was. The children did not appear frightened when we took hold of them. The girl's fingers were complete, as were the boy's teeth. When this man had got a quantity of this spongy fruit, he, with the children, walked along the beach and sat down beside a pool of fresh water, to which place we followed them. They eat, or rather sucked, the whole of what they had gathered, frequently dipping them in the water. They then returned to the place where we first met with them. They eagerly accepted of a gull which we gave them. On our return to the Sirius, we found that some of the natives had been alongside and examined the outside of the ship with great attention, particularly of the figure. They appeared to be the same that had visited the ship some days before, as they had been shaved. They landed at the Observatory Point, stopped a short time, and went up the Harbour. - Journal of Lieutenant William Bradley, Sydney, 30 May, 1788.

Discipline's a teensy bit strict at Sydney Cove!

Banish from your memory all my former indiscretions, and let the cheering hope of a happy meeting hereafter console you for my loss. - Letter from convict Samuel Peyton, about to be hanged in Sydney, to his mother, London, 24 June, 1788.

• Peyton, who broke into an officer's tent, paid the ultimate penalty for becoming intoxicated (by the grace of the Governor, who supplied the grog) on the King's Birthday. He was hanged with a fellow convict, Edward Corbett, who ran away from the settlement, but surrendered, starving. The authorities assiduously restored his health until he was ready for the righteous application of the noose.

Winter rains bring ill temper to the huddled colony

The want of temper & the way of harmony in the detachment would not have been mentioned to your Lordship, but that I thought our situation required that a clear idea was given of it. At the same time, I beg leave to assure your Lordship that with regular supplies of provisions, for which we must depend on the Mother Country for a time, I see no difficulties but what a little time and perseverance will do away. A small number of families to be sent out would do more in cultivating the land than all the convicts under our present circumstances, for they destroy and rob in spite of every possible precaution, and punishments have effect. They will be better when they are separated, but I have only two people in the Colony capable of taking charge of a farm.

Lieut Collins returns on account of his very bad state of health, and I take the liberty of mentioning him to your Lordship as an officer I should not have parted with under any other consideration.

The very natives find it very difficult to support themselves in this season, as few fish are caught. I hope after the ships have sailed to be able to persuade some of them to live near us and every possible means shall be used to reconcile them to us, and to render their situation more comfortable. At present I think it is inferior to that of the beasts of the field, yet they seem intelligent and merit a better character than what will be given them by Monsieur La Perouse, from what he said to some of our officers. - Letter from Governor Arthur Phillip, Sydney, to Secretary for Colonies, Lord Sydney, London 5 July, 1788.

• David Collins, Lieut Governor, did not return to England, but chose to stay with Phillip, who particularly valued his role as Judge Advocate.

The man who saved the original place names?

A List of such words as used by the natives of New Holland in the district of Port Jackson, New South Wales, as could be gathered from them, and expressed nearly as possible according to their mode of pronunciation, to which are added the words in English that most closely correspond to them ... The Lookout (South Head) Woo-la-ra. - Letter to London from Midshipman Daniel Southwell, Sydney, 12 July, 1788.

• Southwell was stationed on the warship, Sirius , and may have been given the responsibility of recording aboriginal names as part of an enlightened policy to retain them for future naming purpose. The reference to 'Woo-la-ra' is the first mention of the name which eventually became Woollahra, gazetted as a municipality in 1860.

' ... with a look of inexpressible archness.'

Governor Arthur Phillip, with a party of officers and Marines, made a second expedition to Broken Bay in August, 1788. John White recorded a delightful encounter with the aboriginal women ... Many of the women were straight, well-formed, and lively. My companion continued to exhibit a number of coquettish airs while I was decorating her head, neck, and arms, with my pocket and neck handkerchiefs, which I tore into ribbons as if desirous of multiplying two presents into several. Having nothing left, except the buttons of my coat, on her admiring them, I cut them away, and with a piece of string tied them around her waist. Thus ornamented, and thus delighted with her new acquirements, she turned from me with a look of inexpressible archness. - Journal of Chief Surgeon John White, Broken Bay (north of Port Jackson), 23 August, 1788.

Strict discipline at Sydney Cove (2)

A criminal court sentenced a convict to five hundred lashes for stealing soap, the property of another convict, value eight-pence. - Journal of chief surgeon John White, Sydney 7 October, 1788.

Lattices of twigs in Old Sydney Town

However, we now have two streets, if four rows of the most miserable huts you can possibly conceive of deserve that name. Windows they have none ... so that lattices of twigs are made by our people to supply their places. - Letter to England describing The Rocks area, from a female convict, Sydney, November, 1788.

1789: Mutiny on HMS Bounty, 18 April, off Tahiti

Love Boat arrives (in the knickers of time)

When we were fairly out to sea, every man on board took a wife from among the convicts, they nothing loath. - John Nicole, steward on the female transport, Lady Juliana , 1789.

• The voyage of the Lady Juliana , by most salacious accounts, was the liveliest in Australian-British relations. She left London on 29 July, 1789, with 226 convicts, many London prostitutes who continued to practice their profession on board with gusto. The big ship (400 tonnes) was the first to reach Sydney after the First Fleet and carried vital supplies for the starving colony in Port Jackson. According to eyewitness accounts, when she arrived in Rio De Janeiro (where she stayed 45 days), tents were set up on the deck to provide convenient workstations for the ladies to entertain local gentlemen.

'Sydney Theatre Company' founded

The anniversary of His Majesty's birthday was celebrated, as heretofore, at the government house, with loyal festivity. In the evening, the play of the Recruiting Officer was performed by a party of convicts, and honoured by the presence of His Excellency and officers of the garrison. The opportunity to escape from the dreariness and dejection of our situation should be eagerly embraced, will not be wondered at. The exhilarating effect of a splendid theatre is well-known: and I am not ashamed to confess, that the proper distribution of three or four yards of stained paper and a dozen farthing candles stuck around the mud walls of a convict hut, failed not to diffuse general complacency on the sixty persons, of various description, who were assembled to applaud the representation. - Capt Lieut Watkin Tench, Sydney, 4 June, 1789.

• Tench and his fellow officers were unaware the the Lady Juliana was on its way bearing all sorts of gifts to lift the general malaise.

Inland exploration

... we found ourselves on the banks of a river, nearly as broad as the Thames at Putney ... - Capt Lieut Watkin Tench, exploring west of Sydney, June, 1789.

• Tench had discovered the Nepean River, headwaters of the Hawkesbury, whose dimensions he gave a homely, west London, perspective easily understood by his readers in Britain.

Rum Corps raised in UK

... no recruit to enlisted under five feet four inches and a half in height, nor under sixteen or above thirty years of age. - Commandant Francis Grose's orders from King George 111, London, 8 June, 1789.

• Grose was empowered to raise the New South Wales Corps, later known as the Rum Corps. The height requirement gave them an equal footing with the convicts, judging by the advertised dimensions of escaped men in NSW .

1789: On 14 July, a Paris mob storms the Bastille prison, hated symbol of royal absolutism, signalling the start of the French Revolution.

Not pregnant, they said, so she hangs

Gentlemen! She is as much with child as I am! - Elderly female leader of a panel of convict women assembled to decide if Ann Davis, under a death sentence, was pregnant, Sydney, 21 November, 1789.

• Ann Davis, a convict charged with stealing clothes from another convict, Robert Sidaway, had brought a splendid wardrobe with her from London, a fact which was not lost on her convict sisters, who could barely wait to divide the spoils .

She died generally reviled and unpitied by the people of her own description. - Lieut David Collins, Judge-Advocate, Sydney, 23 November, 1789.

• Ann Davis, despite her pleas that she was pregnant, was the first woman hanged.

Transportation gets the nod

You will find nothing as good as transportation ... death, transportation and the Bridewell are, in my judgment, the only varieties of punishment the the manners of our country will permit of. - Letter from Lord Dundas, Secretary for the Colonies, London, 17 December, 1789.

• Lord Dundas, as retiring Secretary for the Colonies, gave some gratuitous advice (the Bridewell was a particularly severe reformatory in London) to his successor, Sir Richard Grenville. Subsequently, he was responsible for the cruel repression of the poor people of Britain. How much notice the hard-pressed governors of NSW took of such public servants in London is a matter of conjecture. Dundas went on to become Secretary for War against Napoleon, a task at which he failed spectacularly.

'... the other charms of the ladies, I shall be silent'

There is no part of the behaviour of these people, that has puzzled us more, than that which relates to their women. Comparatively speaking, we have seen but few of them, and those have been sometimes kept back with every symptom of jealous sensibility; and sometimes offered with every appearance of courteous familiarity. Cautious, however, of alarming the feelings of the men on so tender a point, we have constantly made a rule of treating the females with that distance and reserve, which we judged most likely to remove any impression they might have received of our intending aught, which could give offence on so delicate a subject. And so successful have our Endeavours been, that a quarrel on this head has in no instance that I know of, happened. The tone of the voice of the women, which is pleasingly soft and feminine, forms a striking contrast to the rough guttural pronunciation of the men. Of the other charms of the ladies, I shall be silent, though justice obliges me to mention, that, in the opinion of some amongst us, they show a timidity and bashfulness, which are, perhaps, inseparable from the female character in its rudest state. It is not a little singular, that the custom of cutting off the two lower joints of the little finger of the left hand, observed in the Society Islands, is found here among the women, who have for the most part undergone this amputation. Hitherto, we have no been able to trace out the cause of this usage. At first we supposed it to be peculiar to the married women, or those who had borne children; but this conclusion must have been erroneous, as we have no right to believe that celibacy prevails in any instance, and some of the oldest women are without this distinction; and girls of a very tender age are marked by it. - Capt Lieut Watkin Tench, Narrative of the Expedition to Botany Bay , London, 1789.

Not such a bad place ...

Here at the Look-out, where I am stationed, we have a garden, but in its infancy. However, the ground is tolerably good, and we are now and then supplied with a few greens from a garden that was intended for the ship's use. A boat is also allowed us, and we have had good opportunities to try our luck at fishing. There are likewise muskets and ammunition for the defence of the place, and the situation, though so retired, has its advantages. - Letter to London from Midshipman Daniel Southwell, Sydney, 14 April, 1790.

Send free settlers from Britain, please

As I thought the first settlers sent out might require more encouragement than those who might come out hereafter, I proposed in my last dispatches giving them a certain number of convicts for two years, and supporting them at that time at the expense of the Crown. - Dispatch from Governor Arthur Phillip, Sydney, to Lord Grenville, Secretary for the Colonies, London, 17 June, 1790.

• Phillip made several early appeals to London for free settlers who, he believed, could improve the colony's food production.

Amongst the females there is one who has lost the use of her limbs upwards of three years (before the First Fleet departed), and amongst the males two are Perfect Idiots. - Surgeon's report sent to the British Government by Governor Arthur Phillip, Sydney, 17 July, 1790.

Sydney faces real risk of starvation

I seize this opportunity of letting you know, by a vessel that will sail very soon, our wretched situation, which has been occasioned by the miscarriage of our supplies, and that perhaps you have not yet heard of. - Convict letter, published in England, 29 December, 1790.

• The storeship, Guardian , a converted navy frigate, was sent from Spithead in September, 1789, with 1000 tonnes of cargo to replenish the rapidly-diminishing supplies at Sydney. On 22 November, 1789, having collected more supplies at Capetown, she collided with an iceberg. She finally sank on the African coast on 12 April. In Sydney, convicts and officers wondered if they had been abandoned.

Here, on the summit of the hill, every morning from day light until the sun sunk, did we sweep the horizon, in hope of seeing a sail. At every fleeting speck, which arose from the bosom of the sea, the heart pounded, and the telescope was lifted to the eye. If a ship appeared here, we know she must be bound for us; for on the shores of this vast ocean (the largest in the world) we were the only community which possessed the art of navigation, and languished for intercourse with civilised society. - Captain Lieut Watkin Tench, Sydney, 1790.

My next door neighbour, a brother officer, was with me; but we could not speak; we wrung each other by the hand, with eyes and hearts overflowing . - Capt Lieut Watkin Tench, Sydney, 3 June, 1790.

• The Lady Juliana's arrival in Sydney on 3 June, 1790, narrowly averted starvation.

1790: James Watt's invention of a pressure gauge completes his steam engine and hastens Britain's Industrial Revolution.

Sickening Second Fleet

The sick keep separate, the place allotted them fumigated, see they are supplied with wine and other necessaries when required by the surgeon . - Navy instructions to its Second Fleet agent, Lieut John Shapcote, London, December, 1789.

• Shapcote died, mysteriously, in his bunk at sea and was consigned to the deep with almost indecent haste because the corpse was 'so very offensive'. It seems most likely that his offence was likely to be a severe report on the avariciousness of the Fleet's captains. The Fleet arrived in Sydney in June, 1790.

I beheld a sight truly shocking to the feelings of humanity, a great number of them laying, some half and others nearly quite naked, without either bed or bedding, unable to turn or help themselves. - Letter to England by Chaplain Richard Johnson, Sydney, 26 July, 1790.

• Of the 1017 convicts who left on the Second Fleet, 267 died. It was privatisation at its worst and brought to the authorities' attention the need for stricter control over contractors. The most brutal of the captains, Donald Trail, captain of the Neptune , escaped prosecution for murder.

The slave trade is merciful compared with what I have seen in this fleet; in that it is in the interests of the masters to preserve the health and lives of their captives, they having a joint benefit with the owners; in this, the more that they can withhold from the unhappy wretches the more provisions they have to dispose of at a foreign market, and the earlier in the voyage they die, the longer they can draw the deceased's allowance to themselves; for I fear few of them are honest enough to make a just return of the dates of their deaths to their employers ... my feelings have have never been so wounded as in this voyage, so much so, that I shall never recover my accustomed vivacity and spirits; and had I been empowered, it would have been the most grateful task of my life to have prevented so many of my fellow creatures so much misery and death. - Letter to England from Capt William Hill, NSW Corps, Sydney, 26 July, 1790.

• William Hill, commander of a detachment of the NSW Corps being shipped to Sydney with the Second Fleet, wrote the above damning indictment of the treatment of convicts by private contractors in a private letter.

Hill continued: The irons used upon these unhappy wretches were barbarous. The contractors had been in the Guinea (slave) trade and had put on board the same shackles used in that trade which are made with a small bolt instead of chains that drop between the legs and fasten with a bandage around the waist. These bolts were more than three-quarter of a foot in length so that they could not extend either leg from the other more than an inch or two; thus fettered, it was impossible to move but at the risk of both legs being broken.

In his An Account of the Colony in New South Wales (London, 1798), David Collins wrote: A contract had been entered into by the Government with Messrs. Calvert, Campbell and King, merchants of London, for the transporting of 1000 convicts and Government to pay 17 pounds 7 shillings and sixpence per head for every convict embarked. This sum being as well for their provisions as for their transport, no interest for their preservation was created in the owners and the dead were more profitable than the living.

An Elysium, or the worst place in the world?

Suffer your imagination to enter the regions of Fiction, and let Fancy in her liveliest moment paint an Elysium. - Letter from Capt William Hill, 26 July, 1790.

• Hill, who had landed with the New South Wales Corps a month earlier, saw the colony's promise beyond the brutal settlement clinging to the shore of Port Jackson. In December, 1791, he fought a harmless duel with Lieut Governor Robert Ross, the obnoxious troublemaker, who had expressed a contrary view of Sydney: I do not scruple to pronounce that in the whole world there is not a worse country than what we have seen of this.

Privatise enterprise cost-cutting brings cruelty

Sometime for days, nay, for a considerable time together, they have been in the middle of water chained together, hand and leg, even the sick not exempted - nay, many died with the chains upon them. Promises, entreaties were all in vain, and it was not for a very few days before tray made the harbour that they were released out of irons. The greatest complaints by far were from those persons who had come in the Neptune. - Letter to England from Chaplain Richard Johnson, Sydney, 26 July, 1790.

• Reports of the atrocities caused official and private outrage in Britain, but Donald Trail, the most corrupt captain, absconded to escape prosecution. Later, all charges against him were dropped. The major firm of contractors was allowed to fulfill its contract with the Third Fleet, but was excluded from further work.

Even the fish found Norfolk Island distasteful

I am afraid the fish are leaving. - Lieut Ralph Clark's journal, Norfolk Island, 31 July, 1790.

• Norfolk Island's settlers, short of supplies, had sent a boat through the surf to fish, but the catch was meagre. The colonists supplemented their diet with the migratory Mount Pitts petrel; they killed up to 5000 a night during the season. The bird soon became extinct on Norfolk, but occurred elsewhere.

The first 'woman of class'

Many weeks passed away cheerfully, if not gaily - gaily it could not be said. - Letter from Elizabeth Macarthur, Sydney, to her mother, England, 7 March, 1791.

• Elizabeth Macarthur, then in her mid-twenties, arrived with her husband, John, on the Second Fleet and took the rigours of the colony with extraordinary cheerfulness. Apart from the retiring wife of the Rev. Richard Johnson, she was the only free woman resembling 'class' in NSW and the young officers lavished their innocent attentions on her.

1791: British naval mutinies at Spithead and on the Nore.

Convicts' escape bid when no ships could chase

The snow (small brig Waaksamheyd) had but just sailed, when a very daring manoeuvre was carried in execution, with complete success, by a set of convicts, eleven in number, including a woman, wife of one of the convicts, and two little children. - Capt Lieut Watkin Tench, Sydney, 28 March, 1791.

• Mary Broad ( see 8 September, 1787 ), William Bryant, their children and seven other convicts, made their audacious getaway in the Governor's cutter, waiting until there were no ships left in Sydney capable of pursuing them.

Is poor Ralph missing his Betsy, 20,000km away?

She could only receive six, as she fainted away, it is a thousand pities that she is an abandoned woman, for she is in figure a fine woman, and has a handsome face. - Lieut Ralph Clarke's journal, Norfolk Island, 6 June, 1791.

• More's the pity Elizabeth Peppin didn't have the manners to endure the full 25 lashes for coming into town without permission. Quartermaster Clarke would have been able to lust after her fine body, stripped to the waist, in greater detail. Of course, there was nothing hypocritical about Clarke: while he was observing the flogging, another 'abandoned woman', Mary Branham, was about to give birth to his child. Mary was aged fourteen when she was sentenced for a trifling theft in 1784, seventeen when she came on the Lady Penrhyn with the First Fleet, and twenty-one when she had Clarke's child, Alicia (named after his absent wife, if you don't mind!).

Convict transport conditions improved

In the prison, the space of a cube of six feet is all that allowed to eight men, and should the 391 men be placed in the prison, every berth or space of 18 inches would be occupied; if a sickness should happen, a sick and a person in health must not touch each other. - Navy Commissioners' report, London, 29 June, 1791

• The Navy Commissioners examined the transport, Pitt, before sailing, after an anonymous complaint about her overcrowding. They ordered her complement be reduced by about 60 convicts, but smallpox struck during the voyage and 20 male and nine female prisoners perished. In Sydney, it was noted, the ship's officers had plenty of merchandise for sale, thus accounting for the overcrowding.

A lusty missionary states his position

But the misfortune is, I expect another is upon the stocks - but I cannot help it. - Letter to England by the Rev Richard Johnson, colonial chaplain, Sydney, 1791.

• Mary Johnson was pregnant again.

Bounty prisoners' ship sinks near Cape York!

It was an exceedingly dark, stormy night; and the gloomy horrors of death presented us all round, being everywhere encompassed with rocks, shoals and broken water. -Surgeon George Hamilton, HMS Pandora , east of Cape York, 28 August, 1791.

Pandora , a 24-gun very latest frigate commanded by Edward Edwards, foundered in the Endeavour Straits, east of Cape York, as it was attempting to pick its way through the Great Barrier Reef into Torres Strait. The ship had been sent from England to capture the Bounty mutineers and had 14 contained in a wooden cage on the deck. They had been taken on Tahiti, but the rest of the mutineers, under Fletcher Christian, had already fled to Pitcairn Island. They remained there undetected until an American whaler found them in 1808. The Pandora struck a coral reef, was refloated by its crew and sank again in 40 metres. Four mutineers and 31 crew drowned, but the rest eventually regained England. Three were hanged. The Pandora was discovered in good preservation in 1977 and, under the management of the Queensland Museum, valuable artefacts have been recovered.

Teenage Midshipman Flinders takes his journal to sea

In 1791, Matthew Flinders, aged 17, went to sea on HMS Providence (William Bligh). Their first foreign port of call was Tenerife, where the First Fleet stopped four years earlier. Flinders recorded his impressions (slightly edited for clarity) in his journal ...

Tenerife Santa Cruz not a large Town, Streets wide, ill-pav'd and irregular, the Houses of the principal Inhabitants large and have very little Furniture, but are airy and pleasant suitable to the Climate; most of them have Balconies, where the Owners sit and enjoy the Air. Those of the lower Class, ill-built dirty and almost without Furniture. On the East side of the Town, next the Road, is a small public Garden of a rectangular Figure, containing two Rows of Poplar Trees and at this Time ornamented with Patches of Marvel of Peru. In the Square where the Market is held, near the Pier, is a tolerably elegant marble Obelisk in Honour of our Lady of Candelaria, the Goddess of the Place, and to whom the Spaniards on their Arrival erected this Statue calling it our Lady, keeping up some resemblance of the ancient Worship that they might the better keep the Teneriffians in Subjection at the Top of the Obelisk is placed the Statue, and at its Base are four well-executed Figures representing the Ancient Kings or Princes of Tenerife, each of which has the Shin bone of a Man's Leg in his Hand. This Image is held in great Estimation by the Lower Class of People, who tell many absurd Stories of its first Appearance in the Island, the many Miracles she has wrought etc. On the four sides of the Pedestal are the following Inscriptions in Spanish: On the East side At the Expense and cordial Devotion of Don Bartholomew Antonio Montainez, perpetual Governor of the Royal Order of St Dominic, Castle of Candelaria, the Strand of Candelaria, in the Year of our Lord 1768, the tenth of the Pontificate of our Holy Father.

• This was Bligh's second attempt (after the failure of the Bounty ) to transplant breadfruit from Tahiti to feed the slaves in the West Indies. He succeeded, but failed to win the admiration of Flinders who believed his charting skills had been slighted. As the Providence sailed south from Tenerife, young Flinders reflected in his journal on the characteristics of the people ...

The natural Inhabitants of the Island are scarcely to be distinguished from the lower Class of Spaniards. They are of larger Size and more bony, the Complexion of both is very swarthy. The better sort of People who are not exposed to the Sun are tolerably fair; even the inferior Women, notwithstanding their Colour, might several of them be accounted handsome; their Feet are regular and they have good Teeth, their immodest Importunities are troublesome but in that the Teneriffians are not singular ...

(On 15 October, 1791) we caught three Dolphins, these are certainly a fine fish, both with Respect to flavour and form and are deserve which is deservedly called beauteous, their Colours change according to the angle you view them in, to blue, yellow, green, and brown, a Number of Dolphins together display all these different Colours at the same Time and are a beautiful Sight, the fish is about 3 feet long, head flat and rounded Tail a little forked, a larger Fish running fore and aft from his Head to the Tail, is rather a slender Fish and spotted with small, round, irregularly placed Spots. The same afternoon we caught a middle-sized Shark, I suppose about 7 feet long for there was not time to measure it this is the best Fish in the World for Sailors, the Captains not choosing to take any of him, A Shark is always considered lawful Plunder, from which circumstance this poor fellow had not been on board three Minutes before he was in a Dozen Pieces and perhaps before half an hour they were feasting upon him, he had a most forbidding stupid Appearance. I had no Idea the Mouth of this Fish was situated so far under him, it must be inconvenient to him to seize upon anything. She had five young ones taken out of her alive. Before we made the Cape, saw several Spermaceti Whales, close to the Ship, great ugly Monsters that went rolling along and blowing every now and then, they seemed to move without any Sense as one might suppose a House would or rather a Ship by way of a better Similitude. I suppose their Tops of the Sails which are horizontal could not be less than 12 or 15 feet broad ...

(HMS Providence reached Capetown) ... The Town has a pretty appearance from the Bay, a great deal of Wood being dispersed all over it. Indeed it is a handsome, regular-built place; the Houses are in general low and built after one Plan, upon a medium betwixt the small warm Apartments of the cold and large airy ones of the warm climate. They mostly consist in a Passage that terminates in a Hall of a rectangular Figure, on each side the Passage are private Rooms; from the Hall are Doors into the Kitchen and back Apartments on one side and bed or other retired Rooms on the other, from the Hall too is a Passage up Stairs; one Pair of Stairs to bedrooms and from them on to the Court yard frequently jut out Balconies. The Dutch, from having great Quantities of Animal food are rather corpulent ...

Of all the people I ever saw these are the most ceremonious, every Man is a Soldier, and wears his square rigged Hat, Sword, Epaulets and military Uniform; they never pass each other without a formal Bow which even descends to the lowest Ranks and it is even seen in the Slaves; by the bye they have great plenty of Slaves here which are principally Malays, some are brought from the Coast of Mozambique which are their Tillers of Land, and hard working Men but greatest Part of their Women slaves and domestics are Malay who as they have left off the dirty Custom of chewing betel nut are superior to those we afterwards saw at Timor, they have a few Hottentots amongst them which are easily distinguished by their Copper Colour, high Cheeks.

NSW Corps chief arrives in a veritable paradise

I find myself surrounded with gardens that flourish and produce fruits of every description. Vegetables here are in great abundance, and I live in a house as good as I could wish for ... - Lieut Governor Francis Grose, Commander of the NSW Corps, soon after arriving in Sydney, February, 1792.

'Prince of Rogues', swindler, joins Sydney Push

Our departure from Newgate was so sudden it was utterly impossible to leave you even a single word. We had not the least notice of it till 4 o'clock in the morning; and before we could well get the better of the shock, 319 of us were conveyed to the other side. - Letter from George Barrington to his wife (published in the London Morning Chronicle ), 9 March, 1792.

• Barrington, after a crimeful childhood in Ireland, became one of the most notorious swindlers in London, known as the 'prince of rogues'. He was transported to Sydney in 1791, was quickly pardoned and became a property owner and chief constable at Parramatta. He wrote many letters to his wife assuring her of his repentance. He eventually died, judged insane, in 1804, aged about 50.

'... great quantities of gum, like Dragon's Blood ...'

The 775-ton East Indiaman, Pitt , the biggest convict ship yet, arrived in Sydney on 14 February, 1792. She carried 400 convicts, the commandant of the newly-raised NSW Corps, Francis Grose ... and Sydney's first idle pisspot, Richard Atkins. When the near-new colony eventually needed a temporary Judge Advocate, the eminently unqualified Atkins got the job. In the meantime, he kept a journal of his first autumn in Sydney ...

9 April, 1792. On the 6th April left the Pitt (he was forced to give up the berth he had occupied in port for nearly two months because the ship was about to sail). This day, the 9th, attended a criminal court, composed of the Judge Advocate and commissioned officers of the navy or land forces. It was for the trial of a convict for robbing his master; event was conducted with the greatest propriety, and except a jury (which is the great palladium of English liberty) as conformable to the English law and custom. An Englishman would with reason spurn the idea of giving up life sanctioned by the verdict of an English jury, yet I cannot but conceive strict justice may be done by him as well as by officers whom we most suppose be men of some education, attended by the Judge Advocate, as by a jury consisting of twelve ignorant farmers or tradesmen who know but of what belongs to their own line of trade ...

11 April . A continual deluge of rain all night attended with violent gusts of wind from the SW and SE, it has continued this day without intermission and done a great deal of damage to the gardens and butts, it is unusual this time of year, but failed in February when it might have been expected. There has been a violent battle between the natives of Botany Bay and of this place in which many were wounded on both sides; the subject of the disputes was one of the natives having mentioned the name of a person deceased belonging to this clan, For so trifling a cause do men murder each other, but is it not the same in Europe? Read the history of civilised nations and we shall find so ...

17 April. Mild and regular weather, the sea breeze sets in generally about 11 o'clock. This evening I walked by myself to the Brick fields, about a mile from the Camp, for so Sydney is called, from its having been the spot they pitched their tents on the first landing. A very good road is made the whole way through it to the wood, where trees of an immense size borders it on both sides, their lofty and wide spreading branches look beautiful. The timber is of no value, but for burning, almost every tree of rotten at the heart, very hard and heavy and coarse-grained, emitting great quantities of gum like Dragon's Blood, but without its properties, and is totally useless. The underwood is mostly flowering trees some of whom are now in blossom of the most beautiful and vivid colours imaginable, and many of them most delicately formed. An arm of the sea appears through the wood and beyond it another wood rising ....

• Crews on early ships to NSW collected palm-like Dragon Trees (Dracaena dracho) from the Canary Island during stopovers, but it seems that Atkins might have been comparing the common Aussie gum tree to them.

Rum Corps goes into business

Amongst us we have raised a sufficient sum to take up the Britannia, and as all money matters are already settled with the master, who is also an owner, I have now to request you will interest yourself in our favour ... - Lieut Governor Francis Grose to Governor Arthur Phillip, Sydney, 4 October, 1792.

• Phillip refused to approve the NSW Corps' plan to go into private enterprise by chartering the vessel, Britannia , to bring goods to the colony. But the enterprising gentlemen of the soon-to-be-notorious 'Rum Corps' were not frustrated in their ambitions for long.

... and Rum Corps take over

All orders given by the captain who commands at Parramatta, respecting the convicts stationed there are to be obeyed ... - Acting Governor Francis Grose, 31 December, 1792.

• Grose had assumed power upon the departure of Phillip to England. His protégé was John Macarthur, commandant at Parramatta. The Rum Corps had taken over New South Wales and would rule until the accession of Macquarie in 1810.

1793: Execution of King Louis XV1 in Paris, 21 January. Some of his last words were said to be: 'What news of La Perouse?'

'.... human beings so close to nature.'

The second expedition undertaken by Messrs La Billardiere (botanist) and La Haye (botanist/gardener) took place on 7 November (1793), was more successful than the previous ones. They encountered some natives, and their meeting was so trustworthy that it was followed by others, each one just as friendly, giving us a most favourable impression on the inhabitants of this country. It is to be regretted that we have only met up with them at the end of our sojourn. If our stay in port could have been extended, we would have had a real opportunity of obtaining a very interesting insight on the lifestyle of human beings so close to nature, whose candour and kindness contrast so much with the vices of civilisation. Messrs La Billardiere and La Haye's excursion lasted two days. They did not see any inhabitants on the first day; but one of the men who accompanied them claimed to have seen fires close to where they spent the night. The next day, the two gentlemen went botanising on their own, some distance from the hut which had given them shelter and where they had left their belongings. While they were busy with their collection, they heard voices in the bushes, and before long saw quite a number of natives. They ignored their normal inclinations, since prudence would have caused them to reach for their guns and rejoin their companions. The natives followed them. They were beckoned to leave their weapons. They dropped on the ground the kind of javelin, finishing in a point, which they throw into trees with great dexterity and a good deal of strength. I think they use it against animals and it appears their only offensive weapon. Our gentlemen also parted with their guns. The natives came forth with confidence; and from that moment onwards, the most cordial relationship was established. Some of the women were not afraid to approach them. They, like the men, were entirely naked. The decision was made to demonstrate to these natives the use of our firearms. The men appeared frightened but did not distance themselves. But when they saw the arms being recharged, they made sign requesting cessation. - French Admiral Joseph-Antoine Raymond Bruny d'Entrecasteaux, Port du Nord, southeast Tasmania, January-February, 1793.

• Bruny d'Entrecasteaux was sent by the French government in 1791-93 with two vessels, La Recherché and L'Esperance , to search for the missing explorer La Perouse, who was last seen in Botany Bay in 1788. Their mission to find La Perouse was unsuccessful, but they did important charting and scientific work during two visits to Tasmania (then Van Diemens Land). Bruny d'Entrecasteaux and the commander of L'Esperance , Huon de Kermadec, both died during the voyage and the ships were handed over to the Dutch at Surabaya when the third-in-command, d'Aribeau, a royalist, heard of the French Revolution.

'... they are kind, without mistrust.'

When the gentlemen naturalists returned to the shore, the natives wanted to accompany them, and started walking with them. The boat's crew came forward to meet them and the same marks of friendship took place between the natives and the newcomers. Such trust seems to demonstrate the peaceful dispositions of these people; but it could also have been argued that having witnessed the superiority of our arms, they showed a pretence of friendship. However, a more decisive incident did prove in the most convincing way that they are not malevolent and that they have nothing to fear from these weapons which so terrified them. When Messrs La Billardiere, La Haye and their two companions of the excursion passed near the hut in which they had rested during the night, the natives made them understand they had seen them lying down and sleeping. Indeed, M. La Haye believed he had heard the sound of tree branches breaking, quite close to him. These four people, surprised during the night without protection, would have been the victims of the ferociousness of these savages, had they been as perverse as they seemed to M. Marion in 1772. The encounters we had with them later demonstrated they are kind, without mistrust. - French Admiral Joseph-Antoine Raymond Bruny d'Entrecasteaux, Port du Nord, southeast Tasmania, January-February, 1793.

• A French scientific expedition under Marc-Joseph Marion du Fresne (and the first to visit Tasmania since its discovery by the Dutchmen Abel Tasman in 1642) found friendly aborigines in Frederick Henry Bay (30km east of the present Hobart) on 4 March 1772. It was the first encounter between Europeans and aborigines on the island. The meeting turned nasty when one of the French officers unaccountably set fire to a bush one of aboriginal men had offered him. Shots and spears were exchanged, and at least one aborigine was killed.

Diarist James Boswell's touching souvenir

Leaves from Botany Bay used as Tea . - Note on a bag presented to the diarist James Boswell by Mary Broad, London, May, 1793.

• Mary Broad and the four men who survived the escape from Sydney were put on trial at the Old Bailey. James Boswell interceded and Mary received a free pardon on 2 March, 1793. She returned to Cornwall. The men were freed in November.

Beginnings of Macarthur dynasty

In the year 1794, I purchased from an officer Sixty Bengal Ewes and Lambs, which had been imported from Calcutta and very soon after I procured from the Captain of a Transport from Ireland two Irish Ewes and a young Lamb. - John Macarthur reminisces 25 years later about the foundations of the wool industry.

Mrs Marsden gives 'wet nurse' new meaning

About half past ten in the morning Mrs Marsden was brought to bed of a fine girl. She had an exceedingly good time, and I believe suffered as little as if she had all the assistance in the world. - Rev Samuel Marsden, aboard the vessel, William , off the south coast of Van Diemens Land, 2 March, 1794.

• Elizabeth Marsden, assisted by a convict girl, had an 'exceedingly good time' giving birth in a raging storm which washed her out of her bunk. Mr Marsden, suffice to say, did not feel any discomfort.

1794: Admiral Howe's 'glorious First of June' naval victory over France, off the French Atlantic coast.

Convicts to farmers: the first Australian Dream

A great number of those whose terms have expired have turned settlers some of whom are doing well, better than many farmers in England. - Letter from Rev Richard Johnson, Sydney, 29 July, 1794.

• Many of the First Fleet convicts, having been in hulks or prisons in England since 1786, were now free. Some would have liked to return home, but lacking the encouragement and wherewithal for passages, accepted land grants.

Macarthur grows richer, and richer

I have a farm containing nearly 250 acres, of which 100 are under cultivation, and the greater part of the remainder is cleared of the timber which grows upon it. Of this year's produce, I have sold 400 pounds worth, and I have now in my granaries upwards of 1800 bushels of corn. - John Macarthur, Parramatta, to his brother, James, England, 23 August, 1794.

• Macarthur, as inspector of public works, was the virtual administrator of New South Wales. He surrendered this position after Hunter's arrival, although Hunter believed he would be satisfied with nothing less 'than the full power of the Governor'.

Old salt John Hunter finds his land legs

This place I called the Cow Pasture Plains, and the Hill from where we first discovered them Mt Taurus. It lays from Sydney in a south-westerly direction from 50 to 55 miles. This part is really beautiful country. - Governor Hunter to Sir Joseph Banks, 21 December, 1795.

• Hunter led a party in search of stock missing from the First Fleet, after a convict had reported their presence (hearing, in turn, from aborigines) .

The Trial of Esther Abrahams
On 30 August, 1786, an unmarried, 15-year-old, doe-eyed Jewish milliner, just a teensy bit pregnant, faced London's Old Bailey charged with shoplifting 24 yards of black lace, value 50 shillings. Her name was Esther Abrahams and the penalty might have been the gallows.
Indeed, before the day was out, 15 of the Court's hapless clients would be sentenced to death, but another 32 lucky souls would be banished across the seas to Australia. Only a fortnight before, having lost the American Colonies, the Government had decided to send its felons to Botany Bay.
Esther had something strongly in her favour: she knew the name of the father of her unborn child, a London-based member of a wealthy Spanish Jewish family named Dorian. And he had been prevailed upon to hire England's most glamorous young lawyer to defend her.
The lawyer's name was William Garrow, a 26-year-old Middlesex village parson's son, and the attorney credited later with introducing the concept of 'innocent until proven guilty' during a 10-year career at the Old Bailey. Later, as Sir William Garrow, he became Solicitor-General, Attorney-General, and a judge. His 'presumption of innocence' is said to be Britain's gift to the world.
Esther was accused of stealing the lace from Charles and Joseph Harrop's large, elegant shop in Coventry St (now in WI and the heart of London's theatre district). A saleswomen, Hannah Crockett, who lived on the premises, said Esther came in between two and three in the afternoon and asked to see some black lace.
The transcript of events was taken by an entrepreneurial shorthand writer, Edward Hodgson ('Professor of Shorthand', who had the Old Bailey contract) and is in the spelling and phraseology of the period.
The questions were asked by the Court, under the stewardship of Thomas Wright, Lord Mayor of London. the Jury of solid London merchants and moneymen and, of course, William Garrow.
Some words are lost in antiquity, some of the evidence would have been confusing, even in 1786, but what follows is precisely what was said.
The evidence gives fascinating insights into the customs of the time of George 111. Basically, it seems, Esther was accused of dropping a card of lace so it could concealed under her skirts and retrieved later. It was a common means of theft from a shop.

'She took a piece of lace'

Hannah Crockett was the first prosecution witness ...
'I shewed her a piece of black lace, and asked her two shillings and tenpence, but told her I would take two shillings and ninepence; she bid me measure it, and there was nine yards; she asked what it came to. I turned round and took a pen and cast it up, and it came to one pounds four shillings and ninepence.'
(Court): 'Did you turn from her?'
'Yes, and the mean while I turned, she took a piece of lace; I was obliged to turn my back from her to get the pen; she then said she would not give me more than a guinea for it; I then looked in my box and missed a piece of black silk lace.'
(Court): 'How much might there be in this piece?'
'Twelve yards; the prisoner said she would give no more than a guinea; so missing the piece of lace, I said, if you will stop, I will see if there is any thing here that will do for you; I looked in one box, then in another; she went away and got two doors from us; I went after her, and said, you have taken a piece of lace, and she said, she had no such thing about her, and while Elizabeth South who was in the shop serving, went up stairs, she put her hand and dropped two cards of lace; I heard them drop, and I said, there you wicked devil! you have dropped two cards of lace.
(Court): 'Can you swear it dropped from her?'
'Yes, I can. I saw her put her hand down; I heard them drop; there was the laces; and one by putting it into her pocket was off the card: I took up two pieces of black silk lace, twelve yards in each; they were the property of the prosecutors; I can swear to the private marks that was on the cards, one of the marks is E.P. and P.R. they are the handwriting of Mr Charles Harrop; I can swear to the writing; the one I missed first is marked P.R.; she dropped two, but I missed only that one; I know that pattern; we only had one of that pattern, which made me miss it.'

'I saw it was gone'

(Court): 'Did you ever examine to see if the other piece was missing?'
'I did after we had been at the Justice's; the second card of lace was in the shop that morning before the prisoner came, and we had sold none that day; we sell it for three shillings and fourpence; it costs us two shillings and sixpence.'
(Court): 'Was it an old house keeper?' (old stock?)
'I fancy we have had it about twelvemonth; the other was twelve yards, valued at twenty pence per yard.'
(Court): Had you any idea of this woman's taking it?'
'I had not, till I saw it was gone.'
(Court): 'Did you see her at any time make any mot (move?) on it at which time you might conceive she took it.'
"No, not at all.'
(Court): 'She did nothing that could induce you at the time to think she was taking it?'
'No.'
(Jury): 'Pray, had she any money in her hand?'
'I did not see any; I did not search her.'

William Garrow cross-examines hostile witness!

(Mr Garrow, Prisoner's Counsel): 'You say you did not search her yourself, was she not searched by any body?
'She was not searched at all.'
(Garrow): 'Not in the back parlour?'
'No.'
(Garrow): 'Nor in the shop?'
'No, not at all.'
(Garrow): 'Was she so long in the shop as twenty minutes before you followed her?'
'I dare say she was.'
(Garrow): 'Yours is a pretty large shop?'
'Yes.'
(Garrow): How many people were backwards and forwards in that shop?'
'There were two people, but they were gone, besides Bartlett and South (sales assistants); the customers were gone before I shewed her the lace.
(Garrow): 'Are you sure of that?'
'Positive of that; I was on the opposite side of the counter.'
(Garrow): 'Were they men or women?'
'It was a man and a woman.'
(Court): 'Was there no lace lying about the counter?'
'None at all; they never lay about the counter; we sold the other customers black Barcelona handkerchiefs.'
(Garrow): 'Was Elizabeth Bartlett in the shop?'
'Yes.'
(Garrow): 'She is not here?'
'No.'
(Garrow): 'You had not sold any lace in the course of that morning?'
'No.'

'The men are never allowed to shew lace ...'

(Garrow): 'How many persons serve in the shop beside you?'
'There are two persons beside me, two shopmen; the shopmen were at home; they had never shewn any lace that day; the men are never allowed to shew lace till I am present.'
(Garrow): 'How near was this woman (Esther Abrahams) to the counter at the time you supposed the lace to have fallen from her?'
'She might be the space of half a yard.'
(Garrow): 'With her back to the counter?'
'No, her face to the counter.'
(Garrow): From which side do you suppose this lace to have fallen?'
'The right hand pockets; I was standing at her right hand side.'
(Garrow); 'As soon as she went out of the shop, you overtook her, before she got two doors from the shop?'
'Yes.'
(Garrow): 'Then, of course, you went out almost immediately after?'
'Certainly, sir.'
(Garrow): 'Now I wish you to swear positively, if you chuse it, and recollect that the life of that woman depends on your answer, perhaps,; will you venture to swear that the lace did not fall from the counter?'
'Yes, I will.'
(Garrow): 'Did you see it drop?'
'No, I heard it drop, and that is sufficient.'

Is it common quality lace, or is it not!

(Garrow): A pretty common lace for a cloak, isn't it?'
(Hannah Crockett cont.): 'It is not a common, ordinary cloak lace.'
(Garrow): 'Is it not a very usual cloak lace?'
'Yes.'
(Garrow): 'Now how many thousand yards like that do you think I could purchase in the street where you live?'
'I cannot say to that pattern.'
(Garrow): 'Are they both common laces?'
'Yes.'
(Garrow): 'Are not they both remnants?'
'We do not look upon it is a remnant; there are different lengths.'
(Garrow): 'How much is there in a piece?'
'There were thirty-three yards if this originally; now there are twelve yards, a proper quantity for a cloak.'
(Garrow): 'Do you take this to be a whole piece?'
'Sometimes we have them in twelve yards.'
(Garrow): 'Upon your oath, do not you know it is not a whole piece, look at it, has there been none cut from it?'
'It may be cut.'
(Garrow): 'Upon your oath, has it not been cut?'
'I am not sure; I cannot say.'
(Garrow): 'Upon your oath, has it not been cut, and do not you know it has?'
'I have not cut it myself.'
(Garrow): 'Upon your oath, are you not sure it has been cut?'
'I told you I cannot tell nothing about it; I cannot take my oath to it.'
(Garrow): 'Do you not know it has been cut by the inspection of it?'
'It may have been cut.'
(Garrow): 'Do you believe it has not been cut?'
'I do not know.'

A customer gives evidence

(Elizabeth Smith sworn): 'I live with a friend, one Mrs Brown, in Silver-street; Mrs Brown and I always use the shop for what we want; and I happened to be in the shop and saw the prisoner there, (and I saw Mrs Crockett showing her lace) on the 27th of July, between two and three; I am, sure it was the prisoner; I was in the shop and the other shopwoman was serving me; her name is Elizabeth Bartlett; nobody else was on the shop but Mrs Crockett serving the prisoner with the lace.'
(Court): 'And you saw no more than that?'
'I saw the lace on the ground as Mrs Crockett moved the prisoner.'
(Court): 'How near might be the lace to the prisoner?'
'Close to her; Mrs Crockett said, I insist on having this woman searched, and the prisoner immediately put her hand under the cloak; then I saw the lace on the ground.'
(Garrow): 'You was purchasing something of Miss Elizabeth Bartlett, I understand?'
Prisoner: 'I leave it to my counsel.'
(Court report): 'The prisoner called three witnesses, who all gave her a good character. Guilty of stealing, but not privately.'

Esther Abrahams was sentenced to seven years' transportation. She gave birth to Rosanna Julian in Newgate Prison on 18 March, 1787, and they were mustered for the First Fleet, initially on the Prince of Wales, then the Lady Penrhyn. On board, she met Lieutenant George Johnston, of the Royal Marines.
Johnston is reputed to have been the first man ashore in Sydney Cove where he immediately installed Esther and Rosanna in his tent.
Johnston transferred to the NSW Corps when the Marines left Sydney, led the troops in the suppression of the Castle Hill convict uprising in 1804 and sided with the reberls during John Macarthur's Rum Rebellion in 1808. He finally married Esther on 12 November, 1814, at the Reverend Samuiel Marsden's St John's Church of England, Parramatta.

(• We are indebted to the Universities of Hertfordshire and Sheffield for putting online the Proceedings of the Old Bailey, 1674-1834.)

Black West Indian bolts, named first bushranger!

The many robberies which have lately been committed render it necessary that some steps should be taken to put a stop to a practice so destructive of the happiness and comfort of the industrious. As it is well known that a fellow known as Black Caesar has absented himself some time past from his work, and has carried with him a Muscat, notice is hereby given that whoever shall secure this man Black Caesar and bring him in with his arms shall receive as a reward five gallons of spirits. - Government Order, Sydney, 29 January, 1796.

• John 'Black' Caesar, a West Indian-born (some say Madagascan) convict transported on the First Fleet for petty thievery in London, 'bolted' and became Australia's first bushranger. He was shot dead by settlers at Liberty Plains, north of Sydney, soon after the reward was posted.

Lieut Governor David Collins wrote of Caesar: This man was always reputed the hardest working convict in the country; his frame was muscular and well calculated for labour; but in his intellects he did not very widely differ from a brute; his appetite was ravenous, for he could in any one day devour the full ration for two days. To gratify his appetite he was compelled to steal from others, and all his thefts were directed to that purpose. He was such a wretch, and so indifferent about meeting death, that he declared while in confinement, that if he should be hanged, he would create a laugh before he was turned off, by playing some trick upon the executioner. Holding up such a mere animal as an example was not expected to have the proper or intended effect; the governor therefore, with the humanity that was always conspicuous in his exercise of the authority vested in him, directed that he should be sent to Garden Island, there to work fetters; and in addition to his ration of provisions he was to be supplied with vegetables from the Garden.

On 22 December, 1789, Caesar absconded in a canoe from Garden Island, where according to Collins 'his situation had been some time back rendered more eligible by being permitted to work without irons'. He surrendered, injured, on 30 January, 1790. Collins wrote: After his escape from and subsequent visit to Garden Island, found his way up to Rose Hill, whence he was brought very much wounded by some natives whom he had met with in the woods. Being fearful of severe punishment for some of his late offences, he reported, on being brought in, that he had fallen in with our cattle, which had been so long lost; that they had increased by two calves; that they seemed to be under the care of eight or ten natives, who attended them closely as they grazed; and that, on his attempting to drive the cattle before him, he was wounded by another party of natives. The circumstances of his being wounded was the only part of his story that met with any credit, and that could not well be contradicted, as he had several spear wounds about him in different parts of his body; but everything else was looked upon as a fabrication (and that not well contrived) to avert the lash which he knew hung over him. He was well known to have as small as share of veracity as of honesty. His wounds, however, requiring care and rest, he was secured, and placed under the surgeon's care at the hospital.

Caesar took to the bush again, was recaptured, and escaped once more in 1794. The Governor issued an order on 29 January, 1796, offering a reward for the capture of Black Caesar and warning settlers against providing miscreants with ammunition. Collins wrote: Notwithstanding the reward, Black Caesar remained at large, and scarcely a morning arrived without a complaint being made to the magistrates of a loss of property to have been occasioned by this man. In fact, every theft that was committed was ascribed to him.

The end came for Black Caesar on 15 February, 1796. Collins wrote: .. information was received that black Caesar had that morning been shot by one Wimbow. This man and another, allured by the reward, had been for some days in quest of him. Finding his haunt, they concealed themselves all day at the edge of the brush which they perceived him to enter at dusk. In the morning he came out, when, looking round him and seeing his danger, he presented his musquet; but before he could pull the trigger Wimbow fired and shot him. He was taken to the hut of Rose ... where he died in a few hours.

Sydney's first (recorded) hangover

God has been very good to me, an unworthy sinner. I bring it upon myself often. I have reason to think that to be the case at present. May I have fortitude to resist all temptation. - Court Registrar Richard Atkins' diary, 11 February, 1796.

• Atkins was suffering alcoholic remorse. He was the bane of governors, but his aristocratic connections in England helped him survive their contempt until the new governor, Lachlan Macquarie, sent him home in the Hindostan in 1810 .

Gentle, damp Old English countryside it ain't

... two men are scarcely sufficient in this country for the common domestic purpose of procuring fuel and water, and the taking care of a small garden, far from the clearing of heavy timber, attending a flock, and cultivating the quantity of land allowed the officers, all of which is done by manual labour. - Governor John Hunter, Sydney, to the Duke of Portland, Secretary for Colonies, London, 28 April, 1796.

• The settlers, as yet, had no horse power. The officers' first grants were 100 acres. The soldier settlers and the first free immigrants, who arrived on the Bellona in 1792, received considerably less, based on the far-away British Government's notion of what was required to sustain a peasant family.

Bennelong still calls Australia home

I am very well. I hope you are well. I live at the governor's. I have every day dinner there. I have not my wife; another black man took her away. We had murry doings; he speared me in the back, but I better now. His name is Carroway. All my friends alive and well. Not me go to England any more. I am at home now. - Bennelong (through an officer friend), Sydney, to a man who had befriended him in England, 29 August, 1796.

• Bennelong accompanied Governor Arthur Phillip on his return to England in 1792. He came back to Sydney with Governor John Hunter in 1795. Another aborigine, Yem-mer-awnee died in London in 1794.

' Die and be damned,' the pleasant chap said.

I will not hang you; it is too gentle a death, but I will cut you to pieces. - Thomas Dennott, master of the convict ship, Britannia , 1797.

• The Britannia , sailing from Cork, was commanded by Dennott, a sadist who was reputedly the cruellest captain in the history of transportation to Australia. One prisoner, begging for water during his flogging, was told: 'Die and be damned!' On arrival in Sydney, Dennott was charged with murdering six convicts through the severity of his punishments, but escaped prosecution.

One for the records: first slaughtered lyre bird

Here I shot a bird about the size of a pheasant, but the tail of it very much resembles a peacock, which are white, orange and lead in colour, and black at the ends; its body betwixt a brown and green; brown under his neck and black upon his head; black legs and very long claws. - Explorer John Price, west of Sydney, 26 January, 1798.

• Price was a member of a party examining the area around the Nepean River. This is the first recorded shooting of a lyre bird.

Moral minority protests about the sinful colony

Every order that had been given tending to promote morality and religion seemed to be cast aside, and fresh orders issued tending to banish whatever (in the opinion of a good and virtuous mind) is, or ought to be, first considered and promoted (particularly in a colony like this, where by far the majority of inhabitants are lost to all sense of virtue, and abandoned to every species of wickedness), viz. a reverence for the Supreme Being, and a strict observance of all His just and righteous precepts ... - Rev Richard Johnson to Governor John Hunter, Sydney, 5 July, 1798.

• Johnson, the colony's first chaplain, railed against the excesses committed under the rule of the Rum Corps. He had been to every execution conducted in Sydney, had been refused government money to help him build his church and had witnessed the gross drunkenness of convicts permitted to work on the Sabbath. He was pleased to go home with Hunter in 1800.

1798: Rising of the United Irishmen ensures that 750 political prisoners will be transported to NSW, the first on the William Pitt and Minerva from Cork in 1799.

'No people on earth can be happier than we are'

See how bountifully Providence has dealt with us. At this time I can truly say no people on earth can be happier than we are. This Country possesses numerous advantages to persons holding appointments under Government; it seems the only part of the Globe where quiet is to be expected. We enjoy here one of the finest climates in the world. The necessaries of life are abundant, and fruitful soil affords us many luxuries. Nothing induces me to wish for a change but the difficulty of educating our children, and were it otherwise it would would be unjust towards them to confine them to so narrow a society. My desire is that they may see a little more of the world and better learn to appreciate this retirement. Such as it is the little creatures all speak of going Home to England with rapture - my dear Edward almost quitted me without a tear. They have early imbibed an idea that England is the seat of happiness and delight, that it contains all that can be gratifying to their senses, and that of course they are there to possess all that they desire. - Letter to England from Elizabeth Macarthur, Parramatta, 1 September, 1798.

• John Macarthur was a man who preferred to pass his leisure hours with his family. Elizabeth must have been reflecting his views in their fireside chats on the satisfactory state of his feud with Hunter, as well as her contentment with the progress of their farm at Parramatta. At this stage, their children were Edward, born in England before they sailed in the Second Fleet in 1790, and Elizabeth, John and James, all born in NSW.

1798: Admiral Nelson's comprehensive victory over the French, 1 November, in the Battle of the Nile ends Napoleon's eastward ambitions.

'Ironed, handcuffed and shackled ...'

It was, one would think, enough to soften the heart of the most inhuman being to see us ironed, handcuffed and shackled in a dark, nasty, dismal deck, without the least wholesome air, but all this did not penetrate the breast of our inhuman captain ... - Convict William Noah, writing later about the Hillsborough , 1798-99.

• The Hillsborough , under William Kingston, lost 95 of 300 prisoners to fever.

1799: Napoleon Bonaparte seizes power in France in a coup d'etat, 9 November, guaranteeing that French navigators will immortalise his family's names, particularly on the southern coast of Australia.

  2. 1800-1809

'This sink of iniquity, Sydney, is improving in its manners and concerns ...' (Governor William Bligh, Sydney, 5 November, 1807)

JOHN Macarthur, irascible, unstable, yet lover of home and hearth, was the dominant figure of the colony in the first decade of the 1800s, whether he was in Sydney or in exile in England. He was an artful plotter against the Governors of the period. He conspired to have his cohorts, including his dutiful wife, Elizabeth, spread all manner of tittle-tattle in the Old Country. He bribed the aristocratic wives of influential men in London with prestigious colonial fauna including two live emus, a swan and a goose. Macarthur's principal intention was to extend his pastoral interests in NSW for the benefit of himself and his heirs. His first protagonist of the new century was Governor Philip Gidley King, who came from an impoverished background in the English trading classes, but had proved himself a stout servant of the Crown as a commander in the First Fleet. He had impeccable colonial credentials, having fathered two illegitimate sons by a convict woman, Ann Inett, at Norfolk Island.

King assumed power in September, 1800. He came into immediate, vitriolic confrontation with Macarthur. King wished to check the outrageous, monopolist activities of the Rum Corps, of which Macarthur was the main player. Macarthur, fortuitously, gave King a splendid opportunity to be rid of this vexatious individual. Macarthur wounded his commanding officer, William Paterson, in a duel and was ordered to return to England to face court-martial. In England, Macarthur triumphed. The court-martial charges were dropped, he resigned his army commission, secured a 5000-acre land grant, Camden, and returned smugly in his own whaling ship, Argo , in September, 1805. He was ready to embark on the next phase of becoming the greatest fine wool baron in the colony.

The common man and woman, the silent majority, displayed a lack of interest in these affairs of state. They comprised convicts and emancipists, and a growing number of free settlers. Most of the 'Came Free' farmers were settled on the Hawkesbury River and they were concerned with floods and their problems with increasingly troublesome aborigines, who had yet to learn that they had been dispossessed. In 1795, David Collins said an open war seemed to have begun between the settlers and the aborigines. There was also the Irish Question. After the rebellion of 1798 in Ireland, many rebels, mostly peasant croppies, had been transported. Suddenly, to its great alarm, the colonial power realised that thirty percent of the population was Roman Catholic. They had no great allegiance to King George 111 and some revolted in 1804. This was suppressed in righteous bloodshed. Governor King, meanwhile presided over the settlements in Van Diemens Land and Newcastle. There was no inland thrust; they clung to the coast.

William Bligh replaced King as Governor in August, 1806. His reputation as a martinet, largely based on the Bounty mutiny, preceded him and his natural enemies of the Rum Corps, after initial pleasantries, set out to undermine him. He did some silly things, such as driving about Sydney in sumptuous style with his voluptuous young daughter, Mary Putland, beside him. He also attempted to weaken the Rum Corps' grip on the economy, and this would be fatal.

But what mischief did they do?

We continue ignorant of those (crimes) of every other convict sent to this country, because the particular crimes are never inserted in the list sent with them. we, therefore, cannot so well judge of the character as we ought . - Note by Governor John Hunter, Sydney, 20 April, 1800.

• Complaints about the incompleteness of convict lists had been made as early as Arthur Phillip's term. They began to improve after Hunter's tart comment and were perfectly satisfactory by 1810.

Governor Hunter, a 'tool of the artful and designing'

Be persuaded, Sir, that (although he had been made a tool of by the artful and designing friends he had in this Colony), honest and upright as he was in himself, he was sadly duped by those he had about him. - Governor Philip Gidley King, Sydney, to the Duke of Portland, Secretary for Colonies, London, 28 September, 1800.

• This was the new Governor's epitaph to the ineffective government of John Hunter, who sailed home in the Buffalo . King approached his new task vigorously, saying that 'nothing short of a total change in the system of administration' was necessary.

Matthew Flinders: off from UK with a leaky start

The leakiness of the ship increases with the continuance of the southwest winds; and at the end of of a week, amounted to five inches of water in an hour. It seemed, however, that the leaks were mostly above the water's edge, for on tacking to the westward they were diminished to two inches. This working of the oakum out of the seams indicated a degree of weakness which, in a ship destined to encounter every hazard, could not be contemplated without uneasiness. The very large ports, formerly cut in the sides to receive thirty-two-pound charades, joined to what I had been able to collect from the dock yards officers, had given me an unfavourable opinion of her strength; and this was now but too much confirmed; should it be asked, why representations were not made, and a stronger vessel procured? I answer, that the exigencies of the navy were such at that time, that I was given to understand no better ship could be spared from the service; and my anxiety to complete the investigation of the coasts of Terra Australis did not admit of refusing the one offered. - Matthew Flinders, Voyage to Terra Australis , off the African coast, 2 September, 1801.

• Just 43 days out of England, Matthew Flinders came to the dull realisation that the Investigator was hopelessly unsuited to the voyage. Eventually, the ship's poor condition was to cost him the opportunity to complete his survey of the northern and western coasts of the continent and, eventually, forced him into the hands of the French at Mauritius for years of open arrest.

Macarthur arrested after duel shooting

... I am the person who has been betrayed, who has been exulted over and who has been treated with the basest ingratitude and blackest treachery. - John Macarthur to William Minchin, adjutant of the New South Wales Corps, 21 September, 1801.

• The anti-Macarthur faction was, indeed, exulting. This time, he had surely gone too far. He had baited Governor King, immersed himself in seditious tales about him, and begun grievances with other colonial citizens. Finally, it became too much for one man, Lieut. Colonel William Paterson, Macarthur's commanding officer in the NSW Corps. He challenged Macarthur to a duel and was shot in the shoulder. Governor King seized the opportunity to place Macarthur under house arrest and order his court martial in London.

Flinders adopts Cook's health plans

At this time, we had not a single person in the sick list, both officers and men being fully in good health, as when we sailed from Spithead. I had begun very early to put in execution the beneficial plan, first practised and made known by the great captain Cook. It was in the standing orders of the ship, that on every fine day the deck below and the cockpits should be cleared, washed, aired with stoves, and sprinkled with vinegar. Care was taken to prevent the people sleeping upon deck, or lying down in their wet clothes; and once in every fortnight or three weeks, as circumstances permitted, their beds, and the contents of their chests and bags, were opened out and exposed to the sun and air. - Matthew Flinders, A Voyage To Terra Australis , off the west African coast, 16 October, 1801.

• Many of the health measures pioneered by James Cook on his Pacific cruises had been adopted by First Fleet surgeons in 1787-88. Flinders, starting from England with a fit, young crew of volunteers, naturally followed suit. But modern practices were not universal. When Nicholas Baudin, whom Flinders had met in Encounter Bay, South Australia, arrived in Port Jackson aboard Le Geographe on 20 June, 1802, only twelve of the crew of 170 were fit to perform their tasks, such was the toll of scurvy.

Jolly Swagman's ancestor?

You are rich and I am poor,

When this is gone I'll come for more - Thomas Peeve, convicted sheep thief, London, c. 1801.

• Peeve was transported to NSW, a sheep duffer's heaven, for stealing a ewe valued at one guinea.

Macarthur outwits accusers

Experience has convinced every man in this colony that there are no resources which art, cunning, impudence, and a pair of basilisk eyes can afford that he does not not put into practice to obtain any point that he takes. - Governor Philip Gidley King, Sydney, describing John Macarthur, 8 November, 1801.

• Macarthur's court martial documents, mysteriously, were lost on the voyage. Those reptile-like eyes apparently mesmerised the authorities and the court-martial was abandoned.

Flinders begins his charting of Australia

At two in the morning, we had 80 fathoms, and veered toward the land. It was seen from the masthead at five; and the highest part, the same which had been set in the evening, bore N. 12deg W. This is the largest of the before-mentioned Isles of St Alourn; but as half past seven, we saw hills extending from behind, and, to all appearance, joining it on the mainland. This supposed isle is, therefore, what I denominate Cape Aleutian, as being the southwestern, and most projecting part of Leeuwin's Land (Western Australia). - Matthew Flinders, A Voyage To Terra Australis , off the southwest coast of Australia, 7 December, 1801.

• Flinders' charting of the Australian coast had begun. He continued the painstaking task throughout the summer and autumn of 1801-02.

Before sunset, the westernmost isle of D'Entrecasteaux's Archipal de la Recherché was in sight to the eastward, and at half past seven, our distance from it was about six miles. The French admiral had mostly skirted around the archipelago, a sufficient reason for me to attempt passing through the middle, if the weather did not make the experiment too dangerous. It was fine at this time, and the breeze moderate at south-south-west; and I therefore took measures to be in with the western group as early on the following morning as possible to have the whole day for getting through. - Matthew Flinders, A Voyage To Terra Australis , near the present port of Esperance, 8 January, 1802.

• The archipelago was discovered by the French admiral Joseph-Antoine Bruny D'Entrecasteaux late in 1792 during an unsuccessful attempt to find the missing Comte Jean-Francis La Perouse, who had not been heard of since 1788 (in 1828, it was established that his expedition had come to grief north of the New Hebrides). After his explorations on the Western Australian coast, the admiral went to Van Diemens Land, where he named D'Entrecasteaux Channel and Bruny Island.

Observer's thoughts on the horrors of Newcastle, 1802

They have thar poor head shaved and sent up to the Coale river and thear Carrey Coals from Day Light in the morning till Dark at knight and half starved ... it is very cruel indeed Norfolk islent is a Bad places a naf to send aney poor Cratuer. - Letter to England from convict Margaret Catchpole, Sydney, 21 January, 1802.

Loss of seven men on the Investigator's cutter

At dusk in the evening, the cutter was seen under sail, returning from the mainland; but not arriving in half an hour, and the sight of it having been lost rather suddenly, a light was shown and Mr Fowler went in a boat, with a lantern to see what might have happened. Two hours passed without receiving any tidings. A gun was then fired, and Mr Fowler returned soon afterward, but alone. Near the situation where the cutter had last been seen, he met with so strong a rippling of tide that he himself narrowly escaped being upset; and there was reason to fear that it had actually happened to Mr Thistle. - Matthew Flinders, A Voyage To Terra Australis , at the entrance to Spencer Gulf, 21 February, 1802.

• Thistle, Investigator's master and six young seamen drowned. The wreckage of the upturned cutter was found next day. Cape Catastrophe commemorated the disaster and six islets were named after Thistle's shipmates. Thistle Island had already been named.

Macarthur causes more anxiety

Finding that I was betrayed, that improper constructions were put upon my Orders, that I was treated by these officers with indignity, and that the probable end would be, so to reduce my respectability and authority as to injure the discipline of the Corps, roused the apprehension of which, and yielding to my much injured feelings, I called up Captain Macarthur for satisfaction. - Lieut Colonel William Paterson, Sydney, to Sir Joseph Banks, London, 11 March, 1802.

• Paterson was profoundly guilty of waffle. He wrote to Banks, his friend, explaining why he had challenged Macarthur to a duel. Banks might have been mystified how the discipline of the New South Wales Corps could have been helped by a duel between its commanding officer and his deputy. Especially when the commanding officer lost. But Banks was 20,000km from the juvenile happenings in Sydney.

Massacre of 31 'roos on Kangaroo Island

I had with me a double-barrelled gun, fitted with a bayonet, and the gentlemen, my companions, had muskets. It would be difficult to guess how many kangaroos were seen; but I killed ten, and the rest of the party made up the number to thirty-one, taken on board in the course of the day; the least of them weighing sixty-nine and the largest one hundred and twenty-five pounds. - Matthew Flinders, A Voyage To Terra Australis , Kangaroo Island, 22 March, 1802.

• It was their first fresh food for four months and Flinders named the island in gratitude to those who had made the supreme sacrifice.

1802: Treaty of Amiens, 27 March, brings 14 months respite in the Napoleonic Wars, but complicates affairs for Matthew Flinders when he arrives in French-controlled Mauritius in December, 1803

Dastardly Froggies! Clear the decks!

Saw something ahead which proved to be a ship. Cleared at quarters and showed our colours. On their showing French colour with an English Jack forward, hoisted a white flag, and as the ship was steering free towards us, shortened sail and hove to being ready for action. On the stranger coming up, found it to be Le Geographe, Captain Baudin ... Matthew Flinders' log, Encounter Bay, South Australia, 8 April, 1802.

• After his cautious encounter with Nicholas Baudin, he proceeded eastwards. On 26 April, he found himself outside an inlet, which he presumed to be the entrance to Westernport Bay. With considerable skill, he tacked the Investigator through the entrance - and promptly stuck fast on a mud bank. He was in Port Phillip Bay! And it had already been discovered. ( see 27 April, 1802 ).

Richard Brooks' murderous avarice

I determined to shape my course for the Cape to obtain some medical assistance and to give the sick troops a few days on shore, and at the same time to procure a supply of bread, as we began to grow short owing to the quantity damaged by the very bad weather we experienced on our first sailing from Ireland - Richard Brooks, captain of the convict ship, Atlas , Capetown, 12 April, 1802

• There's a pack of lies! Brooks, who had valuable private merchandise, was meant to sail directly from Rio de Janeiro to Sydney. But in Rio, he heard there was a glut of European goods on the market in Sydney. He made up a story about a mutiny by Irish convicts so he could divert to Capetown and sell his loot there. Brooks' avarice made the Atlas a hell ship. By the time, they reached Sydney, 63 men convicts and two women had died. Yet he escaped prosecution and, eventually, settled in NSW where he accumulated a fortune as a landowner.

Flinders enters Port Phillip ... too late!

... I congratulated myself on having made a new and useful discovery; but here again, I was in error. This place, as I learned afterwards at Port Jackson, had been discovered ten weeks before by Lieutenant John Murray, who had succeeded Captain (James) Grant in command of the Lady Nelson. He had given it the name of Port Phillip, and to the rocky point on the east side of the entrance, Point Nepean. - Matthew Flinders, A Voyage To Terra Australis, inside Port Phillip Heads, 27 April, 1802.

• Flinders' frustrations were obvious. Everywhere he went on the southern coast, it seemed, someone had been there before him. Captain George Vancouver had explored the southwest corner of the continent in 1791; D'Entrecasteaux had been further east on the coast in 1792; Lieutenant Murray had beaten him to Port Phillip Bay; and then, to make matters worse, Captain Grant had sailed the Lady Nelson from England via Bass Strait in 1800 before handing the ship over to Murray in Sydney. The Lady Nelson was a 60-tonne purpose-built vessel for coastal surveys. It was meant to be given to Flinders in Sydney for his own charting work!

Flinders reaches Sydney: crew all fit

At one o'clock we gained the heads, a pilot came on board, and soon after three the Investigator was anchored in Sydney Cove. There was not a single individual on board who was not upon the deck working the ship into harbour; and it may be averred, that the officers and crew were, generally speaking, in better health than on the day we sailed from Spithead, and not in less good spirits. - Matthew Flinders, A Voyage To Terra Australis , Sydney, 9 May, 1802.

• Compare this with appalling health of Baudin's scurvy-ridden crew on Le Geographe when they arrived in Sydney a month later. The ship's surgeon, Dr Taillefer, reported: Bereft of the most effective remedies, confined in a narrow ship, the sick were multiplying every day. One in ten men had already died; even the ship's monkey succumbed. In Sydney, the General Hospital was given over to the sick of Le Geographe .

Flinders departs on ill-fated voyage (1)

Lieutenant John Murray, commander of the brig Lady Nelson, having received orders to put himself under my command, I gave him a small code of signals, and directed him, in case of separation, to repair to Harvey's Bay (Queensland); which was to enter by a passage said to have been found by the south sea whalers between Sandy Cape and Break-sea Spit. In the morning, we sailed out of Port Jackson together; and the breeze being fair and fresh, ran rapidly to the northward, keeping at a little distance from the coast. - Matthew Flinders, A Voyage To Terra Australis , leaving Sydney, 22 July, 1802.

• Flinders left Sydney after 74 days, in which he had the Investigator provisioned and partially repaired. Captain James Cook had explored this part of the coast in 1770. Flinders met the Lady Nelson , as arranged, in Hervey Bay, 300km north of the present site of Brisbane on 30 July, but realised that the smaller vessel was an 'indifferent sailor' and lacked the speed to keep up with the Investigator . On 18 October, he sent the Lady Nelson back to Sydney.

Investigator's leakiness worsens

The wind blew fresh from the eastward all night, and raised a short swell which tried the ship more than anything we had encountered from the time of leaving Port Jackson; and I was sorry to find, brought on her former leakiness, to the amount of five inches of water per hour. - Matthew Flinders, A Voyage To Terra Australis , off Ayr, north Queensland, 20 October, 1802

• Flinders was anxious to escape from the treachery of the Great Barrier Reef and make for the relative safety of Torres Strait before the onset of the monsoon. Investigator's renewed leakiness would worsen and eventually force him to abandon his survey on 26 November, 1802, in the Gulf of Carpentaria.

Flinders abandons survey because of rotten ship

Mr Aken has known several ships of the same kind, and built at the same place as the Investigator; and has always found that when they begin to rot they went on very fast. From the state to which the ship seems now advanced, it is our joint opinion, that in twelve month there will scarcely be a sound timber in her; but that if the remains in fine weather and happen no accident, she may run six months longer without much risk. - John Aken, master, and Russel Mart, carpenter, sloop Investigator , near Bentinck Island, Gulf of Carpentaria, 26 November, 1802.

• Flinders determined to return to Sydney via the West Australian coast, making no effort to continue his charting. He reached Sydney on 9 June, 1803. The vessel remained there, undergoing an overhaul, until it was sailed back to England by Captain William Kent in 1805. By then, Flinders was a prisoner of the French on Mauritius.

European discovery of Yarra River

At the usual time the same party as yesterday, with the addition of the doctor; went on shore; for about a mile the land dry, a light sandy soil; and afterwards, a large swamp, with three lagoons in it, all dry ... soon afterwards we came to a large river. ... - Acting Surveyor General Charles Grimes, Port Phillip, 2 February, 1803.

• The discoveries by John Murray and Matthew Flinders in Port Phillip Bay led to a further expedition early next year. Grimes apparently discovered the Yarra River, but did not think highly of the settlement prospects of the site of Melbourne. Later in 1803, Lieutenant Governor David Collins arrived from England with a party of free settlers and convicts to settle at the present site of Sorrento, but they moved across to Hobart in 1804, citing lack of fresh water.

Froggies foiled! British settle Van Diemens Land

It was reported to me soon after the French Ships sailed that a principal object of their voyage was to fix on a Place at Van Diemens Land for a Settlement, and that the French Officers who had talked of it had pointed out a particular place i.e. what the French call Baie du Nord in Storm Bay Passage. - Governor Philip Gidley King, Sydney, to Evan Nepean, Secretary to the Admiralty, London, 9 May, 1803.

• King, displaying commendable paranoia about French intentions, decided to send Lieutenant John Bowen to establish a settlement in the Derwent River. The French vessels were the Geographe and Naturaliste , under the overall command of Nicholas Baudin ( see 8 April, 1802 ) which were engaged on scientific endeavours.

Back in Sydney , Investigator declared rotten

We find generally that the plank on both side is so far decayed as to require shifting, even had the timbers been sound. The above being the state of the Investigator thus far, we think it altogether unnecessary to make any further examination; being unanimously of opinion that she is not worth repairing in any country and that it is impossible in this country to put her in a state fit for going to sea. - Report into the condition of the Investigator , Sydney, 14 June, 1803.

• Two independent ships' captains and the master builder of NSW issued this damning report on Investigator , although she was made fit to return to England, a voyage which she barely completed.

1803: Ludwig van Beethoven dedicates his Third Symphony to Napoleon,

angrily rips out the dedication next year when he declares himself Emperor, renames symphony Eroica.

Flinders departs on ill-fated voyage (2)

On the 10th I took leave of my respected friend, the Governor of New South Wales (King), and received his dispatches for England; and Lieutenant Fowler having given a small code of signals to the Bridgewater and Cato, we sailed out of Port Jackson together, at eleven o'clock of the same morning and steered north-eastwards for Torres Strait. - Matthew Flinders, England-bound, leaving Sydney, 10 August, 1803.

• Flinders had decided to return to England to get another ship to complete his survey of the Australian coast. He sailed on the warship, Porpoise , under the command of Lieutenant Robert Fowler, who had been first officer on the Investigator . They were accompanied by the huge East Indiaman, Bridgewater , and the smaller Cato .

Flinders ill luck continues: Wrecked on the Reef!

Our foremast was carried away at the second or third shock; and the bottom was presently reported to be stove in, and the hold full of water. - Matthew Flinders, Wreck Reef (Qld, 17 August, 1803.

• The Porpoise and the Cato had run aground 700 miles north of Port Jackson. Unaccountably, the Bridgewater left the crews to their fate. The men gathered on a sandbar until Flinders gallantly commanded a longboat back to Sydney for assistance. While there, he took command of the 30-tonne Cumberland and set off for England again.

First koala reported ... looks wise, early reports say

This creature is somewhat larger than the Wombat, and although at first it might be said to resemble it, nevertheless it differs from that animal. The fore and hind legs are about an equal length, having five sharp talons at each of the extremities, with which it must have climbed the highest trees with the greatest facility. The fur that covers it is soft and fine, and of a mixed grey colour. The ears are short and open; the graveness of the visage, which differs little in colour from the back, would seem to indicate more than a little portion of animal sagacity; and the teeth resemble those of the rabbit. - Sydney Gazette , 21 August, 1803.

• This is the first description of the koala (the detailed description leads the suspicion that someone shot it for a good close look).

Stormy trip to Tasmania, but three whales killed

After a passage of twelve days, we arrived in the Derwent, ourselves all well, but the cattle very indifferent, the effects of a severe gale on the second day we left Port Jackson, which, notwithstanding Captain Bunker did everything in his power, even so far as heaving the ship to for their safety, bruised them so much that we lost one cow, three sheep, and four lambs. Much more stock was lost belonging to myself and the settlers. Upon the whole, I have been the greatest sufferer. On the Friday after we sailed, it being calm, Captain Bunker was fortunate enough to kill three sperm whales, and it being light unfavourable weather, we anchored for three days successively about Oyster Island and was baffled for two days by light winds in Frederick Henry Bay; however, on Sunday the 12th, to my great satisfaction, I found the Lady Nelson in Risdon Cove, having been fortunate enough to arrive five days before us. - Dispatch from Lieut John Bowen, Risdon Cove (VDL) to Governor Philip Gidley King, Sydney, 20 September, 1803.

• Permanent European settlement had begun in Van Diemens Land, ostensibly to foil French intentions to settle there.

Temporary settlement in Port Phillip

The Commissary is directed to issue, until further orders, the following ration weekly: - to civil, military and free settlers - beef, albs; or pork, albs; biscuit, albs; flour, alb; sugar, 6ozs. To women, two-thirds. Children above five years, half; and children under five years, a quarter of the above ration. A copper will be immediately erected for the convenience of cooking, and person appointed to dress the provisions, which are to be ready every day at 12 o'clock. Half a pint of spirits is allowed to the military daily . - General order, Sorrento (Vic), 16 October, 1803.

• The settlers at Britain's latest penal colony had arrived under command of the First Fleeter, David Collins. Their number included the child, John Pascoe Fawkner, son of a convict but a future founder of Melbourne, and the convict, William Buckley, who soon escaped and lived with the aborigines until the arrival of the first permanent settlers in Port Phillip in 1835.

William Buckley's Great Escape

The Lieutenant Governor is concerned to learn that six men have been so blind to their own welfare as to absent themselves from the Settlement and proceed in the desperate undertaking of proceeding around to Port Jackson. If such is actually the motive of absenting themselves, they must be inevitably lost in the attempt, and nothing more will ever be heard of them. - General order, Sorrento (Vic), 10 November, 1803.

• William Buckley and five other convicts had bolted. The others soon gave up the venture, Buckley said years later, and tried to return to the settlement but were never heard of again. Buckley, a 23-year-old former soldier and hugely tall, made his way round to the other side of Port Phillip Bay, where he was befriended by the aborigines and given a wife. He was found in July, 1835, by a party of pioneers and employed as an interpreter.

Mixed menu of offal plus curate's egg at Port Phillip

It weighed, when skinned, the head off, liver, heart, and entrails, 68lbs; the skin of a dark-brown colour. - Diarist's note, Sorrento settlement, Victoria, 13 November, 1803.

• This is a description of the first kangaroo shot in the Port Phillip District.

I set my white hen on twenty-one egg this morning, but the experiment was not the success hoped, as the twenty-one egg only produced seven young chickings. - Diary of Rev. Robert Knopwood, chaplain to the settlement, Sorrento (Vic), 10 December, 1803.

• Knopwood's failure as a chicken farmer was soothed somewhat on Christmas Day when he baptised William James Hobart Thorne, son of a marine sergeant and the first white child born in Port Phillip. Coincidentally, the first white child born in NSW in 1788 was Thomas Whittle, son of a marine sergeant.

Meanwhile, hapless Flinders is jailed on Mauritius

I sought assistance and protection in your port, and I have found a prison! Judge for me as a man, Sir - judge for me as a British officer employed in a neutral occupation - judge for me as a zealous philanthropist, what I must feel at being thus treated. - Letter from Matthew Flinders, prisoner, to General De Caen, Governor of Mauritius, 21 December, 1803 .

• Flinders arrived in Mauritius aboard the Cumberland on 15 December, 1803. He was placed in confinement within days, largely on the pretext that his French-issued passport applied to the Investigator , and not the Cumberland . Later, his confinement was eased, but he was not released until June, 1810.

First (but not last) lashings in Port Phillip

... I discovered an improper spirit among some of my Military, who expressed a dissatisfaction at a daily Drill, which I had found it necessary to order. Having received sufficient Evidence of their discontent, and of a design to wait upon me in a Body to state What they deemed a grievance, I resolved instantly to check it before it could proceed to any such unwarrantable length, and caused two Privates (who I had reason to believe were most dissatisfied), to be confined, and brought them the following Day to a Court Martial by which they were sentenced to receive 900 lashes, when one received 700 and the other 500... - Letter from Lieut Governor David Collins, Port Phillip, to Lieut Governor Philip Gidley King, Sydney, 28 February, 1804.

• Collins landed at Sullivans Cove, near Sorrento, with 400 soldiers, settlers and convicts in October, 1803. He found the site unsatisfactory, largely through lack of water. King agreed that he could move to Hobart. However, there was dissatisfaction among the settlers, according to a letter to England in October, 1803. from an officer's wife (quoted in Life in Victoria , by William Kelly, 1858): My pen is not able to describe half the beauties of this delightful spot, where we have spent four months. Much to my mortification and loss, we are obliged to abandon the settlement though the whim and caprice of the lieut governor. Additional expense to the government, and loss to individuals will be incurred by removing to Van Diemens Land, which will never suit so well. Port Phillip is my favourite, and has my warmest wishes. During the time we have been here, I have never had one ache or plain; and I part from it with more regret than I felt when parting with my native land.

Let me kiss your bum, Rich Friend in High Place

The breed of that useful and noble animal, the Horse, has experienced in this colony, owing, as we understand, to the Munificence of his Grace, the Duke of Northumberland, from whom a stallion has been brought into this Colony by Major Johnston, about two years since, the Colts of which are of the most promising nature; and nothing can exemplify from strikingly the characteristic of a true Patriot than when his interests are the advancement of the interests on a Rising Colony, remote from the parent country, and where the dissemination of a breed of such excellent Cattle must be peculiarly valuable. Nor is this the only instance of His Grace's consideration and liberality: By the Calcutta, Major Johnston also received a Present from the same Noble Donor of a Ram and three Ewes of a superior breed, and likely to benefit this Colony essentially and to stand another Monument of British Munificence and Honour. - Press release, Sydney Gazette , 4 March, 1804.

• George Johnston, the Colony's top-ranking soldier, happened to benefit from the patronage of the mighty Percys, Dukes of Northumberland. Johnston's father was aide-de-camp to the first Duke, who arranged the son's commission in the Marines. Doubtless, the Percy influence came to bear when Johnston was cashiered after the Rum Rebellion, but dealt with great leniency by the British Government.

Whales, seals, ship's deserters ... and MONEY, MONEY

Deserted from His Majesty's Ship Calcutta, William Thomas Evans, Quarter-Gunner, aged twenty-eight years, brown Complexion, dark brown hair (tied), a Native of Caermarthen, in South Wales; and Joshua Glover Maude, Able Seaman, aged twenty years 5 feet 7 inches and a half high, yellow complexion, light brown hair (cropped), a Native of Monmeath, in South Wales.

Notice is hereby given to the public, particularly those who are employed in the Whale and Seal Fisheries, not to Employ, Secrete, or Encourage the aforementioned Deserters, on penalty of being Prosecuted against by the Solicitors for the Admiralty, according to Law. - Sydney Gazette , 4 March, 1804. (Evans was apprehended in Sydney on 28 March, twelve days after the Calcutta had sailed for England. Maude was captured on 30 April while attempting to leave Sydney by sea.).

• Evans and Maude, countrymen and skilled sailors, were probably the subject of corporate recruitment by an American whaling company. This American company would have been a keen rival of the global British company, Enderby's, whose London-based principal, Samuel Enderby, was a chum of Governor Philip Gidley King. Hence the following Proclamation in the Sydney Gazette , 27 May ...

Whereas it has been represented to me to me that the Commanders of some American Vessels have, without any Permission or Authority whatever, have not only greatly inconvenienced His Majesty' Subjects, in repairing to and continuing among the different island in and about Bass's Straits, for skins and oil, in hindrance of the coasting trade of this Territory and its Dependencies, have also, in violation of the Laws of Nations, and in contempt of the local Regulations of this Territory, proceeded to build vessels on the islands in the said straits., and in other places within the defined Limits of this, His Majesty's Territory of New South Wales and its dependencies ... I do PROHIBIT and FORBID ... (such activities) ...

• The Calcutta had recently arrived in Sydney, having carried the first convicts and settlers to Port Phillip, then Hobart. Her companion storeship on that mission, the Ocean , was also owned by Enderby's! In fact, it was Enderby's ships who were the victims of the Boston Tea Party in 1773.

Enterprising locals were in the game, too ...

WANTED. Ten or twelve able, active Men, to proceed to the Island's in Bass's Straits in the employ of Messrs Kable and Underwood upon liberal terms of engagement for any length of time that shall be agreed upon. Person unencumbered, that are at liberty and are desirous of availing themselves of the opportunity thus presented are requested to apply immediately to the above co-partners. N.B. A preference to seamen will be given. - Sydney Gazette , 23 December, 1804.

Just before the Proclamation discouraging Yankee whalers, this mysterious letter appeared in the 25 March issue of the (government-controlled) Gazette . It was allegedly an ' Extract of a Letter from the Master of a Vessel in Bass's Strait to his Employer in Sydney' ...

Being determined to do all the Execution in my power among the Seals, I consider it a duty to caution you against fitting out anew for this Employ during the present season, as I intend coursing the Straits throughout, and to pick up everything that chance may throw my way.

I have been given to understand that some defectors from Van Diemens Land are on shore at Penguin, where they have formed a design against someone or other of the craft from Port Jackson. I beg you will not be apprehensive for the safety of the vessel in my charge; for rest assured, the only benefit they may hope to derive from my falling in their way must proceed from their own conduct and compliance; but should they be inclined to act offensively, I shall regulate my own conduct accordingly. At all events, I wish you to caution every vessel to be aware of these people, whose desperate circumstances may p[possibly induce them to plunge in further extravagances.

• Whale oil and sealskins were Australia's big overseas export earner, far exceeding in value the puny little settlement in Sydney Cove! The whale oil kept the delicate mechanism of gentlemen's time pieces ticking, the whale bones made the ladies' corsets, and the seal fur made provided winter bonnets for the ruling classes. In 1804, one London estimate of the value of the whale product trade from eastern Australia was 120,000 pounds. In fact, Sydney's greatest importance by then was as a service port for whalers. The captain of Enderby's Britannia , sailing up the NSW coast with convicts in 1791, reported; When sailing up the coast within 3 leagues of the shore, I saw more whales around my ship than in the whole six years I have fished the coast of Brazil.

Irish uprising at Castle Hill!

... a Number of Labouring Convicts of Castle Hill and other Parts of this District, have assembled and in a Rebellious and daring manner have Attacked and Robbed several of His Majesty's Subjects of their Arms, and proceeded therewith to great Acts of Outrage, which the Preservation of Lives and Property of His Majesty's liege Subjects demand an immediate Stop being put by the most effectual means. - Proclamation, Sydney, 5 March, 1804.

• On 4 March, William Johnston, an Irish rebel convict, raised a force of 300 men and prevailed on free settlers to give up their arms. They assembled at Castle Hill, northwest of Sydney, intending to raise 300 more men in the Hawkesbury district and march on Sydney.

Rebels outwitted in hopeless, sad uprising

The principal Leaders of the deluded and infatuated People who have, through the arts and designs of some hidden Characters, been induced to commit Overt acts of Rebellion, forgetting thereby the real Comfort and real Liberty they enjoy, as connected with Industry and Quietness, being killed, apprehended or having given themselves up ... - W.N. Chapman, Secretary, Headquarters, Parramatta, 7 March, 1804.

• Governor King and Major George Johnston, of the NSW Corps, hastened from Sydney to Parramatta, where the rebels were said to be heading. Johnston and a solitary private met the rebels and captured some of the leaders under the pretence of a parley. Johnston's troops arrived and 'cut to pieces' the rebel force.

Hanged, without trial, at the Government storehouse

Philip Cunningham, the Principal Leader, was carried among the wounded to Hawkesbury, being still alive, and very properly considered by Major Johnston as a proper object to make an immediate example of, by virtue of the Martial Law that then existed, and the discretionary power given to him by his Excellency, and after taking the opinion of the Officers about him, directed him to be publicly executed on the Stair Case of the Public Store, which he had boasted in his march he was going to plunder. - Military report, Parramatta, 9 March, 1804.

• Eight more men, including William Johnston, were hanged, five flogged and thirty four sent to the coal mines at Newcastle.

Crisis over! Governor ends Martial Law

Whereas the imperious Cause that rendered it necessary to place the districts of Parramatta, Castle Hill, Tongue, Prospect and Seven and Baulk-ham Hills, Hawkesbury and Nepean under Martial Law on the 5th instant no longer exists; I do annul and revoke the Proclamation of the 5th Instant to the Effect, declaring the above districts, in common with the rest of the Territory, under the Jurisdiction of the Court of Judicature as heretofore established.

On this occasion, I feel it a duty to remind the deluded Objects of the artful designs of some unknown, but not unsuspected Miscreants, who now lament their diabolical schemes miscarrying, of the absurdity of their seditious designs when opposed to the steady Exertions of Persevering Loyalty, which has generally prevailed on the late Event.

Let the ignorant and unwary reflect on the dying words of one of their Leaders (Johnston) who asserted, that those engaged in the late tumultuous proceedings were the victims of a very few, who contrived and abetted in secret the Horrors which have deprived several of their Lives, by resisting the measures used to bring them to a Sense of the enormous Crimes they were about to perpetrate, whilst others have paid the tribute due to the Offended Laws and Violation of Personal Security, which must not, and shall not, be transgressed with Impunity.

The Superintendents and Overseers at the different Settlements are to deliver a List of the Prisoners at Public Labour in their respective Districts on Monday, the 19th Instant. At the same time the Settlers, and every other Person who has indentured or hired Servants, will report those who have absented themselves, and have not returned.

All Arms found, or taken from the Insurgents, are to the delivered up to the nearest Magistrate, Officer, or other Person in Command immediately, on pain of incurring the severest Penalties of the Law for secreting those Arms and Ammunition. - Proclamation from Governor Philip Gidley King, Government House, Parramatta, 10 March, 1804.

An 1804 Witness Protection Programme

Whereas there is most presumptive proof, from Dying Confessions of Johnston and Humes, together with the strongest circumstantial proof, and the information of some single Witnesses to signal Facts, implicating some person at Sydney and Parramatta of being the secret Contrivers and Abettors of the late Disturbance, any person or persons who may be sufficiently possessed of INFORMATION that will corroborate the above Confessions and Proofs of those who are suspected, will RECEIVE a FREE PARDON and PROTECTION until an opportunity may offer of sending them to Great Britain at the expense of the Crown. - General Order, Sydney, 11 March, 1804.

Be alert, not alarmed, say Govt's spin doctors

The extreme lenity shown by Government to the majority of deluded Offenders who lately revolted from their duty, while it reflects the highest honour to the humanity of His Excellency, as well as all of the Officers who co-operated in the prompt and necessary measures, must at the same time convince the evil-minded Machinator that his plots are regarded with contempt, and that they may for a moment in-convene, they are yet incapable of exciting apprehension, or of influencing the smallest anxiety for the General Society. - Sydney Gazette , 11 March, 1804.

• Such is the advantage of having a Government-controlled newspaper. Apparently, there was considerable anxiety among Sydney's population of 4000 or so. The uprising included many Irishmen transported for their part in the 1798 rebellion in Ireland but, typically, lacked organisation. Had the rebels succeeded, it may have taken years to dislodge them. Britain then had only a small garrison in Van Diemens Land.

Evil Frog spy becomes Aust's first multicultural deportee!

Francois Girault, a Frenchman, in obedience to His Excellency, the Governor's positive command, quitted the Colony in His Majesty's Ship Calcutta, having been charged on evidence strongly presumptive with secretly abetting and encouraging the late Revolt. This man resided at Parramatta, and had for several months past, devoted much of his time trafficking as a pedlar, during which intercourse he too probably obtained an undue influence among the people at that Settlement, and availing himself of an unhappy credulity, disseminated gradually the seeds of dissension and discontent, but ingeniously in the end found means to avoid open detection and to escape condign punishment. - Sydney Gazette , 18 March, 1804.

• Who was the mysterious M. Girault? And had he been planted in the colony as an agent provocateur by Nicholas Baudin when he visited Sydney in the Geographe in the winter of 1802? Or was he one of the sailors from the Geographe admitted to Sydney Hospital with scurvy and was left behind when the ship sailed? Ooh, la, la! All these questions must have exercised the mind of Governor King. Be alert, not alarmed!

Macarthur lobbies the Lords

Your Lordships' Memorialist is entirely convinced from the number of sheep that have been already bred in New South Wales, and from the improvement he has witnessed from the Quality of the Wool, that Millions of Sheep may be raised in that country. - John Macarthur, London, to the British Privy Council about 'Botany Bay' wool, 1804.

• Australia began exporting fine wool to Britain in 1807 and slowly overhauled its Spanish and German rivals. By 1850, it was the world's leading wool producer.

Hobart has good houses, but killer grass

Some good houses are erected at Hobart and potatoes and vegetables grow very well; the pasturage is extremely nourishing to sheep and Cattle, but several pigs have been lost owing, as it is supposed, to their having fed upon a species of grass of a poisonous quality. - Sydney Gazette , 18 March, 1804.

• Lieut Governor David Collins had arrived from the ill-founded settlement at Sorrento (Port Phillip) on 16 February and immediately moved the settlement from Risdon to the present site of Hobart. He had his own house built and hut accommodation organised for 400 people. But he continued to have difficulties with the marines, convicts and many of the free settlers who had accompanied him from England.

Newcastle named as a permanent settlement

Lieut. Charles Menzies is sworn in as a Magistrate for the above settlement and County, which is hereafter to be distinguished by the Name of Newcastle, in the County of Northumberland ... General Order, Sydney Gazette , 25 March, 1804.

• This was the founding of a permanent settlement at Newcastle, which had been abandoned as a convict station, known as Coal River, in 1801. Menzies was a Marines officer who was willingly seconded from the visiting warship, Calcutta .

Kissing Point etc ...

The wife of a settler at Kissing Point was on Friday morning safely delivered of twins, both of whom, thank God, are in a thriving way. The good woman is as well as possibly be hoped, and must doubtless be considered an inestimable treasure to her husband, whom she happily complimented with the exact same number scarcely eleven months before. - Social note, Sydney, 29 April, 1804.

A tragedy of disinformation on the gentle Derwent River

On 3 May, 1804, a grievous incident occurred at Risdon Cove, on the Derwent River, Van Diemens Land, site of the first, temporary British settlement (12 September, 1803) . A large group of aborigines approached the settlement of 49 whites: soldiers of the NSW Corps, free settlers and 21 convicts. The soldiers opened fire ... and kept up their musketry with the assistance of a small cannon for three hours. On 2 September, the Sydney Gazette reported one outcome ...

A native male infant, whose age is supposed to be from two to three years, was left by the parents at Risdon Cove, upon their retreat from hostile attempt made upon the borders of the settlement. The little captive was humanely received and cherished, and is at this time under the protection of a gentleman of the settlement at Sullivan's Cove. The little creature was very fond of the kangaroo flesh, but would at first only receive it after it had been scorched upon the cinders; it is now become more nice in the choice of food, and has consequently resigned a preference for the above mode of cookery: He is remarkably active and tractable, manages a stick, and even handles a spear with surprising agility, and does not appear in any degree susceptible of fear or apprehension; but on the contrary, opposes with firmness every imagined danger. Against the attack of a dog he not only defends himself with a stick, but in turn becomes the assailant. In compliment to his native soil and in remembrance of the month upon which it was the will of fate that he should be released from a state of barbarous insignificance, he has been baptised Robert Hobart May.

Later on the day of the alleged aboriginal attack, 3 May, Risdon Cove's surgeon, Jacob Mountgarrett, sent a message to the Rev Robert Knopwood, who was at the newer settlement of Hobart:

I beg to refer you to Mr Moore (apparently the bearer of the letter) for particulars of an attack the natives made on the camp today and I have every reason to think that it was premeditated, as their number far exceeded any that we have heard of. As you express a wish to be acquainted with some of the natives, if you dine with me tomorrow, you will oblige me by christening a fine native boy who I have. Unfortunately, poor boy, his father and mother were both killed. He is about two years old. I have likewise the body of a man that was killed. If My Bowden wishes to see him dissected, I will be happy to see him with you tomorrow. I would have wrote to him, but Mr Moore waits .

Robert Knopwood took up Mountgarrett's invitation on 11 May and went to Risdon Cove. His journal entry records:

At 11am Lt Lord and self went to Risdon with Capt Bowen. Mr Lord returned in the eve and I stayed there. I zxtiand (Christened) a young native boy whose name was Robert Hobart May.

(Robert Hobart, then Secretary for the Colonies in faraway London, also gave his name to a child christened by Knopwood at the Sorrento, Port Phillip Bay, settlement recently quitted in favour of Hobart, the town , by Lieut Governor David Collins. It is not clear if there was any dissection of aboriginal dead at Risdon Cove. However, this whole unsavoury episode will doubtless, be given a thorough whitewashing by Australia's 21st century revisionist historians).

When he learned of the affair, Lieut Governor David Collins mentioned it at some length in a letter to his superior (and old First Fleet mate) , Governor Philip Gidley King, in Sydney:

I well know that these undiscriminating savages will consider every white man as their enemy, and will if they have the opportunity, revenge the death of their companions upon those who had no share in the attack, but I shall make a point, if ever it is in my power, of doing away the evil impressions, which by this and a former affair, they may have received of our dispositions towards them. In the view of effecting something towards this desirable end, I have signified to Captain Bowen my directions that a native boy of about three years of age, who was taken in the late business, might be returned to any party of natives that might be seen in the neighbourhood of Risdon Cove. This child, who is with Mr Mountgarrett, has been baptized by our chaplain (without my knowledge or consent being asked) and I understand that gentleman intended to take him to England. As I cannot see any advantages which could arise from this step, and having understood from Governor Hunter that his Majesty had on the return of Bennelong from England expressed his desire that not another native should be brought home from New South Wales. I judged it expedient to direct that the child be returned to his own people, who might, if they never saw it again, imagine that we had destroyed it.

So, the enlightened men of the First Fleet (including John Hunter) were not only opposed to the stealing of aboriginal children (and adults), but their sovereign, George 111, was, too. The last record of the boy was in 1805 when he was inoculated. In 1830, a former convict, Edward White, referred to the events of 3 May, 1804, in evidence to a committee inquiring into aboriginal affairs. He remarked on the aborigines being 'slaughtered and wounded' and of a child being 'taken from them.'

Small businesswoman sadly missed at The Rocks

On Thursday departed this life at a very advanced age, Mary Jones, long resident of The Rocks, and one of the first European inhabitants of this Colony. The funeral was performed the day following with a splendour suited to her avocation during her latest years. From twelve to fifteen couples of spotless damsels, robed in white, followed in procession, and after depositing the venerable remains, returned to her late apartment where spiritual consolation was duly administered. - Report of the funeral of a brothel madam, Sydney, 3 June, 1804.

The Dobber's Guide to success in NSW

On Monday, 4 June, 1804, King George's birthday was celebrated in Sydney (along with every other outpost of Empire). The Government issued the following statement couched in the most Jane Austen-esque terms:

The liberal dispensation of the Royal Grace on the event, while it awakens grateful sensibility and inconceivable transport in the breasts of those whose exemplary conduct has recommended them to the gift of Mercy, ought no less inspire hope in others, who, by a zealous perseverance in laudable pursuits, and an emulation in industrious habits, may in turn regain those envied privileges of which by the laws of their country they have been deprived.

Among the number whom it has been His Excellency's pleasure to select as objects worthy to participate in the inestimable donation are all those whose behaviour during the Insurgency (of 4 March) appeared deserving of reward, and qualified the appeal to the discriminating bounty of a Government whose object is the rescue of the unfortunate, and with a fostering hand to cherish and mature the amiable desire of amendment - but a return to society must be ever contingent on the return of virtue.

• In other words, do as some of the others did, lag on your mates and you'll get an Absolute Pardon and, perhaps, a free Boat Trip Home.

Child's play in Sydney Town

The following horrible circumstance some days since occurred:- a boy being upbraided by an infant associate with the loss of an eye, impatiently snatched up a fire stick and, in a transport of passion, exclaiming, 'You shall have no more eyes to boast of than myself,' instantly put in force the execrable menace, and reduced the little unfortunate to the polyphemic order . - Sydney Gazette , 24 June, 1804.

Nocturnal Neddy nobbled (nicely)

On Thursday night last, a horse found ranging the streets contrary to General Orders, was taken up as a disorderly character and committed to the goal yard. - Sydney Gazette , 24 June, 1804.

Official warning of forthcoming bloodbath

It may verily be advanced, that no set of people in the known world were ever so totally destitute as these are of industry and ingenuity, or whose innate indolence rendered them inattentive to the very means of subsistence. - Sydney Gazette , 24 June, 1804.

• Aborigines had been plundering settlers' homes in the Hawkesbury of food and clothes. The above learned exposition was designed to justify the forthcoming activities of punitive parties.

Painter shakes off his shackles

Wanted to purchase. A box of water colours, for which a liberal price will be given. Any person having such to dispose of will be treated with by John Eyre, No 17, Back Row. - Advertisement, Sydney, 1 July, 1804.

• John Eyre, transported from England in 1801 for housebreaking, was given a conditional pardon in June, 1804. His views of the Sydney area still exist. He left the colony sometime after August, 1812.

Wages of sin

On Wednesday, Stafford Lett, a carpenter, fell from the roof of a building, and was severely bruised. - Sydney Gazette , 1 July, 1804.

Poor Stafford! When he picked himself up and dusted himself off, he was charged with purloining shingles from the roof, the property of the Government, and sentenced to the gaol gang.

Truth's no defence in libel

... I, the undersigned Mary Newton, was so imprudent, rash and indiscreet, as to utter some expressions highly injurious to, and tending to defame the character of Thomas Rowley Esq. ... do confess sorrow for my offence . - Printed apology, Sydney, 8 July, 1804.

• Mary, a convict who signed with her mark, probably called him a profiteering ex-Rum Corps rogue. Which he was. Rowley was not above consorting with felons, and had several children by an ex-convict, Elizabeth Selwyn.

Sentenced to death for stealing old clothes . ..

Whereas Robert Matthews, shipkeeper of the Investigator, has broke into the Gun Room of that Ship, and stolen a quantity of Slops (cheap clothes) that had been placed therein, some of which have been recovered ... - Warrant for Matthews' arrest, 5 August, 1804.

• Matthew Flinders' ship, the Investigator , was lying unseaworthy in Sydney Harbour. Matthews, the caretaker, was captured and sentenced to death.

... but reprieved at the edge of the abyss

The unhappy man, when commanded to descend from the (execution) cart, was convulsed with emotion; to meet death he seemed to be prepared with decent resignation, but so unhoped an extension of the Royal Mercy was more than he could endure. - Social note, Sydney, 26 August, 1804

• Robert Matthews, having faced death in a manly manner, was reprieved with the very noose around his neck.

'Dearest Ann, Oh, how I wish you were here ...'

On 26 August, 1804, Matthew Flinders wrote to his wife, Ann, in England from his comfortable house arrest on the Indian Ocean island of Mauritius ...

A second opportunity of writing to my dear friends now presents itself, the first occurred about five weeks since. I yesterday enjoyed a delicious piece of misery in reading over thy dear letters, my beloved Ann. Shall I tell thee that I have never before done it since I have been shut up in this prison ... It is a general and benumbing course of misery that I undergo in this imprisonment, but by dwelling upon thy most charming letters every little of thy tender anxiety and distress is is afresh called up in a vivid colouring to my maddened imagination. I am as it were shut up in a cask and that has been rolled with violence from the top of hope down into the vale of misfortune; I am bruised and well nigh stunned out of my senses; but canst thou imagine the addition it would be to this misery for the cask to have been driven full of spike nails; such is the increase of misery to my feelings on thinking intensely on thee. I have many friends who are kind and are much interested for me, and I certainly love them, but written by Flinders, yet before thee they vanish as stars before the rays of a morning sun. I cannot connect the idea of happiness with anything but thee: without thee the world would be a blank. I might indeed receive some gratification from distinction and the applause of society, but where would be the faithful friend who would enjoy and share this with me, and into whose bosom my full heart could unburthen itself of its excess of joy. Where would be that sweet intercourse of soul, that fine seasoning to happiness, without which a degree of insipidity attends all our enjoyments? From thee, my beloved, and thee alone it is that I look to receive this zest for life, this height of luxury. Thou hast given me distressing accounts of thy eyes, and the state of thy health, I fear to think it possible that attacks upon these should have returned since thy letter of September, 1802 was written from Boston (England); but the cold weather is terrible for thee. Oh that thou wast here in this genial climate. It is not now too warm, and even in a prison we would be happy if together. This is a large house in which eight English officers now live. We have our separate apartments and servants, and a garden of about two acres in which we walk as we are disposed. A wall surrounds the garden and house, and the gate is kept by a sentinel to prevent us from going beyond it. Our allowance from the French government is sufficient to furnish a tolerable table; and indeed as prisoners, we have little to complain of except that we are not permitted to live at large upon our parole, or to partake of any amusements beyond our limit garden wall ... Oh, how earnestly I have desired to have thee with me; I should hardly call myself unfortunate had I thy fond society. Couldst thou my dearest be satisfied to be here? I think indeed thou wouldst, for a time; neither wouldst thou be without female society. There were four ladies taken prisoners; two have been permitted to go with their husbands to India, and the others are living at a house about 4 miles in the country; they have met with handsome treatment upon the whole, their husbands being indulged with a country house on their account, instead of being shut up in this house which is the common place of confinement for other officers. I am not without friends even amongst the French, on the contrary, I have several, and but one enemy; unfortunately the last is all-powerful here, nor will he, on any persuasion, permit me to pass the walls of the garden, although some others who are accounted less dangerous have had the indulgence occasionally. Had I indeed every indulgence that could be given, still it would not do away the injustice in detaining me contrary to the express orders of the French government as contained in my passport; but the unnecessary hardship and indignity with which I was sometime treated, certainly adds to the injury. Did the governor know from whom he keeps me, and what ecstatic happiness awaits my return, the least spark of humanity would be sufficient to make him hasten instead of retard my departure; but this man knows no humanity for Englishmen. I look forward indeed with hope, that the French government will order my immediate release, and also that this order will arrive by or before December. In that case I shall arrive be in England about April or May. The moment of landing I shall write to thee to meet me in London; or if thou hast any visit to pay in London about that time, perhaps thou wilt be there in May. It would indeed be delightful to meet thee there; and the moment I arrive I shall fly to Mr Bonner in Fleet Street for information. Heaven grant that no sickness, no misfortune may prevent thee from meeting me and being pressed to my enraptured heart. Indeed my Ann thou knowest not how very dear thou art to me. Thy joys, thy pleasures or pains, are also mine. There is between us that sympathy which subsists between the different limbs of one body; miserably torn asunder we have indeed been, but we will re-unite, never more, perhaps, to be separated; and our second marriage shall be more delightful than the first. Heaven grant that neither ambition or necessity may ever again divide us by the intervention of a trackless sea. I think my dearest love, it would be useful to thy health to ride on horseback in the fine weather; thy strength suffers from want of exercise. Do not let a little expense prevent thee from any gratification of this sort. Buy a little horse, my love, and take the air as often as thou canst, I am sure it will do thee good. We will so enjoy ourselves when I can get a few months in the country. We will make a tour amongst all thy friends and relations and mine, and for a little while no expense shall stand in our way. Adieu, my best beloved for a time. To thy good mother and Belle remember me most kindly; I am a letter indebted to the former but cannot now pay it. As for that idle thing, Belle, does she think I will bring her any pretty feathers and or little fishes when she has not written me one line these live-long three years last past? No, indeed, not a rusty nail! Now I dare say she would like a speckled piece of the coral reef upon which we were shipwrecked? Or a green octagon pebble from the top of the cloudy mountain? Or a stump shell brought up from the bottom of the sea 200 fathoms deep, by the lead? or a little sea horse cased with horn, as big as my thumb and taken out of the maw of a shark? Or perhaps a set of Trim's finger nails which he shed in the Gulf of Carpentaria? But not the least tiny bit will fall to her lot. I have some cockles shells that weigh a hundred pounds apiece, very convenient for washhand basins, and many other wonders too tedious to mention: I shall see when I come home; perhaps she may get one of them; no, I will give her a cage full of jumping spiders as nimble as fleas and as big as small frogs: Won't they be a curiousity? everyone has nine eyes and a little tail: and indeed they are thought by all who have seen them to be mighty curious. Health, my dearest love, most anxiously do I wish thee. This is now a fine season in England; May thou be now happy in the enjoyment of it. Thy most affectionate Matthew Flinders.

• Ann was living in Lincolnshire with her mother and stepfather. 'Belle' was her sister and Trim was Flinders' cat.

Unruly lady convicts might get 'change of air'

Last week two women were lodged in confinement as disorderly characters; one of whom charged before a Magistrate with insolence to a constable in the execution of his duty. The ladies were upon this occasion severely reprimanded, and a change of conduct recommended as the only preventative to a change of air. - Sydney Gazette , 2 September, 1804.

• The alternative, as George Howe, editor of the newspaper, hinted was a sojourn in Newcastle which, those days, really was the pits.

Reasonable conclusion, prettily expressed

On Wednesday last a labouring man who was employed in falling on Livingston's Hill, near , was unfortunately killed by a tree which fell in a direction probably contrary to the poor man's expectations. - Sydney Gazette , 2 September, 1804.

1804: a dry winter for Sydney's gardeners

Sydney Wharf: - Yesterday morning, the usual boats from Kissing Point made their appearance, with the accustomed supplies. Vegetables were scanty and dear owing to the dryness of the season. Good potatoes sold at 6s. to 8s. per 100lbs. throughout the day; poultry but thinly supplied, and little deviation in the prices. - Sydney Gazette , 2 September, 1804.

• Kissing Point, so named because Governor John Hunter was allegedly kissed by a girl he carried ashore there, is now suburban Ryde. Early market gardens were established there.

Pig eats baby at The Rocks, shot and burned

Some moments after, to her utter astonishment and horror, she accidentally approached the bed and there witnessed a spectacle, the horrors of which are not to be conceived. The pig had by some means mounted the bed, and was then in the very act of devouring the child. - Sydney Gazette , 23 September, 1804.

• This unseemly event occurred at The Rocks. The pig was shot and burned by order of the Coroner. Consequently, some people abandoned the practice of keeping pigs in the nursery.

Widower weds beautiful convict's teen daughter! Yuk!

... the dead body of Mrs Mary Nichols, wife of Mr Isaac Nichols, was perceived floating on the water near Goat Island, and picked up by two labourers employed in grass cutting . - Sydney Gazette , 28 October, 1804.

• A coroner found Mary Nichols had died accidentally 'by insanity'. Nichols was a prosperous emancipist, much favoured by the colonial leaders. In February next year he married Rosanna Abrahams, the seventeen-year-old daughter of the First Fleet convict, Esther Abrahams, the then de facto wife of Major George Johnston, who had played a leading role in suppressing the Castle Hill uprising.

Builder's grand funeral ... then his creditors strike

We whose Names are hereunto subscribed Sureties for Sarah Bellamy for her due administration of the effects of Mr James Bloodworth ... do hereby caution the public not to purchase such Effects from the said Sarah Bellamy ... Public notice, Sydney, 28 October, 1804.

• James Bloodsworth (Bloodworth), a First Fleet convict who had become Sydney's leading builder, died on 21 March and was given the equivalent of a State funeral. Unfortunately, he died insolvent. Here, his creditors warned against buying any of his possessions from his widow, Sarah Bellamy, also a First Fleet convict and mother of his seven children.

Alert and armed, but it's a false alarm

At daylight yesterday morning, two ships appeared in sight; and from their frequent evolutions, were conjectured to be part of the enemy's squadrons that had condescended to favour us with a complimentary visit. - Shipping news, Sydney, 25 November, 1804.

• Britain was at war with France and Holland and there was constant speculation that the distant colony, population 4000, might be attacked by the enemy. Sydney called the NSW Corps to arms and prepared for battle. But the mysterious ships proved to be an English whaler, the Policy , and her Dutch prize, the Swift , captured off Batavia ( Indonesia ).

Aboriginal boy, raised by convicts, dies

' ... a native youth died at Sydney, of a dysentery, who was the first of the savage inhabitants of this colony introduced to civil society. - Sydney Gazette , 2 December, 1804.

• The boy was said to be found as an infant after his parents were killed during a raid on the convict settlement at Toongabbie and raised by convicts.

A convict dream: Paradise just over the ridge

In the course of Thursday evening and Friday morning, a report was generally current that several persons accustomed to the woods had by accident fallen in with an imaginary settlement, the extravagant pursuit of which has presented an untimely grave to many. - Sydney Gazette , 9 December, 1804.

• Governor King blamed the rumour on a 'mean and contemptible offender' named John Houlding, who had escaped from Sydney. Several convicts attempted to cross the Blue Mountains in search of this paradise; some were found, starving, in the bush and others are thought to have died.

NSW hears news of imprisoned Matthew Flinders

Captain Flinders, having no reason to suppose hostilities had recommenced and confiding in the efficacy of the passport he possessed, put into the Isle of France (Mauritius), where he arrived on 16th December last. - Sydney Gazette , 7 April, 1805.

• This was the colony's first news that Matthew Flinders had been taken prisoner by the French on his return voyage to England. The letters were brought by the brig, Eagle . Flinders was not permitted to continue his journey home until 1810.

By a Calcutta paper, it appears that Mr Charrington, who was boatswain of the Investigator, who was in the Cumberland with Captain Flinders, had made his escape from the Isle of France, and was in India. - Sydney Gazette, 7 April, 1805.

What do you about a naughty girl?

One of the fair offenders who was lately permitted to return from King's-town (Newcastle ) in consideration of her amended conduct, is again unhappily under sailing orders, for gross abuse to the police in execution of their duty. - Social note, Sydney, 14 April, 1805.

Tasmanian tiger observed (and shot)

The form of the animal is that of a hyena, at the same time strongly reminding the observer of the appearance of a low wolf dog. - Report to Sydney from Lieut Colonel William Paterson, Port Dalrymple, Van Diemens Land, 21 April, 1805.

• The settlers at Port Dalrymple (at the mouth of the Tamar River, northern Tasmania) gave the world the first description of a Tasmanian tiger. They shot it, beginning its gradual decline into probable extinction.

Investigator London-bound, without Flinders

On Thursday sailed for England His Majesty's ship, Investigator, under the command of Captain Kent ... - Sydney Gazette , 23 May, 1805.

• The Investigator lay in Sydney Harbour after the end of Matthew Flinders' circumnavigation on 9 June, 1803. She was made seaworthy, completed a voyage to Norfolk Island, then William Kent took her safely to England.

Macarthur: home in triumph

I have only time to tell you that I arrived safe and well on the 7th. You will imagine I am all bustle and confusion. I must however tell you that everything is settled to my satisfaction and that I entertain hopes of universal peace once more resuming her reign in this heretofore unhappy place. - John Macarthur, Sydney, to Captain John Piper, Norfolk Island, 10 June, 1805

• Macarthur returned in triumph to the colony, free of the court martial, no longer an army officer, part owner of the vessel, Argo , and carrying instructions to be granted 5000 acres of the Cowpastures, which he named Camden, after his benefactor, Lord Camden .

But his eyes are ideal for a lawyer

A Surgeon is a very improper profession for Him as from the Cast in the Eye it leads Him differently to the object he intends. - Mrs Charles Cookney writing from England to D'Arcy Wentworth. 1805.

• The subject of Mrs Cookney's concern was D'Arcy's son, William Charles, then aged 15, who had been sent to England to be educated. He became a lawyer and one of the most famous Australians of the 19th century.

First Head of the Harbour rowing race

Yesterday morning, two whaleboats started from Bennelong's Point, on a race around Shark's Island, at the entrance to the Harbour; one belonging to the Brothers, the other the Honduras packet; at about a quarter past 9 they took to their oars, and about 20 minutes past 10 the Brothers' regained their ship, leaving their antagonists a short distance behind. - Sporting note , Sydney 4 August, 1805.

And so began competitive rowing in Australia.

Flinders' house arrest with comely Frenchwoman etc etc

His Excellency the Captain-General De Caen having given me permission to reside at Wilhelms Plains, at the habitation of Madame D'Arifat, I do hereby promise, upon my parole of honour, not to go more than the distance of two leagues from the said habitation, without His Excellency's permission; and to conduct myself with that proper degree of reserve, becoming an officer residing in a country with which his nation is at war. I will also answer for the proper conduct of my two servants. - Letter from Matthew Flinders to General De Caen, Mauritius, 23 August, 1805.

Flinders had been living in relative comfort at the Garden Prison before getting permission, through a French friend, to reside in the hinterland with Madame Arifat and her three daughters. Flinders adhered strictly to the terms of his parole while secretly hoping that Mauritius would be attacked by the British.

1805: Battle of Trafalgar, 21 October, in which a French-Spanish fleet is soundly beaten by Admiral Horatio Nelson, assures Britain of a century of naval supremacy.

Mr Craft seeks pardon from his unrequited love

I hereby publicly declare that my affection towards Mrs Baker, the wife of William Baker, Settler, is false, groundless and malicious; and without any foundation whatsoever. - for which I ask her Pardon. - Joseph Craft, Sydney Gazette , 3 November, 1805.

• For the romantically-minded, Craft and Baker were emancipist farmers in the Richmond district, west of Sydney. Craft agreed not to stray off his own land and, happily, it is supposed, eventually raised a family of currency lads of lasses of his own by a forgiving woman other than Mrs Baker.

Rum doings ... declaration of Protestant loyalty

... the memorable event (Guy Fawkes Night) was celebrated by a mob of juvenile patriots; who exhibited the devoted effigy throughout every street and avenue, and in the evening escorted him to a field behind Back Row East, when he received the reward to which the remembrance of his execrable crimes entitled him. - Sydney Gazette , 10 November, 1805.

• The newspaper, loyally devoted to the Protestant cause, was annoyed that the money collected by the urchins was spent on rum, causing them to become obviously inebriated at the end of the day.

Pity the poor whipper

(The prisoner) found Guilty of stealing to the value of 39 shillings, was sentenced, being a prisoner for life, to receive One thousand lashes, and work Three Years in Irons. - Court report, Sydney, 1 December, 1805.

1806: Death of British Prime Minister William Pitt, 23 January.

Bulging bullock sparks journo's record sentence

A valuable working bullock was on Thursday last killed at the Salt Pans by the bite of a snake. The account we receive of the accident states that the creature, immediately as is supposed on receiving the bite began to swell, and continued to do so until it became of a most incredible size, discharging from the stomach most incredible quantities of matter, and to all external appearance suffering extreme pain from violent internal convulsed exertion, in which state it lived upwards of an hour.' - Sydney Gazette, 9 March, 1806.

• The snake's length was equalled only the second sentence in the Gazette's report.

Forgotten victim of the Rum Corps' corruption

Joseph Smallsalts, a prisoner for life, was on Tuesday last brought before the Judge Advocate, charged with having uttered expressions of an inflammatory and seditious tendency, highly disrespectful of His Majesty's Government, and with intention to disturb the tranquillity of the Colony . - Court report, 30 March, 1806.

• Smallsalts was given 100 lashes and sentenced to the coal mines at Newcastle for saying nasty things about the Rum Corps dictatorship. He was a convict who had been given some preferential treatment by the government, having been allowed to farm his small acreage on the Hawkesbury. He was marched away with a placard on his back which declared he 'would be worse than Tom Paine, if thwarted', a statement he made to accompany his seditious remarks. Thomas Paine was an English-American republican writer ( Rights of Man ) who had been accused of treason in England in the 1790s.

But Governor King (good man) intervenes (late)

His Excellency has been pleased to remit the order for removing Joseph Smallsalts to Newcastle, in consideration of his industry as a settler, and general good conduct prior to the accusation brought against him ... he is therefore permitted a renewal of the indulgences he before enjoyed; and it is hoped that this liberality will impress him with such sentiments as will hereafter operate as a curb to volatility in the moments of intemperance. - General notice, Sydney, 13 April, 1806.

• Unfortunately, Governor King did not hear of Smallsalts' sentence before he was given a jolly good thrashing.

Britannia Rules, okay? In sickness and health

The Dutch army, having retreated into the interior, our forces marched towards the town. On the 9th (of January, 1806) a Flag of Truce was sent, offering to capitulate ... - Dispatch to Governor Philip Gidley King, Sydney, 20 April, 1806.

• This was the announcement of the capitulation to British troops of the Cape of Good Hope, an important stop for ships making for Sydney.

The William Pitt brought 117 female prisoners, three having died on the passage; as did also three children, one of whom died of the small pox; that infection having prevailed with so much malignity for the considerable space of two months - Shipping news , 20 April, 1806.

• The William Pitt was the only convict transport to take part in an armed assault. Her longboats helped ferry the British troops ashore at the Cape of Good Hope in January. She also brought with her the free settlers, Gregory Blaxland and his wife, Elizabeth.

Mary Reibey, unforgiven childhood thief

R. Ad. Haddock, Mary C. Legit. chn. 3m 2f (married in NSW), Housekeeper . - Muster of the Inhabitants, Sydney, 1806.

• Bureaucracy at its most unforgiving. This is the Muster entry for Mary Reibey, the woman on the present $20 note, then aged 29, transported on the Royal Admiral in 1792, married since 1794 to the wealthy businessman, Thomas Reibey, and mother of five children.

Bligh and King: warm welcome and fond farewell

The Officers, Civil and Military, with the Free Inhabitants of the Colony, beg leave respectfully to offer their sincere Congratulations to your Excellency, upon your appointment to this Government, and express their happiness at your safe arrival. - Address to Governor William Bligh, Sydney, 13 August, 1806.

• Bligh arrived in Sydney and exchanged pleasantries. The address, pledging loyalty was signed by Major George Johnston, Deputy Advocate General Richard Atkins and John Macarthur. Soon, Macarthur and Johnston would be his implacable foes. Atkins was usually too inebriated to care .

I have met you with great affection, and shall watch over your cares and interests to the utmost of my power, to render Society a blessing, and the Colony flourishing. - Governor William Bligh's reply to the Loyal Address, Sydney, 13 August, 1806.

Accept, Gentlemen, my sincere thanks for the personal attentions I have received from you, by the handsome manner in which you have presented a testimonial; I shall always esteem and hold dear ... - Outgoing Governor Philip Gidley King's reply to his farewell testimonial, signed by Johnston, Macarthur and Atkins, Sydney 13 August, 1806..

• King probably admired Johnston, a fellow First Fleeter. He certainly detested Macarthur and thought Atkins a fool who was known to have pronounced death sentences while intoxicated.

His Excellency is pleased to appoint Lieutenant Putland, of the Royal Navy, to be his Aide de Camp, and a Magistrate throughout the Territory and its Dependencies. - General Order, Sydney, 13 August, 1806.

• Let the nepotism begin. John Putland was married to Bligh's daughter, Mary. He died on 4 January, 1808, leaving the manipulative Mary clear to pursue another husband.

Crikey! Talk about bad luck!

... a servant of James Dunn, being employed in falling timber close to his master's house, a tree of immense size fell upon it, and renting it asunder, killing two fine children as they lay in bed, besides maiming the mother ... - Sydney Gazette , 14 September, 1806.

• Dunn was annoyed at the destruction of his family and his house. He had the convict tree feller, Richard Morgan, brought before a magistrate. Morgan was sentenced to 500 lashes and ordered to labour at another settlement. Dunn may never have forgiven him, but the Government did. In 1828, he was living happily with his emancipist wife on his farm at Botany and probably telling his grandchildren lies about the marks on his back.

A reward of Ten Guineas will thankfully be paid by me, John Howarth, of Hawkesbury, Settler, to any person rendering verbally or by letter a just information relative to my wife, Elizabeth Howarth, who has for some time past, absented her family, from the improper persuasion, it is supposed, of some evil-minded person. - Advertisement, Sydney, 2 November, 1806.

• Howarth promised not to reproach her if she returned. Elizabeth, sadly, was dead ( see 2 November, 1811 ).

Order of precedence

Yesterday, two fine working oxen were put on the Resource for King's-town (Newcastle); a draught of male and female prisoners also expected by that vessel. - Sydney Gazette , 9 November, 1806.

Ned Kelly's desperate predecessors

... William Page and Abraham Smith were executed pursuant to their sentence; as were also James and Stephen Halfpenny on Wednesday. - Execution notice, Sydney, 21 December, 1806.

• The expression 'bushrangers' was coined by the authorities to describe these men. Page, in particular, escaped from custody several times during 1806 to continue his depredations, once after receiving 1000 lashes. It seems that desperation drove them to their fate.

Exclusive Outing reported by media sycophant

... a select party of Ladies and Gentlemen, twenty-one in number, exclusive of attendants, made an aquatic excursion from to Captain Macarthur's estate in Cockle Bay (Darling Harbour), being highly favoured by the uninterrupted serenity of a salubrious atmosphere; and after examining with inexpressible satisfaction the picturesque beauties which that romantic scene afforded, a handsome collation ushered in the evening's festivity, beneath the shelter of a spreading fig tree, whose wavering foliage whispered to refreshing breezes. To this enviable retirement one of the fair visitors was pleased to give the appellation le Repos d l'Amitie. - the estate receiving at the same time the name of Pyrmount, from its pure and uncontaminated spring, joined to the native beauties of the place; of which the company took leave at five, much gratified by the rational festivities of the day. - Social note, Sydney, 21 December, 1806.

• And so, at this gathering of Pure Merino society, was the inner-city suburb of Pyrmont given its name.

Lesser social events

On Sunday last William Donovan was unfortunately drowned in the Cove, in diving after an iron pot lost from one of the vessels, for which piece of service he was to have received 5s. - Sydney Gazette , 28 December, 1806.

• Poor Donovan's body was recovered. Alas, the pot was not.

Pursuant to his sentence the culprit was executed yesterday; and the body, having remained the usual time suspended, was sent to to be hung in chains . - Sydney Gazette, 18 January, 1807.

• John Kenny received the full measure of justice for the murder of a fellow convict, Mary Smith whom he sent 'with all her crimes upon her head before the Supreme Tribunal'.

Wanted. Several Apprentices whose treatment will be liberal. Apply to Mr (Gregory) Blaxland, . - Advertisement, Sydney, 25 January, 1807.

Rum Corps' chums begin anti-Bligh propaganda

Our new Governor, Bligh, is a Cornishman by birth, Mrs Putland, who accompanied him is a very accomplished person. The Governor has already shown the inhabitants of Sydney that he is violent, rash, tyrannical. No very pleasing prospect at the beginning of his reign. - Letter to England from Elizabeth Macarthur, Sydney, 29 January, 1807.

• Elizabeth Macarthur passed on the thoughts of her husband, John, to the gossips of England. Mrs Putland was Bligh's daughter, Mary, who was married to Lieut John Putland

Another Irish 'plot' foiled, a suspect media told

We are happy to announce to the Public that by extreme vigilance a most atrocious and wicked plan of Insurrection has been averted. It was planned in the most secret manner by some designing Irish prisoners who had artfully instilled in the minds of their Countrymen a certainty of taking the Country, and obtaining their liberty. - Government notice, Sydney, 22 February, 1807.

• The official version was that the 'rising of the Croppies' was to take place after the warship, Buffalo , carrying former Governor King, had left port. The Irish were to have murdered Governor Bligh on his way to the Hawkesbury, surprised the NSW Corps, killed the leading gentleman of the colony, and seized Bligh's ship, Porpoise , in Sydney Harbour. There was then to be a general massacre. There was continuing unrest in the Irish convict community after the unsuccessful 1804 uprising at Castle Hill, but this rebellion might have been nervous imagination.

And the Magistrates are hereby directed to enrol the names of all such of His Majesty's subjects as are ready and willing to defend the country against War and Tumult, and administer to them the Oath of Allegiance, as is customary on such occasions. - General order, Sydney, 1 March, 1807.

• Six hundred of the Hawkesbury district's free settlers had already signed a Loyal Address to Bligh. Talk of tumultuous uprising faded away.

1807: Britain becomes diplomatically isolated in Europe as Napoleon's landholdings reach their zenith ... but Britain's naval blockade was taking effect.

Slowly, the colony becomes self-sufficient

The crop of maize throughout the whole settlement, we rejoice in mentioning, is one of the most luxuriant and abundant ever known. - Sydney Gazette , 22 March, 1807.

'The ears have it!': Bligh interferes with judiciary

Yesterday morning, Thomas Jones (convicted of perjury) was placed in the pillory, which was erected near the parade, pursuant to his sentence; His Excellency having been pleased to remit the part requiring the ears of the delinquent to be nailed thereto. - Sydney Gazette , 5 April, 1807.

• The judge, Richard Atkins, had a rare sense of humour, particularly when he was drunk, but some of his sentences did not accord with Governor Bligh's idea of good taste.

No forgiveness in old Sydney Town

Rosetta White, for stealing out of a dwelling house to the amount of 6d received sentence of transportation for seven years . - Court report, Sydney, 5 April, 1807.

• Rosetta, already a convict, stole clothes from a house at The Rocks. Her sentence was secondary transportation, meaning she could be sent anywhere, from the Female Factory, in Parramatta, to Van Diemens Land.

Informers are pardoned ... victims get 1000 lashes

. .. all those calamities would have taken place but for two men, Dominick McCurry and William Grady, who, shuddering at such atrocious act, did give information whereby the offenders were apprehended and the misery prevented ... His Excellency does grant to each of them a Free Pardon. - General Order, Sydney, 7 June, 1807.

• The two men informed on the conspirators in the recent plot by Irish convicts to seize the colony. But where, oh where, would they now hide from the wrath of their brethren? However, they remained untouched and lived out their lives in the district where they did their informing. Two of the plotters were found guilty and sentenced to 1000 lashes; another six were acquitted.

Convict dog owners brought to heel

It is hereby ordered that every Dog of every description be immediately destroyed, except those of Officers and Respectable Housekeepers. - General Order, Sydney, 7 June, 1807.

• Governor Bligh reacted with modest severity to reports that domestic dogs were worrying and killing sheep from the Government flock. The order, of course, referred only to convicts' dogs.

His love waits ... and waits ... and waits

A French gentleman who has been intimate with Capt Flinders at the Isle of France (Mauritius) ... where he is visited and cherished by all the lovers of science, and by the respectable inhabitants of the island; and where he might be happy, if the regret of remaining so long useless to his country and the world did not continually prey upon his mind. - Sydney Gazette , 26 June, 1807.

• Flinders would have pined, too, for his young wife, Ann, whom he had married in Norfolk (UK) in 1801 one hopes, despite the attentions of Mme and her daughters. He would not see Ann again until 1810.

Amazing recall of the Times Table!

He spoke several times after with much precision; then rapidly recited the greater part of the multiplication table; and at the expiration of four hours expired. - Sydney Gazette , 19 July, 1807.

• Henry Abbott, a convict, was dreadfully injured when, intending to shoot a crow, his musket backfired, the breech lodging in his brain. When the offending piece was removed, he quickly proved his mental faculties were sound but, alas, that was not quite enough to qualify him for survival in NSW.

But there was something in the air ...

I can give you every assurance of the Colony's now raising its head to my highest expectations ... the discontented are checked in their machinations ... - Governor William Bligh, Sydney, to Sir Joseph Banks, London, 10 October, 1807.

• Bligh cannot have been reading John Blaxland's mail. The rebellion was only three months away.

The Governor is behaving so very arbitrary that I do not consider either my person or property safe a single hour; indeed, I think it will not be long before I am sent to gaol ... He openly laughs at the laws of England, and has been heard to say, 'What does he care for them. he shall make laws for N. S. Wales which every son of a bitch will have to obey'. - Letter from pastoralist John Blaxland, Sydney, 16 October, 1807.

• The 'Pure Merinos' of New South Wales, who had control of the army, were in a state of constant agitation, or so they claimed. And their use of 'spin' would be regarded with approval by some politicians of the 21st century.

'Oh tempora! Oh mores! Is there

no CHRISTIAN in New South Wales to put

a stop to the tyranny of Governor Bligh? - Circular distributed in Sydney, October, 1807.

By far the greater part of the Prisoners retain, after their servitude, the same characters as by their vicious habits they have maintained in their career of life, notwithstanding rewards and blessings offered to them if they do well. - Governor William Bligh, Sydney, to William Windham, Secretary for Colonies, London, 31 October, 1807.

• Bligh was philosophising, probably inaccurately, about prisoner reform while the storm clouds gathered about him. The blessedness of his ignorance is indicated in the next entry ...

This sink of iniquity, Sydney, is improving in its manners and concerns. Government is securing a substantive dignity and producing in consequence good effects on the whole. - Governor William Bligh, Sydney, to Sir Joseph Banks, London, 5 November, 1807.

• Oh, dear, couldn't he see what was coming? He was very angry with the Blaxland brothers for offering him, on the quiet, an interest in a rum distillery they were planning!

How the Rum Corps operated its monopoly

Evidence by Maurice Margarot to a Parliamentary Select Committee on Transportation, London, 1812:

Q: Do the majority of the officers to whom the Government of the Colony is entrusted embark in trade? A: All, to a man.

Q: What is that trade? A: It consists first of all of monopoly, then of extortion; it includes all the necessaries of life which are brought to the Colony.

Q: Are not the convicts supplied from a Government store? A: They are so.

Q: Then if the convicts are so supplied, how can the officers make a profit of that which belongs to the Government?

A: The distribution of stores is very partial; they are allowed from the stores two suits of clothes per annum; they are allowed weekly four pounds of pork, or six or seven pounds of beef; in short, their animal food is scarcely sufficient to keep them alive. Some convicts have been known to eat it before the Wednesday night, and to labour without food till the next Saturday when the ration is distributed. The clothing is not regularly served; it is regularly advertised in the Newspaper, but not regularly distributed to the prisoners. The Newspapers come home, and the prisoners cannot make their voice be heard here. The trade the officers are engaged in is first the supply of stores, with wheat and pork, sometimes beef and mutton, to the exclusion of the settlers; next, vessels arrives from all parts of Europe, and from India, with such articles as may be deemed luxuries; tea, sugar, rum, wine, little matters for clothing, silk handkerchief etc., a variety of articles, the officers purchase them; and retail them at perhaps 500 per cent profit. There is likewise another monopoly; the government has been very kind to the Colony, and sent out various articles for the use of the settlers and prisoners such as sieves, hats, clothes, linen, coarse cloth and a thousand other articles; when a ship of that kind has arrived, and the goods have been landed in the King's Stores, after a few days the stores are opened to the officers, who go in, lay their hands upon everything of value, and have their names affixed to it as purchasers; and they leave nothing but the refuse for the Colony; having done so by themselves or their agents, they retail that, as I have said before, at 500 per cent profit. I believe I am not out when I say that a sieve to sift meal, which cost them five shillings and ninepence has been sold for three guineas and rum I have known sold at eight pounds a gallon that cost seven shillings and sixpence. - Scottish Martyr Maurice Margarot, London, 1812.

• Margarot (1745-1815), an educated man who spent the years 1794-1810 in the Australian colonies for seditious remarks (and bloody-mindedness) gave evidence to a Parliamentary Select Committee convened after the dissolution of the Rum Corps dictatorship in NSW. While in Sydney, he had a fair measure of freedom and informed on the Rum Corps' activities to Governor Philip Gidley King. His evidence of the officers misdoings was corroborated.

Macarthur's coup! He becomes Dictator of NSW

The present alarming state of this Colony, in which every man's property, liberty and life is endangered, induces us to implore you instantly to place Governor Bligh under arrest and assume the command of the Colony. We pledge ourselves, at a moment of less agitation, to come forward and support the measure with our fortune and our lives. - Petition to Major George Johnston, Commandant of the NSW Corps, Sydney, 26 January, 1808.

• Fletcher Christian had arrived, in the form of John Macarthur, the first signatory to the petition. Macarthur had been in gaol in connection with his mercantile activities. Johnston released him and Bligh was overthrown and placed under house arrest. Eventually, he was released by Colonel Joseph Foveaux, who was returning from Norfolk Island. Foveaux did not reinstate Bligh, but administered the colony until William Paterson came from Van Diemens Land in January, 1809, and became acting governor.

Sir, I am called upon to execute a most painful duty. You are charged by the respectable inhabitants of crimes that render you unfit to exercise the supreme authority another moment in this colony; and in that charge, all the officers under my command have joined. I therefore require you, in His Majesty's sacred name, to resign your authority and to submit to the arrest which I hereby place you under, by advice of all my officers, and by the advice of every inhabitant in the town of Sydney. - Letter from Major George Johnston, Commandant of the NSW Corps to Governor William Bligh, Sydney, 26 January, 1808.

• These 'crimes' were not solely concerned with Bligh's efforts to suppress the rum trade. Many citizens claim to have become alarmed at Bligh's activities in interfering with their free trade in houses and land. John Macarthur said later in London: Several inhabitants were dispossessed of their houses, and many others of respectable characters, or who had become opulent by trade, were threatened with the governor's resentment if they presumed to build upon or alienate their own lands.

She dared the traitors 'to stab her to the heart, but to respect the life of her father' . - Eyewitness, Government House, Sydney, 26 January, 1808.

• Mary Putland, Bligh's daughter, hurled herself bravely before the soldiers of the NSW Corps who were coming, bayonets fixed, to arrest her father. Bligh, according to legend, was cowering under a bed. But that is, undoubtedly, a lie nurtured by his enemies.

Soldiers! Your conduct has endeared you to every well-disposed inhabitant of this settlement. Persevere in the same honourable path and you will establish the credit of the New South Wales Corps on a basis not to be shaken. God Save The King! - Proclamation from the Rum Corps Dictatorship, Sydney, 27 January, 1808.

I have been deeply engaged all this day in contending for the liberties of this unhappy Colony, and I am happy to say I have succeeded beyond what I expected - the Tyrant is now no doubt gnashing his Teeth with the vexation of his overthrow. - Rum Corps Dictator John Macarthur to his wife, Elizabeth, Sydney, 30 January, 1808.

As there was no office vacant to which I could appoint him, and as it was necessary that he should have some public character, I created an office which has never existed here, and I appointed him Secretary to the Colony. This unauthorised innovation I trust will not be disapproved, when my peculiar situation is considered, more particularly as it entails no expense upon the public. - Letter from Rum Corps military leader Major George Johnston, Sydney, to Lord Castlereagh, Secretary for Colonies, London, 11 April, 1808.

• Thus, Macarthur assumed control of NSW.

Manure for the mind

Education is to mankind what culture is to vegetables; if this is neglected the Garden is overrun with noxious weeds; if that is forgotten the manners of men degenerate into vice and wickedness. - William Crook, Sydney, 22 May 1808.

• Crook was a zealous Congregationalist pastor who came to Sydney in 1804 and opened the first boarding school in Australia at with the encouragement of the Rev Samuel Marsden. Later, he moved to Sydney where his wife, Hannah, provided a steady stream of pupils, giving birth to one son and eight daughters.

Wages of sin (cont.)

From the number of robberies lately committed on my premises, I have appointed a Watchman with directions to fire at any person he may see on them after dark. - S. Lord, Sydney Gazette , 29 May, 1808.

• Simeon Lord, transported for stealing cloth in 1790, was angered in later life by thieves! He became one of the colony's richest businessmen and founded a notable family with his emancipist wife, Mary.

Another victim of the Rum Corps

... William Gore Esq. was brought to the bar an arraigned on a charge of perjury; when refusing to plead his indictment, he was pronounced Guilty, and sentenced to be transported for seven years. - Court report, Sydney, 30 May, 1808.

• Gore, previously Provost-Marshal, was seen by the Rum Corps rebels as their principal enemy. He had come to the colony with William Bligh and remained his steadfast supporter during the rebellion. John Macarthur and his friends used the illegal judiciary to destroy him. He was sent to the coal mines at Newcastle until released in 1810 .

Sundry notes from the Sydney Courts

William Tracey, for having taken upon himself the name James Tracey, and fraudulently obtaining a certificate of his term of transportation being expired; whereas the true James Tracey had been executed in this colony, and the prisoner himself was under sentence of transportation for life. Sentenced 150 lashes. - Assize Report, Sydney, 12 June, 1808.

The Magistracy, taking into account the most efficacious means of preventing depredations, have ordered that all prisoners of an infamous nature sleep in gaol. - Sydney Gazette , 12 June, 1808.

Yesterday morning, John McNeal, Alexander Wilson, alias Charles Boyle, and Mary Grady were executed at Sydney; and tomorrow is fixed for the execution of Felix Donnelly, Michael Bagan and Elizabeth Connor . - Court notice, Sydney, 12 June, 1808.

• Elizabeth Connor was the wickedest, having stolen 70 pounds sterling from her employer, Simeon Lord, but she was given clemency under the shadow of the gallows. In October, she was charged with murdering her infant child in Newcastle, but was acquitted through lack of evidence.

Brave voice against the Rum Corps

At length it was plainly seen to everyone that the Colonial Secretary (Macarthur) was in possession of the command, and that you been made the tool in the business to answer his ambitious views. - Naturalist George Caley, open letter to Major George Johnston, Sydney, 7 July, 1808.

• Caley's letter was not sent directly to Johnston, but went to his mentor, Sir Joseph Banks, in London. It reflected the frustration of the pro-Bligh group in NSW.

Rum Corps plotters finds a new ally

As the Government of this Colony has been upwards of six months out of the hands of William Bligh Esq.; and as the circumstances attending his Suspension have been fully submitted to His Majesty's Ministers, who alone are competent to decide, Lieutenant Governor Foveaux conceives it to be beyond his authority to judge between Governor Bligh and the Officers he found in command of the Colony. - Proclamation, Sydney, 31 July, 1808.

• Joseph Foveaux, an old NSW hand and friend of the Rum Rebels, arrived in Sydney from England to find Major George Johnston and John Macarthur self-styled rulers of the colony. Bligh was still under arrest in Sydney.

Lieutenant Governor Foveaux has learned, with equal indignation and surprise, that men who have been Prisoners in the Colony have so forgotten their former condition as to obtrude themselves into the Courts of Justice in the Character of Counsellors and Advocates. - General Order, Sydney, 28 August, 1808.

• The hapless attorney about to be sent to toil in the coal mines at Newcastle was George Crossley, convicted of perjury in London and transported in 1799. His latest offence was that he was a legal advisor to Governor Bligh. He was liberated by Lachlan Macquarie.

The concealment under the feather bed made me smile, but did not surprise me in the least, as I had long possessed the strongest testimony from a friend who had served with Governor Bligh that he was not only a tyrant, but also a poltroon. - Retired Lieut General Watkin Tench, Plymouth, England, 2 September, 1808.

• The Rum Corps' propaganda about the circumstances of Bligh's arrest finally reached the elderly First Fleeter, Tench. And from whom did he hear it? From Edward Macarthur, John's son, that's who!

An interesting variation on public executions

The four criminals who were condemned to death the week before, were executed in pursuance of their sentence. Between 7 and 8 in the morning, they were taken from the county gaol and, all except John Cheeseman, who was a cripple, walked to the place of atonement . - Execution report, Sydney, 4 September, 1808.

• One would think that the forger, Cheeseman, would have made an effort to walk on such a special day. Apparently, he was carried on his bed.

Rum Corps kicks another goal in game of spite!

The Court of Civil Jurisdiction, having ordered and directed me to make a dividend of the proceeds and the effects of Mr Wm. Gore, which were sold by auction on the 29th of February last. All persons having any claim or demand on the said Mr Wm. Gore prior to that period are requested to send the same to me immediately. - G. Blaxcell, Sydney, 11 September, 1808.

• What sweet revenge for Garnham Blaxcell! He was an enthusiastic Rum rebel and partner of John Macarthur. He had lost his lucrative position of Provost-Marshall to William Gore ( see 30 May, 1808 ), but had the pleasant task of overseeing the sale of hapless man's assets, to the disadvantage of his destitute family. Blaxcell eventually fled the colony to avoid his debts, but died on the passage home.

Social notes

If parents wish to see their children prosper, let them admonish them against the innocent amusement of chuck farthing - because chuck farthing resembles gambling, and gambling is not included in the list of Virtues; but on the contrary supports a very fair pretension to rank highly in the catalogue of vices which disgrace mankind. - Sydney Gazette , 21 August, 1808

Carmine.- Any person having a small quantity to spare will be treated with liberally for the same. J.W. Lewin, professor of painting. - Advertisement, Sydney, 11 September, 1808.

• John Lewin, noted painter of insects, had obviously come upon some red or crimson creatures.

Mr W. Redfern is appointed to act as assistant surgeon in the Colony, and will do duty in Sydney. - Edict from Lieut Governor Joseph Foveaux, Sydney, 25 September, 1808.

• Foveaux, newly-arrived to take over from the Rum Corps, was quick to appoint William Redfern, transported in 1801 for his part in the Mutiny on the Nore, to a key position.

The two emues arrived safe and were presented to Lady Castlereagh, and one swan and one goose lived, which were given to Lady Camden. - Edward Macarthur, London, to his father, John, Sydney, 7 October, 1808.

• The Macarthurs were assiduously currying favour in British ruling class circles by giving gifts of Australian native fauna to the wives of two very important men; Edward said they had also asked for some bronzewing pigeons, but these were withheld because it would 'overdo the business'.

Rum Corps enforces its monopoly

Lieut. Governor Foveaux has been pleased to grant a Free Pardon, and a further reward of Ten Pounds sterling, to Charles Thorpe, a prisoner under sentence of transportation for 14 years, by whose information the still was found and seized in Martin Mason's house. - Sydney Gazette , 16 October, 1808.

• Thorpe, then aged 30, reduced his imprisonment by 10 years by informing on Mason. And to make it even sweeter, Mason was a former assistant surgeon infamous for his harshness to convicts at Coal River (Newcastle).

Enlightened employer in Sydney's Dark Age

Wanted for the ship Elizabeth, three Apprentices from twelve to fifteen years old, to be bound for the Terms of Five Years, on the same terms as if bound in England; and for further encouragement, whenever the vessel is in Port, they will have the advantage of an Evening School. - Employment advertisement, Sydney, 23 October, 1808.

• This enlightened advertisement was inserted by the pioneer Sydney trader, Robert Campbell, who was engaged in trade between Sydney, Hobart and India. He had also begun to ship seal skins to England, which brought him into conflict with the monopolistic East India Company.

Amicable separation grows even fonder

Whereas I, Benjamin Pate, have this day mutually agreed with Mary Blany, otherwise Pate, my wife, to separate from bed and board forever. - In consideration of which I have also agreed to give the said Mary the stone house I lived in, on the Rocks, with all the furniture forever, I have also consented to give her Ten Shillings a week ... - Separation Agreement, 1 January, 1809.

• And it was to become even better for Mary. The following April, Benjamin Pate was drowned when the vessel of which he was master, Argument , (probably named in memory of the latter stages of his relationship with Mary) foundered on rocks near Broken Bay.

Paterson takes over ... finally

Yesterday evening arrived within the Heads, His Majesty's Ship, Porpoise, from Port Dalrymple seven days, having on board Lieutenant Governor Paterson and Lady ... - Shipping News, Sydney, 1 January, 1809.

• Paterson had finally agreed to leave Van Diemens Land to take over the government in Sydney. He ordered Governor Bligh and Major George Johnston to London. Johnston obeyed; but the annoying Bligh did not, preferring to lurk in Tasmanian waters.

Mutineer (?) on desirable prize escapes hangman

On the Admiral Gambier's arrival, we had occasion to mention that a person who was supposed to have been one of the mutineers on board the Lady Shore had been apprehended at Rio De Janeiro and was forwarded by the Gambier to this colony . - Sydney Gazette , 15 January, 1809.

• The person in question was William Buckett, who had to prove he was not one William Sheridan, or he would be for the gallows. The Lady Shore was the only convict ship taken by mutiny. She was seized in 1797 by her military guard, whose prize was 66 delectable lady convicts. She was sailed to Montevideo, where the mutineers were made prisoners and the convicts became servants of the Spanish ladies. Buckett managed to prove his innocence, although there were some who remained unconvinced.

Bligh, aboard the Porpoise , plays games

It being deemed by Lieutenant Governor Paterson absolutely essential to His Majesty's Service and the Interests of this Colony, to send Governor Bligh immediately to England, and it being the intention of Lieutenant Governor Paterson to take up the ship, Admiral Gambier, for his Conveyance, Governor Bligh has represented that it would be on many accounts be much more desirable to him to be allowed to return home in His Majesty's ship, Porpoise. - Proclamation, Sydney, 4 February, 1809.

• One of the reasons Bligh would not be anxious to travel on the Admiral Gambier was that it would also be carrying his rebel enemies. The second was his secret agenda. He promised as an Officer and a Gentleman to make the voyage on the Porpoise ... and promptly took it to Van Diemens Land

Enterprise begins to flourish among emancipists

To be disposed of at the Sign of the Cornwallis Frigate in Pitt's Row, Five beautiful young emues and a choice collection of Parrots. - Sydney Gazette , 5 February, 1809.

The exertions of the whole colony are not now, as formerly, solely directed to agriculture. We have now adventurers in shipping, traders, shopkeepers and mechanics of every description. - Letter from Lieut Governor William Paterson, Sydney, to Lord Castlereagh, Secretary for Colonies, London, 23 March, 1809.

• Most of these new 'adventurers' were ticket-of-leave convicts or people whose terms had expired. They were encouraged to enter such support industries as shoemaking, blanket manufacturing, potteries, tanneries and so on. Sydney's growing population - now about 10,000 - demanded their services. A new class of society, emancipists, had emerged.

Macarthur and Johnston, Rum Rebels, set sail

On Wednesday the Admiral Gambier sailed for England with Lieutenant-Colonel Johnston, John Harris Esquire, Surgeon, of the New South Wales Corps, Thomas Jamison Esq., Principal Surgeon of the Colony, and several other Passengers. - Sydney Gazette , 2 April, 1809.

• George Johnston was sent home to be ultimately cashiered for his part in the Rum Rebellion. One of the 'Passengers' and the real dictator of NSW was his crony, John Macarthur, who was to be the main defence witness. A jolly crowd of their friends followed them 60km out to sea in the vessel, Venus , got caught in a current on the way back and very nearly perished through lack of food and water. They were saved only by aborigines who gave them some fish near Botany Bay.

Social jottings from a rich and varied society

Wanted. A Sober, steady Man Servant whose Character may bear enquiry. Apply G. Howe. - Position Vacant, Sydney, 21 May, 1809.

• Wishful thinking in Sydney Town by George Howe, publisher, whose own past as a transported robber would not bear much scrutiny.

A Child in four months shall be taught from the Alphabet to read the Testament as correctly as the weakness of Childhood will admit for Five Guineas only; only six Children can be attended ... - Advertisement, Sydney, 21 May, 1809.

• George Howe, the editor, placed this advertisement for a Juvenile Speed Reading course in the Sydney Gazette . There was a tradition in NSW of convicts taking up the education of the young. Two First Fleeters, Isabella Rosson and Mary Johnson conducted early schools using Dixon's English Instructor; forty-nine copies came out with the Fleet.

The body was interred on Friday near the place where the act was committed, and a stake driven through it.- Sydney Gazette , 28 May, 1809.

• John Driver hanged himself. And the dreaded posthumous stake was what happened to people who committed suicide.

Accidentally lost, two Gloves, both for the Right hand. - Sydney Gazette , 4 June, 1809.

Child rapists' punishment inflicted by the people

Henry Sayers was then indicted for a violent attempt upon a girl between 13 and 14 years of age; whose testimony was supported by that of others; from all which no doubt remained of the prisoner's guilt; he was found guilty accordingly; and received the following sentence:- that upon Saturday the 10th instant he should stand one hour on the market stand in Sydney, between the hours of 10 and 11; and on Saturday the 17th instant at in like manner; and at each place to receive 100 lashes. - Court report, Sydney, 4 June, 1809.

• In August, 1791, a Marine Private, Henry Wright, a previous offender, was found guilty on Norfolk Island of the attempted rape of Elizabeth Gregory, aged ten. He was forced to run the gauntlet of the entire island population, whipped and sent back to Sydney to await the Governor's Pleasure.

Bakers rolled, but penalty could be worse

Yesterday, three bakers were fined the sum of 20s each for baking and vending bread of a bad quality. - Court report, Sydney, 25 June, 1809.

• Recently, the Sydney Gazette had carried an amusing little piece describing how Turkish bakers, convicted of similar offences, were placed in their own ovens and had the doors slammed. Consequently, there were no repeat offenders in Turkey, but many in Sydney.

Flinders and Trim: Is there a secret message in this?

Some time in 1809, after nearly six years of continuing gentlemanly confinement on Mauritius, Matthew Flinders wrote an obituary of his cat, Trim, concluding with a condemnation of his jailer, the allegedly anti-British Frenchman, Charles De Caen. There are those who believe De Caen kept Flinders on the Indian Ocean island out of spite, others who thought De Caen considered him a dangerous spy. Indeed, there may have been a coded message to the British Admiralty in the following. Even the alleged spelling errors may have had some significance. Thus, it has been published unedited ...

I can never speak of cats without a sentiment of regret for my poor Trim, the favourite of all our ship's company on the Spyall (aka the Investigator. Now read on). This good-natured purring animal was born on board His Majesty's ship the Roundabout in 1799 during a passage from the Cape of Good Hope to Botany Bay; and saving the rights and titles of the parish of Stepney, was consequently an Indian by birth. The signs of superior intelligence which marked his infancy, procured for him an education beyond what is usually bestowed upon the individuals of his tribe; and being brought up amongst sailors, his manners acquired a peculiarity of cant which rendered them as different from those of other cats, as the actions of a fearless seaman are from those of a lounging, shame-faced ploughboy; it was, however, from his gentleness and the innate goodness of his heart, that I gave him the name of my uncle Toby's honest, kind-hearted, humble companion. In playing with his little brothers and sisters upon deck by moonlight, when the ship was lying tranquilly in harbour, the energy and elasticity of his movements sometimes carried him so far beyond his mark, that he fell overboard; but this was far from being a misfortune; he learned to swim and to have no dread of the water; and when a rope was thrown over to him, he took hold of it like a man, and ran up it like a cat: In a short time he was able to mount up the gangway steps quicker than his master, or even than the first lieutenant. Being a favourite with every one on board, both officers and seamen, he was well fed, and grew fat both in size and comeliness: A description ofhis person will not be misplaced here. From the care that was taken of him, and the force of his own constitution, Trim grew to be one of the finest animals I ever saw; his eyes even emulated that of his friends of Angora: his weight being from ten to twelve pounds according as our fresh-meatometer stood high or low. His tail was long, large and bushy; and when he was animated by the presence of a stranger of the anti-catean race, it bristled out to a fearful size, whilst vivid flashes darted from his fiery eyes, though at other times he was candour and good nature itself. His head was small and round, his physionomy bespoke intelligence and confidence, wiskers long and graceful, and his ears were cropped in a beautiful curve. Trim's robe was a clear jet black, with the exception of his four feet, which seemed to have been dipped in snow; and his under lip, which rivalled them in whiteness; he had also a white star on his breast, and it seemed as if nature had designed him for the model of his race: I doubt whether Whittington's cat, of which so much has been said and written, was to be compared to him. Notwithstanding my great partiality to my friend, Trim, strict justice obliges me to cite in this place a trait in his character which by many will be thought a blemish: He was, I am sorry to say it, excessively vain of his person, particularly of his snow-white feet. He would frequently place himself on the quarter deck before the officers, in the middle of their walk; and spreading out his two white hands in the posture of a lion couchant, oblige them to stop and admire him. They would indeed say low to each other, 'See the vanity of that cat!' But they could not help admiring his graceful form and beautiful white feet. Indeed when it is known, that to the finest form ever beheld, he joined extraordinary personal and mental qualifications, the impossibility that the officers could be angry with him must be evident; and they were men of too much eloquent of mind to be jealous of him. I would not be an advocate in the cause of vanity; but if it is ever excusable, it was so in this case. How many men are there, who have no claim either from birth, fortune, or acquirements, personal or mental, whose vanity is not to be confined within such harmless bounds, as was that of Trim! And I will say for him, that he never spoke ill of or objected to the pretensions of others, which is more than can be said for very many bipeds. Trim, though vain as we have seen, was not like those young men who, being assured of an independence, spend their youth in idle trifling, and consider all serious application as pedantic and derogatory, or at least to be useless; He was, on the contrary, animated with a noble zeal for the improvement of his faculties. His exercises commenced with the acquirement of the art of leaping over the hands; and as every man in the ship took pleasure in instructing him, he at length arrived to such a pitch of perfection, that I am persuaded, had nature placed him on the empire of Lilliput, his merit would have promoted him to the first offices in the state. He was taught to lie flat upon the deck on his back, with his four feet stretched out like one dead; and in this posture he would remain until a signal was given him to rise, whilst his preceptor resumed his walk backwards and forwards; if, however, he was kept in this position, which it must be confessed was not very agreeable to a quadruped, a slight motion at the end of his tail denoted the commencement of impatience, and his friends never pushed their lessons further. Trim took a fancy to nautical astronomy. When an officer took lunar or other observations, he would place himself by the time-keeper, and consider the motion of the hands, and apparently the uses of the instrument, with much earnest attention; he would try to touch the second hand, listen to the ticking, and walk all around the piece to assure himself whether or no it might not be a living animal. And mewing to the young gentleman whose business it was to mark down the time, seemed to ask an explanation. When the officer had made his observation, the cry of Stop! roused Trim from his meditation; he cocked his tail, and running up the rigging near to the officer, mewed to know the meaning of all those proceedings. Finding at length that nature had not designed him for an astronomer, Trim had too much good sense to continue a useless pursuit; but a musket ball slung with a piece of twine, and made to whirl round upon the deck by a slight motion of the finger, never failed to attract his notice, and to give him pleasure; perhaps from bearing a near resemblance to the movement of his favourite planet the moon, in her orbit around the primary which we inhabit. He was equally fond of making experiments upon projectile forces and the power of gravity: If a ball was thrown gently along the deck, he would pursue with the friction overcame the impelling power, he would give the ball a fresh impetus, but generally to turn its direction into an elliptic curve; at other times the form of the earth appeared to be the object of his experiments, and his ball was made to describe an oblate spheroid. The seamen took advantage of this his propensity to making experiments with globular bodies, and two of them would often place themselves, one at each end of the forecastle, and trundling a ball backwards and forwards from one to the other, would keep Trim in constant action running after it; his admiration of the planetary

system having induced an habitual passion for every thing round that was in motion. Could Trim have had the benefit of an Orrery, or even been present at Mr.(unclear) experiments in natural philosophy, there can be no doubt as to the progress he would have made in the desire to gain a competent knowledge in practical seamanship, was not less than he showed for experimental philosophy. The replacing a top-mast carried away, or taking a reef in the sails were what most attracted his attention at sea; and at all times when there was more bustle on deck than usual, he never failed to be present and in the midst of it; for as I have before hinted, he was endowed with an unusual degree of confidence and courage, and having never received anything good from men, he believed all to be his friends, and he was the friend of all. When the nature of the bustle upon the deck was not

understood by him, he would mew and rub his back up against the legs of one and another, frequently at the risk of being trampled underfoot, until he obtained the attention of someone to satisfy him.

He knew what good discipline required, and on taking in a reef, never presumed to go aloft until the order was issued; but go as soon as the officer had issued the word,'Away up aloft!' Up he jumped along with the seamen, and so active and zealous was he, that none could reach the top before, or so soon as he did. His zeal, however, never carried him beyond a sense of his dignity; he did not lay out on the yard like a common seaman, but always remained seated upon the cap, to inspect like an officer. This assumption of authority to which, it must be confessed, his rank, though great as a quadraped, did not entitle him amongst men, created no jealousy; for he always found some good friends to caress him after the business was done, and to take him down in his arms.

The greatest discoveries are sometimes due to accident. It must now be evident, that some celebrated cat of antiquity, perhaps one of those which entered with Noah into the ark and from which Trim was probably a descendent, gave rise, by the great profundity of his meditations, to the personification of wisdom adopted in the hyeroglyphic paintings and sculptures of the first ages. When afterwards Minerva was made the emblem of wisdom, she was long accompanied by a cat, to mark the attribute she represented; and with all deference to the E A Ses, I presume to conjecture, that it was not until about the time of Pericles, when all the divine attributes were made to take a human form, that this Grecian divinity could disperse with the presence of her companion. It was not the presence of Minerva which shewed the cat to be the personification of the wisdom of the great (illegible) or Jupiter, but that of the cat which explained what Minerva was intended to represent. I could go still further, and shew (illegible) ...

In harbour, the measuring of log and lead lines upon deck, and the stowage of the holds below, were the favourite subjects of his attention. No sooner was a cask moved, than he darted in under it upon the enemies of his king and country, at the imminent risk of having his head crushed to atoms, which he several times very narrowly escaped. In the bread room he was still more indefatigable; he frequently solicited to be left there alone and in the dark, for two or three days together, that nothing might interrupt him in the discharge of his duty. This is one of the brightest traits in my friend Trim's character, and would indeed do honour to any character. In making the following deductions from it I shall not, I think, be accused of an unjust partiality. 1st it must be evident that he had no fear of evil spirits; and consequently that he had a conscience above reproach. (The 2nd character trait is illegible) It is clear that he possessed a degree of patience and perseverance, of which few men can boast; and 3rd that like a faithful subject, he employed all these estimable qualities in the service of His Majesty's faithful servants, and indirectly of His Majesty himself. Alas! my poor Trim thy extraordinary merit required only to be known, in order to excite universal admiration. Trim was admitted upon the table of almost every officer and man in the ship: In the gunroom he was always the first ready for dinner; but though he was commonly seated a quarter of an hour before any other person, his modest reserve was such that his voice was not heard until every body else was served. He then put in his request, not for a full allowance, he was too modest, nor did he desire there should be laid for him a plate, knife, fork, or spoon with all which he could very well dispense; but by a gentle caressing mew, he petitioned for a little, little bit, a kind of tythe from the plate of each, and it was to no purpose to refuse it, for Trim was enterprising in time of need, as he was gentle and well bred in ordinary times. Without the greatest attention to each morsel, in the person whom he had petioned in vain; he would whip it off the fork with his paw, on it's passage to the mouth, with such dexterity and an air so graceful, that it rather excited admiration than anger. He did not, however, leap off the table with his prize, as if he had done wrong; but putting the morsel into his mouth and eating it quietly, would go to the next person and repeat his little mew: if refused his wonted tythe, he stood ready to take all advantages. There are some men so inconsiderate as to be talking when they should be eating, who keep their meat suspended in mid-air till a semi-colon in the discourse gives an opportunity of taking their mouthful without interrupting their story. Guests of this description were a dead mark for Trim: when a short pause left them time to take the prepared mouthful ,they were often surprised to find the meat gone, they could not tell how. Trim had one day missed a fine morsel from the hungry activity of one of the young gentlemen (the present captain D.) who dined in the gunroom; seeing him, however, talking and eating at the same time, my persevering gentleman did not give it up, though the piece was half masticated and only waited for a piece to disappear; but running up the waistcoat of our unsuspecting guest, for Trim was then but a kitten, and placing one paw at each corner of his mouth, he laid siege to his morsel; and whilst the astonished midshipman inarticulately exclaimed, G_d d__n the cat! Trim fairly took the piece out of his mouth and carried it off. This was pushing his enterprises too far, and he therefore received a reprimand which prevented them in future. The gunroom steward was, however, more particularly Trim's confident; and though he had dined with the masters, he was not too proud to sit down a second time with the servant. William had such an opinion of Trim's intelligence, that he talked to him as to his child, whilst my four-footed master looking up in his face, seemed to understand him and to give rational answers. They had the following conversation after dinner on the day of Trim's audacious enterprise just related: 'Do you know master Trim that you have behaved very ill?' 'Me-ew?' 'It is very well to play your tricks with those that you know, but you should be more modest with strangers. ' 'Mew!' 'How dare you say that I gave you no breakfast? Did I not give you all the milk that was left, and some bread soaked in it?' 'Mou wow!' 'No meat! What! you grow insolent? I'll chain you up; do you hear sir?' 'Me-ew. Well if you promise to behave better, you shall have a nice piece of the cold steak of mutton for your supper, you shall!' 'Mew wew!!' 'Gently, master Trim. I'll give it to you now, but first promise me upon your honour.' 'Me-wee.' 'Come then, my good boy, come up and kiss me.' Trim leaped up on his shoulder and, rubbing his face up against William's cheek, received the mutton, piece by piece out of his mouth.

In an expedition to examine the northern parts of the coast of New South Wales, Trim presented a request to be of the party, promising to take upon himself the defence of our bread bags, and his services were accepted. Bongaree, an intelligent native of Port Jackson, was also on board our little sloop, and with Trim formed an intimate acquaintance. If he had occasion to drink, he mewed to Bongaree and leaped up to the water cask; if to eat, he called him down below and went strait [ to hiskid, where there was generally a remnant of black swan. In short, Bongaree was his great resource, and his kindness was repaid with caresses.

In times of danger, Trim never shewed any signs of fear, and it may be truly said, that he never distrusted or was afraid of any man. In 1800, the Roundabout returned to England by the way of Cape Horn and St. Helena, and thus Trim, besides his other voyages, completed the tour of the globe. Many and curious are the observations which he made in various branches of science, particularly in the natural history of small quadrupeds, birds and flying fish, for which he had much taste. These with his remarks upon men and manners, if future leisure should enable me to put them into order, I may perhaps give to the world; and from the various seas and countries he has visited, joined to his superior powers for distinguishing obscure subjects, and talents for seizing them, these observations may be expected to be more interesting than the imaginary adventures of your guineas, shillings, or half-pence, and to possess more originality than the Turkish spy. Trim was not only a stranger to England, but also to a house and to the manner of living in it: The king of Bantam's ambassador was not more inexperienced in these matters than he. I took a lodging for him at Deptford, placing him under the guardianship of the good woman of the house, who promised to instruct him in the usages of Terra Firma; but she knew not what she had undertaken. He would go out at the sash window to the top of the house, for the convenience of making his observations on the surrounding country more at ease; it came on to rain; the sash was put down. This would have been an invincible obstacle to other cats, but not so to Trim: He bolted through the glass like a clap of thunder, to the great alarm of the good hostess below. 'Good God, Trim', exclaimed she on entering the chamber, "is it thee? They said thou wast a strange outlandish cat, and verily I think thou art the divil: I must shut thee up, for if thou go'st to treat neighbours thus, I shall have thee taken up for a burglary. But come,I know thy master will pay the damage: hast thou cut thyself?' Woe to the good woman's china, if Trim got into her closet. Your delicate town bred cats go mincing in amongst cup and saucers without touching them; but Trim! If he spied a mouse there he dashed at it like a man of war, through thick and thin: the splinters flew in all directions. The poor woman at first thought an evil spirit was playing his pranks in her cupboard; she opens the door with fear and trembling; when, to her infinite dismay, out jumps my black gentleman upon her shoulder: she was well neigh dead with fear. Seeing how much mischief was done to her dear china, the pride of her heart, she seized Trim to beat him soundly; but instead of trying to escape, the droll animal rubs his wiskers up against her chin and falls to purring. She had no longer the heart to strike him; but after a moment's hesitation, she heaved a sigh and picked up the pieces. I took him up to London in the stagecoach, and as there were no fine ladies to be frightened at the presence of a strange cat, he was left at full liberty. He was not in the least disconcerted by the novelty of his situation; but placing himself upon the seat, and stretching out his white paws, conducted himself reasonably like any other passenger, to the admiration of the two gentlemen who did not cease to make inquiries concerning his education, manners, and adventures, during the whole way to town. A worthy acquaintance in London took Trim into, his family, but he soon requested me to take him back, for 'such a strange animal', said he, 'I never saw. I am afraid of losing him: He goes out into the streets in the middle of the day, and rubs himself against the legs of people passing by. Several have taken him up to caress him, but I fear someone will be carrying him off.' I took him on board the Spyall to make a second voyage to the South Seas. Trim now found himself at home; and his gentleness and extraordinary confidence, joined to the amusement his droll antics furnished them, soon made him as great a favourite with his new shipmates, as he had been on board the Roundabout. We had several dogs on board the Spyall, but Trim was undisputed master of them all. When they were at play upon the deck, he would go in amongst them with his stately air; and giving a blow at the eyes of one, and a scratch on the nose to another, oblige them to stand out of his way. He was capable of being animated against a dog, as dogs usually may be against a cat; and I have more than once sent him from the quarter deck to drive a dog off the forecastle. He would run half the way briskly, crouching like a lion which has prey in view; but then assuming a majestic deportment, and without being deterred by the menacing attitude of his opponent, he would march straight up to him, and give him a blow on the nose, accompanied by a threatening mew! If\ the dog did not immediately retreat, he flew at him with his war cry of Yow! If resistance was still made, he leaped up on the rail over his head and so bespattered him about the eyes that he was glad to run off howling. Trim pursued him till he took refuge below; and then returned smiling to his master to receive his caresses. During our circumnavigation of Australia in the years 1801, 2 and 3, Trim had frequent opportunities of repeating his observations and experiments in his favourite science, natural history, and of exerting his undiminished activity and zeal for the public good. In the Gulph of Carpentaria, from the unhealthiness of the climate, the want of his usual fresh food, and perhaps from too much application to study, this worthy creature became almost grey, lost much of weight, and seemed to be threatened with a premature old age; but to the great joy of his friends, he re-assumed his fine black robe and his accustomed portliness, a short time after returning to harbour. Only once was Trim known to be guilty of theft: he had a soul above it; but one unlucky afternoon, a cold leg of mutton in the pantry tempted him. Being unable to carry it himself, he got the assistance of Van, a Dutch cat on board; and they had so far succeeded as to get it down off the shelf, and were dragging it together into the hold; when lo!, the steward came and surprised them in the fact. Van made his escape, but Trim, ever confident, made no efforts, and was seized and beaten soundly. He took the blows with philosophical patience; but no sooner was he set at liberty, than he ran after his false Dutch friend, and repaid him with interest the beating he had received. The recital of this unfortunate anecdote of my friend Trim, will I hope be received as a proof of the impartiality of this history; and I advertize the reader not to seek in it for any political allegory; but to be assured, that the facts were really such as they are here related. The Spyall being found to be rotten, Trim embarked onboard His Majesty's ship the Janty to return to England, and was shipwrecked with us upon a coral bank in the Great Equinoxial Ocean on the night of Aug. 17. 1802. The imagination can scarcely attain to what Trim had to suffer during this dreadful night, but his courage was not beat down. He got to Wreck-Reef Bank with the crew, and passed there two long and dreary months; during which his zeal in the provision tentwas not less than it had been in the bread room, and his manners preserved all their amiability. When vessels arrived to our assistance , Trim preferred following his master on board the Minikin schooner, to going with the rest of the ship's company to China in a large vessel, giving thereby a memorable example of faithful attachment. The Minikin being very leaky, was obliged to stop at the Isle of France; and there poor Trim, his master and a few followers were all made prisoners; under the pretext that they had come to spy out the nakedness of the land; though it was clear as day, that they knew nothing of the war that had taken place a few months before. Trim was confined in a room with his master and another officer, and, as he possessed more philosophy than we did, he contributed by his gay humour to soften our strait captivity; but sometimes also he contrived to elude the vigilance of the sentinel at the door, and left to make little temporary excursions in the neighbourhood. It is probable that he made some new secret acquaintances in these visits, for they became more frequent than was prudent; and for fear of accident, we were obliged to shut him up after supper. On our being removed to the Maison Despeaux amongst the prisoners of war, a French lady offered to be Trim's security, in order to have him for a companion to her little daughter; and the fear of some clandestine proceedings on the part of the soldiers of the guard, induced me to comply, on finding it would give no umbrage to His Excellency the French governor and captain-general. A fortnight had scarcely passed, when the public gazette of the island announced that he was no where to be found; and offered a reward of ten Spanish dollars to any one who would conduct him back to his afflicted little mistress. My sorrow may be betteconceived than described; I would with pleasure have given fifty dollars to have had my friend and companion restored to me. All research and offers of recompense were in vain, poor Trim was effectually lost; and it is but too probable, that this excellent unsuspecting animal was stewed and eaten by some hungry black slave, in whose eyes all his merits could not balance against the avidity excited by his sleek body and fine furred skin. Thus perished my faithful intelligent Trim! The, sporting, affectionate, and useful companion of my voyages during four years. Never, my Trim, 'to take thee all in all, shall I see thy like again'; but never wilt thou cease to be regretted by all who had the pleasure of knowing thee. And for thy affectionate master and friend, he promises thee, if ever he shall have the happiness to enjoy repose in his native country, under a thatched cottage surrounded by half an acre of land, to erect in the most retired corner, a monument to perpetuate the memory and record thy uncommon merits. And this shall be thy epitaph: To the memory of Trim, the best and most illustrious of his Race, the most affectionate of friends, faithful of servants and best of creatures. He made the Tour of the Globe, and a voyage to Australia, which he circumnavigated; and was ever the delight and pleasure of his fellow voyagers. Returning to Europe in 1803, he was shipwrecked in the Great Equinoxial Ocean; This danger escaped, he sought refuge and assistance at the Isle of France, where he was made prisoner, contrary to the laws of Justice, of Humanity, and of French National Faith; and where, alas! he terminated his useful career, by an untimely death, being devoured by the Catophagi of that island. Many a time have I beheld his little merriments with delight, and his superior intelligence with surprise: Never will his like be seen again! Trim was born in the Southern Indian Ocean, in the year1799, and perished as above at the Isle of France in 1804. Peace be to his shade, and Honour to his memory.

• Flinders, needless to say, disguised the names of the other ships in Trim's adventures.

Rum Corps replacement ... and Lachlan Macquarie

No public letters of any importance were received by the (ship) Experiment, but a private communication, on the accuracy of which there is every reason to rely, announces the appointment of Brigadier General Nightingale to the Government of this Colony; and adds that the 73rd Regiment of Foot was to leave England in May inst. for the purpose of relieving the New South Wales Corps, which on its arrival home is to be numbered the 102nd Regiment.' - Sydney Gazette , 2 July, 1809.

• The Gazette misspelled Brigadier Miles Nightingall's name, but it was of no consequence; he withdrew from the appointment before sailing and was replaced by the 73rd's deputy commander, Lachlan Macquarie.

Agricultural ambitions, but not bananas!

We have the pleasure to announce to our readers that it is ascertained that the banana can be reared in the Colony, there being now two trees, each bearing a bunch whereon are two to three dozen nearly ripe, in the garden of a Gentleman a few miles from Sydney. - Horticultural note, Sydney, 9 July, 1809.

Catastrophic floods in surrounding valleys

A settler at Cornwallis passed the Hills this morning on the top of a small wheat stack; his fate is unknown. - Letter from a Hawkesbury River farmer, 6 August, 1809.

• Appalling floods took many lives in the Hawkesbury, Georges and Nepean (upper Hawkesbury) valleys. The Government warned against more fortunate people trying to monopolise the produce market, particularly wheat, and forbade its export.

Shiploads of sturdy Irish virgins (we suppose)

Yesterday arrived the Indispensable, Captain Best, with 61 female prisoners, all in a healthy state. - Shipping news, Sydney, 20 August, 1809.

• There was a marked improvement in the health of arriving female convicts. The previous month, the little Experiment , of just 146 tons with a crew of 12 seaman, had made the passage from Cork in only 155 days. All of her 60 female convicts were fit and well. The female convicts, of course, were permitted to wander their ships at will. Men were generally confined to their quarters by ships' masters who feared uprisings. In 1814. the General Hewitt landed 266 male convicts in 'a very weak and sickly state'.

Disgraced Rum Corps gets a new name

The Lieutenant-Governor (Paterson) will inspect the 102nd Regiment at the Old Cricket Ground on Tuesday next the 5th Inst. at 12 o'clock. - Proclamation, Sydney, 3 September, 1809.

• The NSW Corps, or Rum Corps, was given a far more mundane name before being shipped back to England. They were replaced by Lachlan Macquarie's 73rd Regiment, all Scots.

There goes the neighbourhood!

Yesterday morning was married by the Reverend Mr (William) Cowper at half past 11 o'clock, by special licence, Mr William Gaudry, of the Secretary's Office, and Lieutenant in the Loyal Sydney Volunteer Association, to Miss Kable, eldest daughter of Mr Henry Kable, Merchant ... Wedding notice, Sydney, 17 September, 1809.

• Henry and Susannah Kable, proud parents and convicted First Fleet thieves, finally scaled the colonial social barriers and married their daughter, Diana, into the gentry! Henry Kable had been sentenced to death for burglary, commuted to 14 years' transportation, in 1783; Susannah, who had already borne his child, apparently committed a minor theft so she, too, would be transported. In Sydney, they were married in a mass wedding ceremony on 10 February, 1788. Henry became a successful businessman, outlived Susannah by twenty-one years, and died in 1846, aged 84. The Kable descendants still have a reunion every Australia Day.

Just a joke, but victim became a gibbering wreck

As soon as the verdict was announced, the unfortunate culprit gave evident marks of an affliction not to be described; he repeatedly called for the protection of Heaven to the unfortunate family he was now doomed to leave; and when the awful Sentence of Condemnation was pronounced, he shrieked aloud, and fell upon his knees, imploring pity. - Court report, Sydney, 10 September, 1809.

• Lieut Governor William Paterson, obviously a keen humorist, commuted John Condren's sentence to life imprisonment next day, but not before, no doubt, Condren had time to go out of his Irish mind. A man of the same name was in residence at the Asylum nearly 20 years later.

Early smallpox vaccination

It is with extreme pleasure that I at length feel myself enabled to state, with a degree of certainty, that my Endeavours to establish the Vaccine Inoculation with the Virus I had the honour of receiving from you, have perfectly succeeded. - Letter from surgeon William Redfern, probably to chief colonial surgeon Thomas Jamison, Sydney, 16 October, 1809.

• Redfern reintroduced smallpox vaccination, originally started by Jamison in 1804 (soon after its introduction in England). Redfern observed in his letter that the highly infectious disease had not yet made an appearance in the colony, but an epidemic among Port Jackson aborigines in 1789 is thought to have killed half the native population of southeastern Australia.

Please, don't eat our convicts, Maoris asked

By a recent arrival, it is credibly reported Thomas Roy, otherwise Ratty, who has been repeatedly advertised as an absentee under the head Police Notice, was some time since devoured by the natives at New Zealand ... - Sydney Gazette , 5 November, 1809.

• Doubtless, Thomas found his way from Sydney to New Zealand aboard one of the ships beginning to ply regularly between Australia and there. In 1809, the Maoris demonstrated their independence by massacring the crew of a whaler at the Bay of Islands, in the North Island. The Rev Samuel Marsden was in England that year discussing with church authorities the establishment of missions, one of whose aims would be to teach the Maoris that it was not in good taste to eat Englishmen, even convicts. Culinary lessons began in 1814 when he established the first mission in the Bay of Islands.

3. 1810-1819

'His eyes are stated to have been blown out of his head by a ball or slug which struck him in a unique direction'

STORM clouds assembled over Sydney, as if bidden by some higher authority, as Lachlan Macquarie, the last autocratic governor of NSW, swept through the Heads on 28 December, 1809, to impose the will of the Empire on the mutinous colony. The deposed Governor Bligh was skulking in Van Diemens Land; the principal rebels, John Macarthur and George Johnston, had passed him, unseen, at sea near Rio de Janeiro on their way to England. The impending tempest harried the pathetic settlement until it exploded into its full electric fury on 6 January, 1810. The epicentre of the storm was the office of the Sydney Gazette newspaper at the Rocks. 'The Gazette office was struck in several places at different intervals,' the editor, George Howe, wrote bravely amid the rubble. 'Many of the printing materials being formed of iron, the causes of attraction were no doubt the stronger, and the effects were truly awful. In the two lower rooms were eleven persons, six of whom were children, and all were affected in a greater or less degree, but none seriously injured. By the first shock, a young man, an assistant, felt a violent concussion on the head, which bowed him to the ground ... He immediately left the place on which he stood, however, and, in retreating into the adjoining room, was opposed in his passage by a crash, occasioned by the bursting in of a back door ...'

Howe attributed their escape to 'Divine Providence'. But others knew better. This was Divine Retribution! The Almighty had warned the erring, immoral citizenry. And His agent was Lachlan Macquarie. His Excellency had arrived in town in a flourish, accompanied by his wife, Elizabeth, sundry officials and his own 73rd Regiment of severe Scots, aboard the Royal Navy ships, Dromedary and Hindostan. On New Year's Day, he addressed the inhabitants, expressing the hope that peace would now prevail in the colony. The smart soldiers of the 73rd were drawn up opposite the ageing, disheartened men of the Rum Corps, who had already had their name changed from the NSW Corps to the anonymous 102nd Regiment. Day after day, proclamations issued from Government House: King George 111 was angry about the arrest and deposing of Bligh; acts of the rebel government were declared null and void ... and, on 24 February, one that sent a chill up the spines of the happily de facto couples of the colony: get married or face God's wrath in the manner demonstrated on 6 January at the Gazette office.

Macquarie was the first non-naval governor of NSW. His eyes were drawn inland, rather than to his predecessors' comfortable sea. At that stage, twenty-two years after the arrival of the First Fleet, the colony was still shackled to the coast by the grim, but inviting, Blue Mountains. There were penal settlements at Norfolk Island, Newcastle and in Van Diemens Land. The heroic Matthew Flinders had circumnavigated the continent, but was still (but not for much longer) held under house arrest on the French island of Mauritius. This was a time for rapid change, the transition from a penal colony to a place fit for free people.

Macquarie adopts role of the velvet despot

I am sanguine in my Hopes that all those Dissensions and Jealousies which have unfortunately existed in this Colony for some time past, will now terminate forever, and will give way to a more becoming Spirit of Conciliation, Harmony and Unanimity, among all classes and descriptions of the Inhabitants of it. - Governor Lachlan Macquarie, Sydney, 1 January, 1810.

• Macquarie opened his commission from King George 111 and spoke to the assembled dignitaries and soldiers outside Government House after coming ashore from the vessel, Dromedary .

WHEREAS it has pleased HIS MAJESTY to express his High displeasure at the Arrest and Removal of William Bligh Esq., His late REPRESENTATIVE in this TERRITORY and its DEPENDENCIES ... - Proclamation by Governor Lachlan Macquarie, Sydney, 7 January, 1810.

• Within days of stepping ashore, Macquarie asserted his authority over the rebellious colony. Most decisions made by the rebel officers were declared null and void, positions were declared vacant, and the result of all trials and investigations were countermanded. Pragmatists agreed that the right of appeal to those who had been executed was pointless.

The thunderstorm that set in between four and five yesterday afternoon was accompanied by very vivid lightning, the effects of which were sensibly felt by many, some of whom as sensibly to feel their obligation to the Divine Providence. - - Sydney Gazette , 7 January, 1810.

• The worst-affected premises in town were the Gazette offices, which were host to eleven people. A fireball virtually wrecked the building. Did George Howe, the trembling editor, feel that this was punishment for his fathering five illegitimate children by the convict, Elizabeth Easton?

A Spelling Book has been printed for the Orphan Institution which cannot be otherwise than of much utility in facilitating the progress of the Children in the first principles of Education. - Sydney Gazette , 7 January, 1810.

But they cherish an anxious hope that the Union and Harmony so forcibly recommended by Your Excellency will unanimously prevail and that all Party spirit may be buried in Oblivion. - Address from leading citizens to Governor Macquarie, 16 January, 1810.

• The unaligned citizens of NSW were anxious to distance themselves from the activities of the Rum Corps and pledge their loyalty to the Crown. However, leading 'Pure Merinos' of the Rum Corps were absent in London and would return to cause dissent in the colony.

Disabled for life for trying to steal a chook

A man of the name of Hargrave, in act of entering the fowl house of S. Foster, in South Row, received the contents of a loaded musket in the face, by which his eyes are stated to have been blown out of his head by a ball or slug which struck him in a unique direction. - Sydney Gazette , 11 February, 1810.

• By all accounts, this evilly-disposed chicken thief was considered to have got his just desserts. He was strongly suspected of robbing Rose, the baker, recently at the Rocks.

... wishing to prevent the Repetition of the serious disaster which unfortunately took place on the night of 11th instant, I require all Persons to take notice that I am under the necessity of employing an armed Watchman ... - Notice from Samuel Foster, Sydney, 17 February, 1810.

• Mr Foster's warning came a week late for one man in a community not known for its disability services.

Civilising Sydney under Macquarie's influence

... a Public Charity School will be open in Sydney for the education of Poor Children. - Sydney Gazette , 24 February, 1810.

• It was not for nothing that Macquarie was remembered wit nostalgia as the 'Father of Australia'.

Sydney ties the knot ... with gentle persuasion

... and whereas he feels HIMSELF called upon in particular to reprobate and check, as far as lies in his Power, the scandalous and pernicious Custom adopted throughout this Territory of Persons of Different Sexes Cohabiting and living together ... - Proclamation by Governor Lachlan Macquarie, Sydney, 24 February, 1810.

• Macquarie was alert to the absence of nuptial bands and suggested, in a brutally chiding way, that everyone should do the Right Thing. This included the absent Lieut Colonel (soon to be Mr) George Johnston, who had been living and parenting in blissful sin with the delightful ex-convict, Esther Julian (or Abrahams), since 1788. They obeyed with alacrity.

Flinders freed on Mauritius after six years

His Excellency, the Captain General (De Caen), charges me to have the honour of informing you, that he authorises your return to your country in the cartel, Harriet, on condition of not serving in a hostile manner against France or its allies in the course of the present war. - Notification of Matthew Flinders' impending release, Mauritius, 13 March, 1810.

• Flinders had been a prisoner of the French on Mauritius for more than six years. He finally left on a blockading British vessel in June after an exchange of prisoners. He was left at Capetown and, after waiting impatiently there for a passage, finally landed in England in October.

Macquarie forgives the black sheep of Britain

His Excellency was this day pleased to give an entertainment to a number of the Government artificers and labourers, in honour of the day, being St Patrick's, on which occasion true British hospitality displayed itself; and every heart was filled with sentiments of respect and gratitude. - Social note, Sydney, 17 March, 1810.

• Macquarie cohorted with the lower orders, some who bore the convict taint!

His Excellency has also been pleased to appoint Mr John Eyre to be schoolmaster on the establishment of the Colony, and to direct that that he shall immediately proceed to and take charge of the Charity School there ... - Government Order, Sydney, 22 March, 1810.

• Macquarie established the Charity School, Australia's first government-supported 'State' school soon after arriving in NSW. John Eyre (not to be confused with the convict artist) reported to his superior, the Rev. Samuel Marsden.

Free settlers finally show support of Bligh

We ... request you to convene a meeting of the Inhabitants that they may be allowed to address Commodore Bligh, the late Governor and Commander-in-Chief, on the eve of his departure, and to refute, in the most public manner, the false and infamous charges exhibited against the Inhabitants of this Colony by Lieut Colonel George Johnston. - Citizens' letter to William Gore, Provost Marshal, Sydney, 3 April, 1810.

• These loyal citizens were led by John Youl, minister of the church at Ebenezer (now Australia's oldest), on the Hawkesbury, which had opened in 1809. They were infuriated by the claim that Johnson had arrested Bligh and his associates to prevent their massacre by 'the incensed multitude'.

The Rum Corps' ladies are bound for Blighty

The following persons being about to depart the Colony, all claims and demands on any of the said persons are requested respectively to to be presented to themselves for payment; Viz. In His Majesty's ship Hindostan ... Maria Lane, Mary Beckwith, Ann Gill, Elizabeth Cook ... - Public notice, Sydney, April 7, 1810.

• The former convict women of the Rum Corps' men prepared for the journey Home.

The Commander of the Forces cannot allow the 102nd Regiment to depart from this Colony, without thus publicly expressing his highest Approbation of their steady Discipline, Sobriety and orderly good Conduct in Quarters, during the period they have served under his Command ... - General Order, Sydney, 14 April, 1810.

• Lachlan Macquarie farewelled the notorious Rum Corps at last with some kind words steeped in hypocrisy. It should be remembered that that these old chaps had fearlessly obeyed their leaders in the illegal overthrow of Bligh two years earlier.

Porkers' picnic at poor old Phelan's expense

On Wednesday afternoon a man of the name of Phelan fell asleep in the yard of the house he occupied on The Rocks; into which some pigs, having gained admission through the paling and, having torn his nose off, wounded him in several parts of the face. - Sydney Gazette , 7 April, 1810.

• The story does not end there. Agitated neighbours, having hunted the pigs off, had to wake up the rum-soaked Mr Phelan to advise him of his injuries. Soon afterwards, Governor Macquarie banned such porcine frolics, but Mr Phelan continued his unabated.

First Fleeter David Collins dies of stroke, aged 54

By the Cyclops from Hobart we receive the lamentable intelligence of the Death of Lieut Governor Collins, who departed this life suddenly on the evening of the 24th of March, while sitting in his chair, conversing with his surgeon, who had attended him during a short illness of six days. - Government notice, Sydney, 21 April, 1810.

• Collins' untimely death from a stroke at the age of 54 was probably hastened by the vexatious presence of the wandering, unseated Governor William Bligh in Hobart in 1809-10.

Social, sporting and culinary notes

... the ballroom hung round with festoons of flowers, encircling the initials of Mrs Putland and Commodore Bligh in a very neat device ... - Vice-Regal Notes, Sydney, 28 April, 1810.

• Governor Bligh was finally farewelled from Australia, to the unspoken, but unrestrained, relief of Governor Macquarie. Macquarie was not amused that Mary Putland, Bligh's daughter, stayed in NSW .

Any Person going to Sea may be accommodated with Thirty or Forty Pickled Tongues, from One to Two Hundredweight of Tripe, and a few rounds of Beef, all in excellent condition. - J. Gandell, butcher, Bell Row, Sydney, 28 April, 1810.

Deserted from His Majesty's Ship Hindostan, Thomas Cole, Ordinary Seaman, 21 years of age, 5 feet 8 inches high, fair complexion, stout made, brown hair, has a sore on the left foot, by trade a Carpenter, born in Port Jackson ... - Wanted notice, Sydney, 28 April, 1810.

Born in Port Jackson! Could this be the First Fleet child of Elizabeth Cole, a former London prostitute of such consummate bedroom skills that men were known to fight over her?

The Annals of this Country have never been able to record such a series of pleasant and outre pastimes - such Feats of Humour and Fun, so congenial to the temper and to the spirit of Englishmen, as this day has produced ... - Sports Report, 30 April, 1810.

• Our correspondent was permitted some literary abandon: this was the first reported race meeting in Australia. The feature event was won by the local hero, aptly named Parramatta .

Sex bomb widow remarries, hangs around

On Tuesday in the forenoon was married by the Rev Mr Marsden, at Government House, Sydney, His Honour Lieut Governor Maurice Charles O'Connell, to Mrs Putland. - Social note, Sydney, 8 May, 1810.

• The former widow Putland's hatred of Governor Bligh's enemies was the cause of unhappiness for Governor Macquarie. She stormed around the colony, evoking awe with her small, but breathtaking cleavage and diaphanous dresses, her twenty-two year old modesty concealed by lacy pantaloons. Finally, Governor Macquarie was rid of her. But she came back to haunt a future Governor, Sir George Gipps, with extravagant claims on land granted to her father.

The Wentworth family's respectability recognised

His Excellency the Governor has been pleased to appoint D'Arcy Wentworth and Simeon Lord, Esquires, to be Justices of the Peace and Magistrates for Town and District of Sydney, in the County of Cumberland. - Proclamation, Sydney, 19 May, 1810.

• In this historic announcement, Macquarie appointed an ex-convict, Lord, to a high post, demonstrating his belief that an emancipated person was free to pursue any goal. Wentworth was not above suspicion of the criminal taint, either.

Former robber seeks servant for 'genteel family'

WANTED. A Woman of undeniable character as servant in a genteel Family ... application to be made to Mr Wills. - Sydney Gazette , 19 May, 1810.

• Edward Wills, the pompous advertiser, must have forgotten that he was sentenced to death in England for highway robbery just 13 years earlier. In mitigation, Edward was the grandfather of Thomas Wills, one of the founders of Australian Rules football in 1866.

Lad from Lancaster, born for the gallows

Flynn was tried at about 13 years of age, at Lancaster (England ), for robbery of which offence being convicted together with his father, who was his accomplice, the latter was executed, and the son was sentenced to be transported for 14 years. - Court report, Sydney, 23 June, 1810.

• Terence Flynn, then aged about 22, was one of eight men condemned to death by the Bench of Magistrates in Sydney in late May. His conviction was for murder. He was taken from Hobart to Sydney for trial, and returned to Hobart to be hanged. Flynn had been transported in 1800 and continued his wicked ways until he committed his capital offence. Such was the hopelessness of justice and reform in those bleak times.

Dashing officers bring horse racing to Australia

A meeting of Subscribers to the to the Race Course will be held in the Mess Room of Officers of the 73rd Regiment, on Monday next, at Two O'clock. - Notice, Sydney, 2 June, 1810.

• Horse racing was about to begin in Sydney (around Hyde Park), from where it would spread, eventually, like Paterson's Curse, across a continent.

Holiday diversions for society's lower orders

The Whitsunday holidays were kept up on Monday and Thursday last at with great spirit. A cockpit was prepared for the occasion at the upper end of Town, and a number of good battles fought, and on Tuesday the amateurs of bull-baiting were elegantly amused with that very refined diversion, in the course of which, we understand, a good number of useless dogs were killed or crippled and, in the end, that the provoked animal, breaking from his tether, rushed in amid the group of spectators, and had nearly given a tragical termination to the sports of the day. - Social Note, Sydney, 16 June, 1810.

Dearest Betsy, I lost the Bounty , NSW ... now bloody Mary!

In Rio de Janeiro on 11 August, 1810, William Bligh, returning to England from his highly unsuccessful governorship of NSW, wrote this trembling letter to Her Indoors in England ...

My dearest love, Happily I am thus far advanced to meet you and our dear children. I am now well, as is our dearest Mary, altho I have suffered beyond what at present I can describe to you. Providence has ordained certain things which we cannot account for; so it has happened with us. My perfect reliance is that everything is best is my great consolation. In the highest feelings of comfort and pride in bringing her to England, altho I thought she could be under no guidance but my own - my heart devoted to her - in the midst of most parental affections affections and conflicting passions of adoration for so good and admired child, I at the last found what I had least expected - Lieut. Colonel O'Connell commanding the 73rd Regiment had, unknown to me, won her affections. Nothing can exceed the esteem and high character he has. He is likewise Lt. Gov. of the territory - a few days before we sailed when everything was prepared for her reception, and we had even embarked, he then opened the circumstance for me - I gave him a flat denial for I could not believe it - I retired with her, when I found she had approved of his addresses and given her word to him. What will you not, my dear Betsy, feel for my situation at the time, when you will know that nothing I could say had any effect; at last overwhelmed with a loss I could not retrieve, I had only to make the best of it. My consent could only be extorted, for it was not a free gift. However, on the many proofs of the honour, goodness and high character of Colonel O'Connell and his good sense, which he had passed under my own trial I did, like having no alternative, consented to her marriage and gave her away at the ceremony consummated at Government House, under the most public tokens of honour and respect and veneration, the whole colony, except a few malcontents, considering it the finest blessing ever bestowed upon them - every creature devoted to her service by her excellence, within respect and adoration ... they remain persons of the utmost importance to the welfare of the colony and the admiration and respect of Gov. and Mrs Macquarie, who did the honour of the ceremony at government house with an extraordinary degree of pleasure and even adulation ...

The wedding had gone off a treat. The Sydney Gazette (with official approval) felt compelled to burst into verse ...

Strike; Loudly strike the lyric string;

To Bridal Love devote the song;

Let every muse a garland bring

And Joy the festive note prolong!

To P.......d, amiable and fair

Soft as her manners pour the warbled lay; -

Another bolder strain prepare

For brave O'C.......l on his nuptial day!

In Australia's genial climes proclaim

Their love and valour blend their spotless flame

And wreaths of sweetest flowers prepare

For lovely P......d's flowing hair

Apart from its obvious eroticism, this verse is interesting for its early use of the word, 'Australia'. In spite of the widespread rejoicing, Betsy would have considered the loss of Mary far more calamitous than an event Bligh had told her about letter from Timor, dated, 19 August, 1789: My own dear Betsy ... I have lost the Bounty... Mary Putland, as official hostess, had accompanied William Bligh to Sydney in 1806 when he succeeded Philip Gidley King as Governor. Elizabeth (Betsy) refused to come because she was a very poor sailor. Bligh and Mary were accompanied by her husband R.N. Lieut John Putland, who was dying of tuberculosis.

Macquarie brings order to Sydney streetscape

His Excellency the Governor, deeming it expedient and highly necessary for the Improvement and Ornament of the Town of Sydney to enlarge the Streets and Avenues thereof for which Purpose a Party of the Military are now employed at Work, and who are to be paid for their Labour out of the Police Fund. - Public Notice, 11 August, 1810.

• So began Macquarie's grand plan to bring some order to higgledy-piggledy Sydney; streets were widened, paling fences torn down; if anyone's dwelling stood in the way, it was demolished and re-erected elsewhere.

Oh, how they danced 'till the blazing orb of day'

The Ballroom was occupied till about two o'clock when part of the company retired; and those that chose to remain formed into a supper party. After the cloth was removed the rosy deity asserted his pre-eminence, and with the zealous aid of Momus and Apollo chased pale Cynthia down into the western world. The blazing orb of day announced his near approach ... - Social note, Sydney, 16 October, 1810.

• Thus ended the Subscribers Ball during Australia's very first race week, conducted over three racing days at Hyde Park, Sydney. Those present included 'our country friends' from Parramatta and the Hawkesbury. A child was seriously hurt when he ran in front of a horse and Capt John Piper broke his arm when a stray dog caused him to fall from his mount.

The Macquaries' first tour of their fiefdom

His Excellency and Lady, accompanied by a Party of Officers and Gentlemen, left at six o'clock yesterday morning on a visit to the Cow Pasture Plains, to view the herds of wild cattle. - Sydney Gazette , 17 November, 1810.

• The 'wild cattle' were the descendants of seven which had escaped from First Fleet herdsmen. By 1810, their numbers had grown to seventy. The Cow Pastures became part of John Macarthur's grant southwest of Sydney which he called Camden Park.

Governor makes his God-fearing presence felt

All those Government men residing at Sydney, who have obtained the Indulgence of Tickets of Leave to work for themselves, are in future to be mustered every Sunday morning along with the rest of the prisoners, and be marched with them to Church. - Government Notice, 17 November, 1810.

• Macquarie was the last dictator in Australia and, occasionally, he allowed his despotic streak to emerge.

Macquarie drinks a 'bumper' to his new towns

A large Party of Friends dined with us today, consisting in all of 21 Persons, including our own Family. After Dinner I christened the new Townships, drinking a Bumper to the success of each. I gave the name of Windsor to the Town intended to be erected in the District of the Green Hills, in continuation of the present Village, from the similarity of this situation to that of the same name in England; the Township in the Richmond District I have named Richmond , from its beautiful situation, and as corresponding with that of its District; the Township for the Evan or Nepean District I have named Castlereagh in honour of Lord Viscount Castlereagh; of the Nelson District I have named Pitt-Town in honour of the immortal memory of the late great William Pitt, the Minister who originally planned this Colony; and the Township for the Phillip District; on the North or left Bank of the Hawkesbury, I have named Wilberforce in honour of and out of respect to the good and virtuous Wm. Wilberforce Esqr. M.P., a true Patriot and the real Friend of Mankind. Having sufficiently celebrated this auspicious Day of christening the five Towns and Townships, intended to be erected and established for the securityand accommodation of the Settlers and others inhabiting the Cultivated Country, on the Banks of the Rivers Hawkesbury and Nepean; I recommended tot he Gentlemen present to exert their influence with the Settlers in stimulating them to lose no time in removing their Habitations, Flocks and Herds to these Places of safety and security, and thereby fulfil my intentions and plans in establishing them. - Diary of Governor Lachlan Macquarie, touring the Hawkesbury River region, 6 December, 1810 .

Sydney streets renamed, outlying towns laid out

The Governor has accordingly marked out five separate Townships; namely, one for the District of the Green Hills, which he has called Windsor; one for the Richmond Hill District, to be called Richmond; one for the Nelson District, to be called Pitt Town; one for the Phillip District, to be called Wilberforce; and one for the Nepean, or Evan District, called Castlereagh. - Government Notice, 22 December, 1810.

• Macquarie had already renamed the principal streets of Sydney.

False report of wreckage La Perouse's ships

Captain Smith saw several pieces of wreck of a large vessel on this Island, apparently very old and high up on the grass, probably the remains of the ship of the unfortunate De La Perouse . - Shipping notes, Sydney, 5 January, 1811.

• Smith was the skipper of an American whaler. His discovery of the 'La Perouse remains' in southern waters was not taken seriously. Comte Jean La Perouse was commander of two ships which called at Botany Bay at the time of the arrival of the First Fleet. They disappeared and Capt Peter Dillon found evidence in 1826 that they had been wrecked in the New Hebrides.

Rich old emancipist bachelor much lamented

On Friday will be Let by Auction for the Term of Two Years, those very fine Salt Works at Scotland Island, with a good dwelling house and other Requisite buildings attached. - Security of the Renter required. - Real Estate Notice, Sydney, 5 January, 1811.

• Andrew Thompson, late owner of the property, died unmarried the previous October. He had become one of the wealthiest emancipated convicts in NSW, having arrived in the colony 18 years earlier. He left farms, trading ships, an inn and a hugely-profitable wheat property. His death from the results of exposure during the recent floods was much lamented by his fellow settlers on the Hawkesbury.

Mansell's Mistake

Mr W.H. Mansell, having accommodated an Acquaintance with the Loan of Four Volumes of Mavor's Voyages and Travels, requests they will be kind enough to return them, the valuable Work of which they form a part being otherwise of no value. - Sydney Gazette , 12 January, 1811.

• Poor Mr Mansell had very poor business advice. How many ambitious men would travel 20,000km to open a lending library in a penal colony? He inserted many such plaintive advertisements for his rapidly-diminishing collection of books!

Stand up and be counted: a great social event

...a General Muster of the whole of the inhabitants (Civil and Military excepted) shall take place at the several Settlements the following Days ... - Government Notice, Sydney, 19 January, 1811.

• Macquarie's first attempt at a census offered great social occasions, with a mingling of those who had come to NSW free, ticket-of-leavers and full-blooded convicts. It also gave the opportunity to learn how many Currency Lads and Lasses (Australian-born children) had been spawned.

A new, 'invitation only' society flourishes

In the centre of the ballroom were the Royal Initials, beautifully-worked, suspended between festoons of leaves and flowers extending across the room, the north-end of which was covered with a transparent painting (executed by Mr Lewin in a highly-finished style), the subject local, and the design being peculiarly, being the representation of our Native Race in their happy moments of festivity, contrasting in silent admiration their amusements to the recreations of a polished Circle. - Queen's Birthday social note, Sydney, 19 January, 1811.

• The reaction of the Silent Majority, the convicts in their low huts and the sad remnants of the Port Jackson tribe in their scattered gunyahs, to this absolutely breathless society chit-chat is not recorded.

Knightly virgin-grabber hunts melon munchers!

I will pay a reward of Ten Guineas to any person that will give Information so as to prosecute to Conviction the Person or Persons, who on Tuesday or Wednesday night last, robbed my Garden at Vaucluse, of a quantity of Water Melons; and on Thursday night being fired at, left Bags and Bludgeons behind ... - Dire warning, H.B. Hayes, Sydney, 9 February, 1811.

• Sir Henry Hayes, the complainant, was a convict who built the famous Vaucluse House, in Sydney's east. He was sentenced to death in 1800 for kidnapping a wealthy heiress in Ireland and transported two years later. His knightly bad manners earned him punitive sentences to Norfolk Island and Newcastle. He was pardoned and left for Ireland in 1812, probably tired of constant depredations on his vegetable garden.

If they say, 'you've got to go', then do it in style

They conversed together in their last minutes; Hutchinson gave direction to the executioner respecting the adjustment of the apparatus; both made repeated frivolous observations; and as the cart was about to be driven from beneath them, they joined hands, and were launched off in that posture. - Sydney Gazette , 2 March, 1811.

1811/1812/1817: Luddite Riots in Yorkshire, Lancashire and Nottingham.

A true-blue colonial love story from early NSW

The Commander of the Forces is pleased to grant Capt John Piper, of the 102nd Regiment (previously the NSW Corps), a further Leave of Absence to remain in this Colony, until the first favourable Opportunity of rejoining his Corps in England. - T.S. Cleaveland, Acting Major of Brigade, Sydney, 30 March, 1811.

• Piper, a confidante of Macquarie, had been in the colony since 1792 and had no desire to return to England. He had two children by Mary Shears, whom he had met as the 15-year-old daughter of a convict, and growing business interests. He succumbed to pressure and sailed home in September, 1811. But he returned to NSW to live out his life with Mary.

Captain Piper's mind was elsewhere

A Trotting Match for 50 guineas and a Dinner, was on Wednesday last decided between Mr Birch's pony, Tickle Toby, and Capt. Piper's mare, Miss Kitty ... - Sporting Notes, Sydney, 30 March, 1811.

• Yes, Capt Piper had far more pressing commitments in Sydney. Sadly, his mare lost.

Shackled Muslim flees detention, joins community

Sayd, a Moorman, who effected his escape from the Governor Hunter, bound to Newcastle, while she was windbound in Broken Bay, by jumping overboard in the night (although in double irons) and swimming on shore. - Wanted notice, Sydney Gazette , 30 March, 1811.

Thomas Reibey leaves very desirable widow

On Friday evening died at his house in Macquarie Place, Mr Thomas Reibey, after a severe indisposition of several months, the origin of which he attributed to a coup-de-soleil when in India ... - Sydney Gazette , 6 April, 1811.

• Thomas Reibey, a seaman, became smitten with the 15-year-old Mary Haydock, transported on the Royal Admiral in 1792 for horse theft. Some historians have suggested he was a member of the ship's crew, but others believe he may have met her in Sydney. He returned to Sydney, married her and they became a formidable business partnership. She expanded their business while caring for their seven children.

Macquarie's trust

The Trustees of the Police Fund in an Account Current with D'Arcy Wentworth, Treasurer ... - Statement of Accounts, Sydney, 20 April, 1811.

• Only in Macquarie's Australia would 4300 pounds of the Police Fund and Female Orphan Institution be entrusted to a gentleman acquitted, narrowly, of highway robbery in England as a young man!

Cripes! Lenient sentence, they said, so he went bush

Edward Edwards, a Gentleman's servant ... was sentenced by the Bench to be publicly whipped through the streets at a cart's tail ... - Court Report, Sydney, 27 April, 1811.

• Edwards confessed to systematically robbing his master. The Bench thought the sentence lenient, but considered it would be a warning to others. Then he was dragged off to serve twelve months' hard labour in the coal mines at Newcastle from where, sensibly, he disappeared.

Ships from Europe were bringing peaches, pears

On sale, at Furber's Nursery and Orchard at Kissing Point, the following trees carefully reared, and all warranted sound and healthy: Black Newington and Bengal bearing peach trees. - Advertisement, Sydney Gazette , 4 May, 1811.

Saint Lachlan Macquarie bans Sunday drives

... no Person whatever shall in future travel with or drive, any Car, Cart or Waggon, on Sundays, in any part of this Territory, in case of some Particularly and very Pressing Necessity, the same being a violation of that sacred Command which prescribes the Sabbath as a Day of Rest, not only to Man but to all other Animals. ... - General Order, Sydney, 18 May, 1811.

STOP PRESS! Wealthy Edward Wills' widow snapped up

DIED. At his house in George St, on Tuesday night the 14th inst., Mr Edward Wills, after a painful illness of nearly three months duration in his 33rd year ... - Sydney Gazette , 18 May, 1811.

• Edward Wills, an emancipist, had become one of Sydney's leading merchants and partner of Thomas Reibey, who died the month before. His widow, Sarah, married George Howe, printer of the Sydney Gazette , in October, 1812.

Beaut triangle: Man murders wife's convict lover

... John Shea, private soldier, was indicted for the wilful murder of William Mahar, a prisoner, at Norfolk Island on 31st of December last. - Court report, Sydney, 1 June, 1811.

• Alas, the eternal triangle. Shea shot Mahar from close range with his Government-issued musket outside the gaol, from which Mahar had several free hours to continue his dalliance with Mrs Shea over many months. Shea was sentenced to death, his body to be 'dissected and anatomised'.

Poet laureate bursts into song, shut up by discerning critic

But, when Britannia's sons came forth, to brave

The dreary Perils of the length'ning Wave;

When her bold Barks, with swelling Sails unfurl'd,

Traced these rude Coasts, and hail'd a new-found World. - Convict poet laureate Michael Massey Robinson, Sydney, 4 June, 1811.

• Robinson, an educated man transported for blackmail in 1798, ingratiated himself with Lachlan Macquarie, who had him compose a patriotic poem for each King's Birthday. Governor Sir Thomas Brisbane, on his arrival in 1821, read his verse and summarily dismissed him.

Man beats horse

On Wednesday, a bet was made between Captain Glenholme and Lieutenant Raymond, the former Gentleman to ride 200 yards on the Race Course, while the latter was to run 100; which was won by Mr Raymond. - Sporting note, Sydney, 27 July, 1811.

Convict Bridget unmasked over marriage fraud

Bridget Brien, a prisoner (convict), was on Saturday before last brought before a Bench of Magistrates at Windsor, charged with leaving her husband and refusing to live with him. The principal reason she assigned for this conduct was that she been married in Ireland, and believed her first and only lawful husband now to be living. - Court Report, Sydney, 3 August, 1811.

• The Bench took the view that Bridget was practising known wickedness among some convict women of marrying a free settler, freeing herself of convict labour obligations to become a dutiful housewife, then 'discovering' her lawful husband was alive (and uncontactable) 20,000km away. The unhappy new bride then felt compelled to leave her husband and roam free. Bridget's reward was indefinite hard labour at the Governor's pleasure.

Bloody whale gets its comeuppance in Rose Bay

This evening, a black whale came into the Harbour, and when near Bennelong's Point, was perceived from the Cato, whose boats immediately pursued and killed it. As soon as it was struck, it made towards the Heads; but turning into Rose Bay, was there secured and towed alongside the ship. - Sydney Gazette , 3 August, 1811.

Man kills Marsden's bullock, sentenced to death

Hugh Devlyn, of Richmond, settler, was then put to the bar and and indicted on a charge of having killed a bullock, value 10 pounds, with intent to steal the carcass thereof, the property of the Rev. Mr Samuel Marsden, at Windsor, on Thursday the 6th of June. - Court Report, Sydney, 24 August, 1811.

• Devlyn was found guilty and sentenced to death, commuted next day by Lachlan Macquarie to hard labour for the term of his natural life. The lower orders were not to take Mr Marsden lightly.

Inside info on the frustrations of Matthew Flinders

On 11 October, 1811, Captain William Kent , who brought the Investigator home from Sydney in 1805 while Matthew Flinders languished under house arrest on Mauritius, wrote to Flinders at his lodgings in Nassau Street, Soho, London. Kent was then in command of HMS Agincourt , stationed in the Tagus River estuary in Portugal. It was a gossipy, dangerous letter from the old sea dog ...

My Dear Friend, (followed by the usual Regency salutations and protestations of undying affection) A News Paper informed me of your return to England, and the Admiralty List pointed out your obtaining the Post Rank on the 7th of May, 1810. This was something, though but a small compensation, for unjust detention in the Isle of France (Mauritius), and all your consequent sufferings: however, it appears to be as far as Mr Yorke* could go, having so recently been placed at the head of the Admiralty. With other First Lords your Post-Captain promotion rested, and their neglect, under your peculiar circumstances, was the height of injustice. A melancholy proof of our devoted Service being in the hands of a set of Borough-Mongers. Can it be possible the Admiralty is so devoid of consideration as to expect you to sit down, in so expensive a place as London, to put together your Voyage for Publication without any allowance from Government? Why, my good Friend, it is more than probable, any advantage that may arise to you from such a Work, will not cover above half your expenses; and even of that (by the account you give me) you have no certainty. I conjure you give the subject your serious attention, and do not suffer yourself to be involved in debt to gratify persons who seem to have no feeling. The allowance of a Maritime Surveyor (a Guinea P. Day) is the smallest sum that ought to be offered to you, whilst so employ'd. If you explain your situation to our worthy and considerate Friend Sir Joseph (Banks) I am persuaded he will endeavour to obtain justice.** The first information I had of Samuel's misfortune was from Commodore Owen on my joining the Agincourt in the Downes in 1808, who spoke of him in the handsomest manner. As your Brother knew my address in Town, it is to be regretted his not writing me as soon as Charges were exhibited against him; for had he done so, I wou'd have gone to Sheerness, where it is likely I could have been useful, either in softening the Sentence, or getting Captain Jones (who was 3d Lieutenant of the Melampus when I was first) to withdraw the Charge. This, however, was unknown to poor Samuel. You may be sure I will at all times have great pleasure in complying with any wish of yours, and should we be vacant a Lieutenant an immediate application shall be made by me for Samuel's appointment to the Agincourt: you must however be aware, should a vacancy happen whilst under a Commander-in-Chief, as at this place, he of course will be anxious to fill it with one of his young followers. I offer my sincere regard to your Brother, and assure him I will ever bear him in mind. If you are in London at Christmas I should like you to see my dear little Boy, and to hear your opinion of his progress in respect to Education: he is at present at an Academy in Canterbury, but will be in Town at the Vacation: you will find him at his Aunt's at No 6 Bridge Road, Lambeth. My beloved Girls are in the West of England; Eliza at my brother's in the Royal Hospital, Plymouth, and Mary at a Boarding-School in Ivy Bridge. I have no conception when it is likely I shall be in England. At my return, I hope to have the pleasure of seeing you. Offer my respectful Compliments to Sir Joseph Banks. If you walk into the Church on Paddington Green you will see the Monument of my ever-to-be lamented Eliza (Kent's wife who died in 1810), who loved you with the Affection of a Sister. Adieu my valued Friend. Say every thing kind for me to your good Lady. May you long enjoy that happiness, the Almighty, in his wisdom, has thought proper to retire from me, is the fervent Prayer of Your most Affectionate Friend, William Kent. P.S. Offer my best Compliments to Messrs Brown and Bawer (Ferdinand Bauer) . Is our poor friend Waterhouse still living? Or has pernicious Grog washed him to death? What a failing!

• What a failing, indeed! Henry Waterhouse, aged 42, a naval colleague from NSW was dead within a year (England, 17 July, 1812), Flinders died, aged 40, (England, 18 July, 1814). And Kent? He didn't return. He died of natural causes at sea off Toulon, France, on 29 August, 1812. But he lived to the sober old age of 61! Samuel Flinders' 'misfortune' was that he refused to give the Naval Board his journals from the Investigator . His name was removed from the list of lieutenants.

* Charles Philip Yorke, First Lord of the Admiralty after whom Flinders named Yorke Peninsula (SA) during his 1801-03 voyage.

** Sir Joseph Banks intervened and Flinders was given a Navy loan of $200 against future sales of his book.

First Aussie to get government job!

His Excellency the Governor has been pleased to appoint William Charles Wentworth Esq. to act as (acting) Provost Marshall in the Territory of New South Wales ... - Government Notice, Sydney, 26 October, 1811.

• At the age of 21, William Charles won his first government position, not without the help of his father, D'Arcy, who was Macquarie's personal physician. He was the first native-born Australian to score a government job.

Rum Hospital commences under imaginative deal

The first stone of the General Hospital that has commenced building was laid by His Excellency the Governor and Commander in Chief on Wednesday last .- Sydney Gazette , 2 November, 1811.

• The 'Rum Hospital' was built by D'Arcy Wentworth, Garnham Blaxcell and Alexander Riley (and 20 convicts) for no cost to the government in return for the right to import 205,000 litres of spirits. It was completed in 1816.

Old Rum Corps rogues can stay

... such Men of the 102nd Regiment as have served Twenty years and upward, but are still fit for Garrison Duty, and who, from having large Families, are extremely anxious to remain in New South Wales ... - General Order, 2 November, 1811.

• Some old soldiers from the Rum Corps were permitted to stay in NSW and form a Veteran Company attached to the 73rd Regiment.

Cursed man's awful death!

On Wednesday about noon, William Howarth, of Castlereagh St. was suddenly seized at the lower end of Pitt St. with an emission of blood from the stomach and died suddenly. The same day, an Inquest was taken whose verdict was Death by the Visitation of God. - Coroner's Report, Sydney, 2 November, 1811.

• Howarth's family, it was whispered darkly, was cursed. His nephew died from snake bite in 1805; the nephew's mother wandered into the bush in 1805, never to be seen again; her husband drowned in the Hawkesbury floods in 1808; and William Howarth was not allowed to rest after death; a servant girl, Mary McDonnaugh, interrupted his funeral with 'vile imprecations' for which she was given three months' gaol.

Nobbled by a nulla nulla

Last Thursday, Mr Robert Luttrill died of a blow in the head with a nulla nulla inflicted by a native a fortnight before. - Sydney Gazette , 2 November, 1811.

• The Coroner found that Luttrill had been interfering with aboriginal women, and advised the anxious tribespeople they need not fear retribution. Future settlers were apt to forget such arrangements.

Vice-regal summer cruise becomes a sea drama

In November-December, 1811, Governor Lachlan Macquarie, his wife, Elizabeth, and a small party ('our Family'), set out on his first visit to Van Diemens Land. They sailed in the doughty colonial navy ship, Lady Nelson, which had been rejected by the unfortunate Matthew Flinders eight years earlier as too slow. The Macquaries' trip from Sydney to Hobart eventually took three weeks! But it wasn't Lady Nelson's fault. They were hounded by the most appalling weather, dead calms interspersed with howling gales. Extracts from Lachlan Macquarie's personal diary tell the tale ... and give an insight into the trials of an early Australian Governor's Lady ...

4 November, 1811 - At 6 a.m. Left Government House at Sydney accompanied by Mrs. Macquarie, Capt. Antill, Major of Brigade, Lieut. Maclaine, Aide de Camp, and Mr. James Meehan, Acting Surveyor- General, and proceeded in the Government Barge, Elizabeth, to embark on board His Majesty's colonial brig Lady Nelson, commanded by Mr Bryan Overand; Lieut. Governor O'Connell and several other friends accompanying us from

Government House to the wharf, where we took leave of all of them, excepting Secretary (John) Campbell and Dr William Redfern, who accompanied us on board the Nelson, then lying at anchor near the South Head, about six miles down the Harbour. We reached and got on board the Nelson at 7 o'clock and found our accommodation clean, neat and comfortable; all which, as well as the laying in Provisions and everything necessary for the Voyage, was arranged and directed by Mrs. Macquarie, and who deserves great praise for the taste and judgment she has evinced on this occasion.

The Wind and Tide being both against our turning out of Port Jackson to Sea clear of the Heads, we were obliged to remain at Anchor till half past Ten till the Tide of Ebb commenced, when we weighed anchor and began Turning out of the Heads, which it required a great many Tacks to accomplish. At Half past 11 o'clock, some time after we had Breakfasted, Secretary Campbell and Dr. Redfern took their leave of us, as did Mr. (Isaac) Nichols the Principal Superintendent of Convicts, who had also attended us from Sydney in his own Boat on board the Lady Nelson.

By one o'clock we had completely cleared the Heads and got out to Sea, steering on Course about North East, so as to get a good offing before dark; the wind being about North by East and blowing a fine, fresh Breeze, but with a considerable swell and Head Sea, which occasioned much motion -- and made Mrs M. and all of us very Sea-Sick. We sat down to Dinner at 5 p.m., but none of us were much disposed to eat. The Wind continued fair for us till Sunset, when it came round more to the Eastward. It blew pretty fresh all night, with a great swell and Head Sea, which made the Vessel Roll and Pitch very much, and made us all very Sick.

5 November, 1811 - At 7 o'clock this morning we were nearly abreast of Jervis Bay, about 80 miles to the Southward of Port Jackson; and the Wind being at this time blowing directly against us from the Southward we determined to put in to Jervis Bay, and there remain at anchor for a change of Wind. We accordingly made directly for the Land, and anchored in Jervis Bay at 1 p.m. under the Lee of Bowen Island, in six fathom water, and most excellent safe anchorage within a mile or three quarters of a mile of the western shore of Bowen Island. This is a noble Capacious Bay, not less than Fifteen miles deep from the Entrance to its Head, and about 12 miles across from the Northern to the Southern Shore of it in the Broadest part. The Entrance to it is perfectly safe and is formed on the North by a very high Rocky Cliff or Head Land (resembling the North Head of Port Jackson) and Bowen Island on the South, the Channel between being nearly two miles across and very deep water close to either Shore. Bowen Island is separated from the Southern shore by a very narrow channel or Strait of not more than a quarter of a mile Broad with a reef of Rocks all the way across and over which a heavy surf breaks constantly, so as to prevent even small Boats passing through this Channel with any safety. Bowen Island is about three quarters of a mile long from North to South, rises to a considerable height towards the Centre, is verdant, and covered with Honey-Suckle and other smaller Trees and Shrubs. There is also a small Lagoon of very good fresh water on the west side of it very near the Beach; and upon the whole it may be called a very pretty Island. But tho' there is tolerable good verdure, the Soil is sandy and bad.

As we were all very Sea Sick during the morning, we did not breakfast until after we had anchored in Jervis Bay at a late Hour in the Day. Between 3 and 4 o'clock we went on shore on Bowen Island, and walked on it for some time. From the Highest part of it we had a fine extensive view of the Sea on one hand and of the Bay on the other, and of the distant Mountains inland. The Pigeon House an immense, High, Prominent Hill to the Southward, and Hat-Hill to the Northward of Jervis Bay, we could see very distinctly. After remaining for about an hour on Bowen Island, we crossed to the South shore of the Main Land in Jervis Bay, and walked there for another Hour, along the Sea Shore, Picking a few Shells and Pebbles as we went.

Here we saw nothing like runs or Springs of Fresh Water, altho' we conclude there must be some further inland, as a great number of Natives inhabit this part of the Bay, having seen many of them at a distance in the course of the day. The first we saw were three men on Bowen Island as we were passing in through the Entrance into the Bay; they then Hollooed to us, and afterwards, when anchored, came off to us in their Canoes with Fish, which they willingly bartered for Biscuit and Tobacco. They were very stout, well-made good-looking men, and seemed perfectly at their ease and void of fear. We remained on shore till sunset and then returned to the Vessel, dining immediately after coming on board. Mr. Overand and the Sailors caught a number of young Sharks during the Day, this Bay abounding in them and a great variety of good Fish. The Soil on the main land, as far as we walked along shore, is sandy and barren, but the woods are very close and thick a little way from the Beach.

Thursday, 7 November, 1811 - At 5 o'clock this morning, the Wind being fair, we weighed anchor from Jervis Bay and stood out to Sea with a very light Breeze at N. East; but the wind soon died away entirely after we had got clear of the Heads of the Bay, and we remained becalmed till 10 o'clock; when the Sea Breeze set in, and enabled us to steer our course, S.S. West, along shore, being distant from it about 12 miles at Noon, when we were abreast of the Pigeon House, an immense Conical Peak a considerable distance inland. At Noon the Breeze freshened up a little, and we were going 3 1/2 Knots. At 10 p.m. we were abreast of Mount Dromedary, with a fine smart fair Breeze of Wind, and going at the rate of 6 1/2 Knots an hour.

Friday, 8 November, 1811 - At Sunrise we were abreast of Twofold Bay, and at Noon we were abreast of Cape Howe in Latd. 37° 30', forming the North Headland of the Entrance into Bass Strait. The Wind continues perfectly fair, and we are going 6 1/2 Knots, with very little motion.

Saturday, 9 November, 1811- We have had a very good run all Night and a smart Breeze till 8 o'clock this morning when the Wind died away and a Calm ensued. No Land in Sight but we hope to see Cape Barren, in the Strait, as soon as the Sea Breeze sets in, as we have run 120 miles since 12 o'clock yesterday by our reckoning. The Calm continued till about 3 o'clock this afternoon, when a fresh Breeze at S. West sprang up and continued to freshen till Sunset, at which time it came on to blow a very smart Gale of Wind, with a high Sea running. The Gale increased considerably between 8 and 9 o'clock and continued to blow most violently during the whole Night, and obliged us to lie to, not being able to carry any Sail, the vessel having great motion and labouring excessively.

Sunday, 10 November, 1811 - The Gale continued all this day and Night to blow as violent as ever, with a tremendous high Sea, but the Vessel being tight and sound, well found and well-manned, she stands out the Gale delightfully and is certainly the best and safest Sea-Boat I ever sailed in. Mr. Overand the Commander and his Crew are extremely attentive and I have every reason to be highly pleased with their conduct.

Monday, 11 November, 1811 - We have passed two most uncomfortable Days and Nights and the Gale still continues to rage with unabated violence. The Sea also continues as high as ever, very short and cross, which occasions the Vessel to labour excessively; she however makes good weather of it, is quite dry, and never ships any Seas or Water. We are unable to have any regular Cooking and are obliged to eat on the Cabin Floor...

Tuesday, 12 November, 1811 - It blew a perfect Storm all last Night, and was by far the most violent we have experienced since the commencement of the Gale; it blowing much stronger and with a very tremendous high Sea. Our tight little Bark however Swam on the top of those terrific Billows like a Feather and surmounted all the dangers that threatened her. There were several severe hail showers fell in the course of last Night and this forenoon, and the Weather is extremely cold, altho' this is the Summer Season.

At Noon this Day it was a complete Storm, nor was there the least appearance of the Gale abating; so that we are still obliged to continue laying to, there being an immense Sea. At 3 p.m. the Sky cleared up and it began to moderate a little. At 4 p.m. the Sea was considerably fallen and by 5 p.m. the Gale had abated very much indeed; and at 6 p.m. the weather was so moderate that we were able once more to carry Sail on our little tight Bark -- steering westerly so as to close in again with the Land, from which we had drifted very much whilst lying about for the last three days.

Wednesday, 13 November, 1811 - We have had a fine moderate Night and the Gale, thank God! is entirely over without our sustaining any accident whatever. My poor dear Elizabeth has suffered a great deal from Sea Sickness during the Storm and from the violent motion of the Vessel; but she makes a most excellent brave Sailor, never expressing the least fear or apprehension of danger during the whole Storm; which was enough to alarm most Landsmen in so very small a Vessel; Mr. Overand himself confessing it to be one of the worst and most violent Gales he he ever experienced ... we assembled sociably to a very comfortable Breakfast in our own little snug Cabin this morning for the first time these four days past -- all in good health. At Noon our Latitude by Observation was 40° 37 ' 8' South; our Course W.S.West, the Wind being nearly West. We suppose ourselves to be at least 100 miles to the Eastward of Cape Barren in the mouth of Bass Strait, being the nearest Land to us at present. At 5 p.m. The Wind shifted round to the West N. West, blowing a very fine fresh Breeze, and which enabled us to steer our Course South West by South, going at the rate of 6 Knots an hour. By 10 p.m. The Breeze freshened considerably and enabled us to steer our Course for Cape Pillar quite free, going 8 Knots an hour.

Thursday, 14 November, 1811 - We have had a very fine run all last Night, and at 8 this morning we had ran down 120 miles of our Voyage since yesterday Noon. At Noon this day we were in Latd. 41° 57' by Observation and abreast of St. Patricks Head on Van Diemens Land; but the weather being at this time very dark and hazy no Land can be seen, tho' we must be pretty near it.

At 10 minutes past 1 o'clock Land was clearly seen from the Deck, distant about 12 Leagues or 36 miles, and supposed to be St. Patrick's Head on Van Diemens Land ... At 5 p.m. The wind unfortunately suddenly veered round to the westward, blowing a smart gale, which obliged us to stand off again from the Land and shortly afterwards to lie to during the remainder of the Night, a very high Sea rising with the Gale, which made the Vessel labour very much, and consequently rendered the Night uncomfortable for all of us.

Friday, 15 November, 1811 - The Gale continues unabated this morning blowing hard at South West with a heavy Sea, and still laying to. At Noon we were in Latd. 42° 23' South, by observation, but no Land in Sight. At 7 p.m. The Gale began to abate and the wind shifted to the North, which enabled (us) to make sail and steer our course S. West. The wind was irregular during the Night and frequently bordering on a Calm.

Saturday, 16 November, 1811 - The Wind was still fair this morning, and enabled us to steer directly West by South in for the Land, which we reckon not to be more than 30 or 40 miles from us at 8 this morning. At Noon it became very cloudy and hazy and prevented our having a good observation, but by the one taken we were in Latd. 43°. No Land was to be seen which induce to believe that a current has driven us farther the the Eastward than we imagined. At one o'clock p.m. it came on a heavy Rain and Calm. At 4 p.m. A light Breeze at S.East sprung up and the Haze clearing a little about half an Hour afterwards, we got sight of Cape Pillar, distant 7 or 8 miles on our Larboard Bow. This Headland we hoped and expected to double in about an hour; but just as we got within four mile of the Cape, the Wind shifted suddenly round to the South West, blowing a smart gale with a high Sea running, which obliged us to abandon the intention of doubling Cape Pillar this Night. It was consequently determined on to steer back along the Land to the Northward, so as, if possible, to get in to Oyster Bay then within about 35 miles to the Northward of us. This we had nearly effected, having reached to within half an hour's run of the anchoring Place, when the Gale became so violent with a terrible Sea running, that it was quite impossible any longer to carry sail to it. We accordingly stood out again to Sea between 12 and 1 o'clock at Night and lay to the remainder of the Night during which it blew a perfect storm with a tremendous high Sea.

Sunday, 17 November, 1811 - The Gale continued to blow the whole of this day with unabated violence, with a heavy high Sea running, which occasioned the Vessel to labour excessively, but still dry and making excellent weather of it. At 10 a.m. it blew a tempest, and we were about 6 or 7 miles distant from Oyster Island still lying to, and drifting slowly to the Eastward. After Breakfast Capt. Antill read Prayer to us. At 5 p.m. Oyster Island was nearly out of Sight and the Gale continues as violent as ever.

Monday, 18 November, 1811- Fortunately for us, the Gale began to abate between 1 and 2 o'clock this morning, and at 4 we were able once more to carry Sail. At 9 a.m. we were close abreast (within 4 miles) of Scouten's Islands, and within sight of Oyster Island, distant about 12 miles, steering our course South by West, with a light Breeze at East. At Noon our Latd. was 42° 26' South, the Breeze very light and consequently creeping very slowly through the water, about 2 Knots an hour. At 5 p.m. we were immediately abreast of Oyster Island, and in sight once more of Cape Pillar, distant 30 miles. Steering South, the Wind East , blowing a light Breeze only but wafting us along at the rate of 4 Knots an hour. At 12 o'clock at Night, the Breeze having freshened up, we had doubled Cape Pillar, and were standing for Cape Basaltes and Betsy's Island, in hopes of entering the River Derwent by Day-break.

Tuesday, 19 November, 1811 - The Wind having shifted to the North West at 2 this morning, our proceeding farther up the River was rendered impracticable and therefore we ran down for Adventure Bay in Bruny Island, where we anchored in 16 Fathom water within a quarter mile of the S.E. shore at 9 o'clock this morning. At 1 p.m. seeing no appearance of a change of wind, Mrs. M. and myself, accompanied by our Party and Mr Overand went on shore to take a walk, and returned again on board at 1/ 2 past 3 p.m. with a Cask of Fresh Water from a fine Lagoon near the Beach, some grass for the sheep and goats, and a quantity of Mussels with (which) the Rocks abound. The island is mountainous and woody but the Soil is bad .

Wednesday, 20 November, 1811 - The Wind continuing contrary, and blowing hard at W.N.West, we were obliged to remain all this day at Anchor in Adventure Bay.

Thursday, 21 November, 1811 - There being some appearance of a fair wind this morning at Day-break, we weighed anchor and made sail out of Adventure Bay at 1/2 past 5 o'clock, but soon afterwards the Wind returned to its old Quarter of N.West, and we were obliged to work out of the Bay. By 10 o'clock we had doubled Cape Frederick Henry, but the wind at this time blew very fresh and in short sudden Squalls, so that we did not make much progress in working up to get into the Derwent River. We persevered, however, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. in hopes of getting into the River but without accomplishing our object tho' within 3 miles of the entrance of the River. At 3 p.m. We bore away for Frederick Henry Bay, and at 4 p.m. anchored there close to the N.East side of Betsy's Island about 14 miles from Hobart Town.

Friday, 22 November, 1811 - The Wind still continuing contrary and blowing hard at N. West with a heavy rolling Sea, it was deemed necessary to change our Berth from Betsy's Island, and to remove farther up Frederick Henry Bay to a more secure anchorage. We accordingly weighed anchor at 1/2 past six o'clock this morning, and at 1/2 past 9 a.m. anchored in a small Cove about 10 miles from our last anchorage within about half a mile of the Shore, on the S.West of the Bay; where a narrow neck of Land of 3 quarters of a mile separates this from Ralph's Bay, and which last communicates with the River Derwent; our present anchorage being only 7 or 8 miles distant from the Settlement of Hobart Town.

At 11 a.m. I sent off Mr. Meehan, the Surveyor, to proceed overland to Hobart Town to apprise the Commandant of my being here, and desiring him to send down Boats immediately to Ralph's Bay to convey ourselves and Baggage to the Settlement.

At 10 p.m. Capt. Murray of the 73d Regt. and Comdt. of Hobart Town came on board the Lady Nelson to wait on me, being accompanied by Mr. Meehan the Surveyor, and having brought the Government Barge down to Ralph's Bay for conveying us up to the Settlement tomorrow morning; it being now too late to leave the Vessel this Night.

Saturday, 23 November, 1811 - At 1/2 past 6 o'clock this morning Mrs. Macquarie and myself, accompanied by Capt. Murray (who slept on board the Nelson last night) and the three Gentlemen of our Family, left the Lady Nelson in her Boat, which landed us in the adjoining Bay or Cove, about two miles N.West of our anchorage; and from whence we walked across the neck of Land which divides Frederick Henry Bay from Ralph's Bay, to Mr. Stanfield's Farm in the District of Clarence Plains on the latter Bay, where Capt. Murray had his elegant Government Barge ready waiting to receive us, our Baggage having been sent thither the preceding Evening. The place the Boat was at is about three miles by Land from the Bay we landed at this morning from the Lady Nelson. We left Stanfield's Farm at 20 minutes past 8 a.m. in Capt. Murray's Barge (the Derwent), and at 11 a.m. we landed at Hobart Town, close under the Government House, after a very pleasant Row of ten miles from Ralph's Bay and up the River Derwent; the lofty beautiful Hilly Banks of which are extremely grand and picturesque, the Breadth of the River being nowhere less than two miles all the way up to the Town. As we approached the Town, the Favorite, Colonial Brig, Capt. Fisk, fired a Salute and cheered us as we passed, and on my landing a salute was fired from the Guns on the Parade near the Government House; a great concourse of People being assembled on the occasion near the Landing Place, cheered us also as we passed. Capt. Murray conducted us to a very pretty little Cottage of his own to take up our residence in, the Government House being much out of repair. In this neat cottage we took a hearty Breakfast at 12 o'clock. I left orders with Mr. Overand to bring up the Lady Nelson to Hobart Town as soon as the Wind changed sufficiently to enable him to do so, leaving some of our Servants and heavy Baggage to come up to Town in her.

I issued General Orders to announce my arrival to inspect this Settlement and also my intention of visiting and inspecting the several Farms in it in the course of the ensuing week. I then dressed and went out to take a walk with Mrs. Macquarie through the Town before Dinner. We walked in the Government Garden, and afterwards on the Hill intended to build the new Barracks on.

Capt. Murray, Lieuts. Gunning and Campbell, and Asst. Surgeon Dermott of the 73d. Regt. besides our own family, dined with us today, and in the Evening the Town was very handsomely illuminated, and large bonfires were made by the Troops, the free Inhabitants, and Convicts, in compliment to my arrival at this Settlement. Some of the Houses were very fancifully and prettily illuminated, and the Inhabitants and Troops and Convicts continued singing and dancing around their bonfires to a late hour. The Favorite Brig was also very beautifully illuminated.

• Macquarie used the term 'bone-fires' to describe the celebratory conflagrations, but the editor decided (Van Diemens Land being what it was in the old days ) to use 'bonfires' as a matter of taste.

A convict girl's mystery apology

I, Mary Clierey, do hereby acknowledge that I have, without any Provocation whatsoever, broke the Peace against Mr. William Kelly, who in Consideration of my Sorrow for having so done, has been kind enough to overlook the same. - Public Apology, Sydney, 23 November, 1811.

Got off lightly?

Thomas Camel, a labouring servant of the Crown, was accused of having committed a vile and infamous assault upon a girl eight years of age ... - Court report, Sydney, 23 November, 1811.

• Camel was sentenced to be pilloried for an hour in the Sydney market place, after which he was cast into the coal mines at Newcastle for three years. Such sentences appear lenient, considering the times.

An aspect too good for convicts!

The grand view, and noble and picturesque landscape that presented themselves on our first coming in sight of Launceston and three rivers and fertile plains and lofty mountains by which they are bounded, were highly gratifying and truly sublime; and equal in point of beauty to anything I have ever seen in any country. - Governor Macquarie's journal, 8 December, 1811.

• This was the first of two visits Macquarie made to Van Diemens Land.

1812: War of 1812 between Britain and the US begins when the Americans declare war in June, 1812 over oppressive British maritime tactics against American commerce during the Napoleonic Wars. The war ends inconclusively 1814 (after the British occupy Washington.)

 

A slow death and agonising death

On Sunday last a young man a young man of the name of James Martin, who had been for some time in the service of Robert Campbell, Esq. junior, unfortunately received a kick from a horse, which terminated his existence on Wednesday, during which interval he suffered extreme anguish. - Sydney Gazette , 25 October, 1812.

Convict girls 'prostitutes rather than servants'

In the distribution of female convicts great abuses have formerly prevailed; they were indiscriminately given to such inhabitants who demanded them, and in general were received rather as prostitutes than as servants; and so far from being induced to reform themselves, the disgraceful manner in which they were disposed of operated as a general encouragement to depravity of manners. Upon the arrival of Governor Bligh, two-thirds of the children annually born within the Colony were illegitimate. Marriages have latterly become more frequent, consequently prostitution is stated to have been less prevalent; and Governor Macquarie is directing his endeavours, under order from the Government here, 'to keep the female convicts separate until they can be properly distributed among the inhabitants, in such a manner as they may best derive the habits of industry and good character'. He further states in his dispatch, dated April 30, 1810, that the situation in the Colony requires that as many male convicts as possible should be sent thither, the prosperity of the country depending on their numbers; whilst, on the contrary, female convicts are as great a drawback as the others are beneficial. To this observation, Your Committee feel they cannot accede; they are aware that the women sent out are of the most abandoned description, and that in many instances they are likely to whet and encourage the vices of the men, whilst but a small proportion of them will make any step towards reformation; but yet, with all their vices, such women as these were the mothers of a great part of the inhabitants now existing in the Colony, and from this stock only can a reasonable hope be held out of a rapid increase to the population; upon which increase, here as in all infant colonies, its growing prosperity in great measure depends. Let it be remembered, too, how much misery and vice are likely to prevail in a society in which women bear no proportion to the men; in the Colony at present, the number of men compared to women as as two to one; to this, in great measure the prevalence of prostitution is reasonably to be attributed; but increase that proportion, and the temptation to abandoned vices will be increased, and the hopes of establishing feelings of decency and morality amongst the lower classes will be still farther removed . - Report of the Select Committee on Transportation, London, 1812.

1812: British participation in the slave trade banned by Act of Parliament.

Buffoon arrives from England, moves to Hobart

At one o'clock on Monday last His Honour Lieut Governor Davey landed at the Government Wharf, and was saluted with 13 guns from the Dawes Battery. His Honour was conducted by an Officer of His Excellency the Governor's Staff to Government House where he was received by His Excellency in a manner suited to his Rank. - Government notice, 31 October, 1812.

• Och, puir Lachlan Macquarie! Thomas Davey lingered in Sydney for three months before taking up his position as Lieut Governor of Van Diemens Land, allowing the Governor to observe 'an extraordinary degree of frivolity and low Buffoonery'. He continued to conduct much of his business in Hobart in low taverns.

1812: Henry Bell's Comet, carrying passengers on the Clyde, Scotland, becomes first commercial steam-driven vessel.

Blue Mountains finally conquered

This country will, I have no doubt, be a great acquisition to this Colony and no difficulty in making a good road to it ... in case of invasion, it will be a safe retreat for the inhabitants (of the colony) with their families ... - Explorer William Lawson's journal, Blue Mountains, NSW, 31 May, 1813.

We feel much pleasure in stating that that the party of gentlemen, with their attendants, who upon the 18th of last month embarked on a trackless journey into the interior, have returned from their expedition, without the slightest injury, either from fatigue or accident. They report a prodigious extent of fine, level country lying in the direction they pursued, which time may render of importance and utility. - Sydney Gazette , 12 June, 1813.

• Thus did the newspaper modestly report on the first major inland exploration of NSW, which threw the interior open to pastoral expansion. Gregory Blaxland, William Lawson and William Charles Wentworth left Blaxland's station in the foothills on 11 May (the Gazette stands corrected) and made the journey in three weeks.

The boundless champaign burst upon our sight

till nearer the beauteous landscape grew

Op'ning like Canaan on rapt Israel's view - William Charles Wentworth, May, 1813.

• Wentworth's verse was penned after he and his companions, William Lawson and Gregory Blaxland viewed seemingly limitless grasslands after their conquest of the Blue Mountains.

Rowdy crowd dispersed at cock fight

An assemblage of persons met on Monday last in the outskirts of Parramatta to indulge in the amusement of cock-fighting, but a spirit of turbulence early manifesting itself, the resident Magistrate found it necessary to use his authority in dispersing the meeting for the preservation of peace . - Sydney Gazette , 12 June, 1813.

Charming letters conceal impending tragedy

In the autumn of 1813, an exchange of letters occurred between Ann Flinders, wife of Captain Matthew Flinders, in London, and her 27-year-old nephew, Lieut John Franklin, aboard ship off the English east coast. First, Franklin wrote to Matthew Flinders; in September, Ann replied, saying he was well but busy; on 14 October, 1813, Franklin wrote again to Ann at 7 Upper Fitzroy Street, Fitzroy Square, London ...

My dear Madam, Believe me, your very friendly letter of 27 ult. was not received either with surprize or disappointment; on the contrary, it afforded me very great gratification and I considered it, as an additional mark of your friendship and esteem. I can easily fancy Capt Flinders to be fully occupied, and that his time must be too important to spare any, for mere chit chat correspondence; I did not expect any letter from him until I wrote, and it is an odd coincidence that you should be in the act of offering an apology for him, when mine reached. I am truly rejoiced he keeps his health & spirits in such good trim in spite of the intense reading and close application he must have had these last two years; it encourages us to hope, he may have the full enjoyment of those blessings, with the ample reward of his labours - You were kind enough to ask whether I have laid in a good stock of health - Never thank God, was I in better - or possessed a greater flow of spirits - Having been long ago inured to warmer climes the West India heat had very little effect on me; I really thought it inconsiderable when compared with that of places I had previously visited. Though the old residents complained bitterly and were very apprehensive, that the unusual closeness and sultry heat was a presage of either violent Earthquake, or dreadful hurricane, both I understand have taken place at Jamaica, since our departure - and caused very considerable disorder. Yet, at the time they were so full of prognostics - I felt but little inconvenience from the weather, nothing to equal my sensations in other places - You will suppose (I think) that your humble servant is pretty well seasoned - Mr Wiles was surprized to see me bear the fatigue of riding about the mountains so well - and follow it up with such ease. I heard a full account of the latter days of poor John Brackenbury. he fell a victim to the yellow fever, brought on by an overlong and inconsiderate ride in the heat of day. All who knew him cherish the remembrance of him and speak in terms of great respect & esteem, - He was placed in a good situation through Mr Wiles' interest and had every prospect of being successful when a sudden summons shortened his career. I have brought home some of his papers that were found in his desk - the poetical scraps loudly proclaim his warm affection for some female, near his much regretted home, but I cannot fathom who the object can be: He appears to hope through all, 'the day of return may not be distant,'; alas, he little thought, there, would be his Grave! Happy, perhaps it was that he found an early one!!

You will have seen ere this I presume my Brother Willingham he was to pass thro' London on his way to Oxford - on his return he takes up residence in Lincoln's Inn for the Winter; I sincerely hope he may apply to Law again, at least with more assiduity than I suspect he has done in Lincolnshire. He will have given you all the Lincolnshire news - my good friends are very sparing on that head, - unusually so, - a fault I have not often had to charge them with; their silence now amounts to that -

I wrote Capt Fowler on newspaper authority & offered congratulations on his marriage - he thanked me, in answer - an acknowledgement I think of his having entered the holy List of Benedicts - he mentioned by the bye that had I been a few days sooner in England he could have got me an appointment as first Lieut of the Volontaire a 38 gun frigate - so you perceive Dame Fortune will have me allied to her Eldest Daughter in spite of all my endeavours & exertion; when I wrote him it had been only two or three days filled up.

When I was last in London Capt. Flinders wished me to say when Capt Walker was coming to Town adding that he meant to call on him. I have learnt this Evening that he is ordered up to the Admiralty on some business, and will probably leave Deal tomorrow Eveng. He is at present on shore and may start before without coming on board - I cannot tell where he puts up - but he may be found at the Admiralty - Hugh Stanger is his Agent - and I think it probable he may be at Ibbotsons Hotel - if Capt Flinders has time to call - I am sure he will be happy to see him - This stay of course will be very short being on duty.

You did not mention where Samuel now is, whether in Town or Country - if in your neighbourhood I must beg you to give my respects. Allow me to say in conclusion I shall always feel much favoured by the receipt of any communication from you and particularly so when that anything may be interesting to me, which Capt F cannot find time to make known. I must beg you to present him with my best regard & esteem and believe me ever to remain with true friendship & sincere esteem yours truly, John Franklin.

I am glad your dear little lady has recovered from her late Indisposition, I sincerely hope she & yours may avoid the many colds which are beginning to visit the good families hereabout

• Flinders was dying. Did Franklin guess? Franklin was a midshipman on the Investigator , the 'Samuel' he mentions was, doubtless, Samuel Flinders, Matthew's younger brother who sailed as second lieutenant on the Investigator , and 'Capt Fowler' was Robert Fowler, first lieutenant on the Investigator . The 'dear little lady' is the Flinders' one-year-old daughter, also Ann (who became mother of the Egyptologist Sir William Matthew Flinders Petrie). Franklin became Governor of Van Diemens Land (1837-43). He perished while on an Arctic exploration in 1847. Flinders died on 18 July, 1814.

Foreign fad flogged to local society

The remarkably sympathetic Power of the very curious Composition betrays the Temper of the Person to whom it is applied, and gives Delight to see it move of itself; it consists of two thin and small Leaves, the largest for Gentlemen and the smallest for Ladies. - Advertisement, Sydney, 27 November, 1813.

• This interesting entertainment, the Chinese Sensitive Leaf, was said to be 'the most Novel and fashionable Evening Amusement in Europe'.

Missing Foo Foo? Mary Reibey, blackbirder?

Whereas a Young Otaheitan (Tahitian ) Woman, who was brought hither in the Mercury schooner, named Foo-foo, and who had ever since resided in the House of Mrs Reibey, has within the last Month unaccountably disappeared, and no tidings whatever had of her: Five Guineas Reward will be given to anyone who will give satisfactory Information respecting her to the said Mrs Reibey ... - Missing Person, Sydney Gazette , 4 December, 1813.

• Foo-foo, it is reasonable to suggest, had decided to continue her world cruise. It is quite possible that she was brought to Sydney on one of Thomas Reibey's speculative trading voyages from 1809.

George Evans strikes west towards Bathurst

I cannot speak too much of the country. The increase of stock for some 100 years cannot overrun it, the grass is so good and intermixed with a variety of herbs. Emus and geese are numerous, but cannot get any. We counted forty-one emus this day: our dogs will not follow them. - Surveyor George Evans, near Bathurst, 21 April, 1814.

• Evans, the first European to actually cross the Blue Mountains, returned to Sydney in seven weeks and confirmed to Governor Lachlan Macquarie the quality of the land seen by Blaxland, Wentworth and Lawson.

At sunset as we were fishing I saw some natives coming down the plain. They did not see us until we surprised them: there were only two women and four children. The poor creatures trembled and fell down with fright; I think they were coming for water. I gave them what fish we had; some fish hooks, twine and a tomahawk they appeared glad to get from us. Two boys ran away; the other small children cried much at first. A little while after I played with them they began to be good-humoured and laugh. Both of the women were blind of their right eye. - Surveyor George Evans, near Bathurst, 21 April, 1814.

1814:

London Times printed on a Koenig's steam press.

Colonial chaplain Samuel Marsden establishes a Church Missionary Society mission at the Bay of Islands, New Zealand.

Dutch suzerainty over western New Guinea recognised.

Runaway ship nearly blows up Sydney

A ship of nearly five hundred tons, set loose, it may almost be said, in the middle of town, unmanageable, and pouring forth columns of smoke and fire, threatening desolation all around her, with her guns all loaded, first pointed upon one object, then upon another, and every instant expected, by her explosion, to throw down or cover with her dreadful blast all the buildings near her. - Sydney Gazette , 3 June, 1814.

• Fortunately, the Irish convicts on the Three Bees had all disembarked when she caught fire in Sydney Cove after her maiden voyage. Her guns bombarded Sydney briefly until she drifted on to the rocks at Bennelong Point and burned to the waterline.  

Road across the Blue Mountains

It being the Intention of His Excellency the Governor to send in the Course of a few days a Working Party of thirty Men, under the Protection of a Guard of eight Soldiers, to commence the construction of a Cart Road ... across the Blue Mountains ... - Government Order, Sydney, 12 July, 1814.

• The Government Order strictly forbade any loiterers to go to the construction area and interfere with the work of the convicts (or to ascertain the possibilities of this splendid new escape route). The men finished the road in six months and received free pardons .

Designing Francis Greenway, a difficult man

I will immediately copy the drawing Your Excellency requested me to do, notwithstanding it is rather painful to my mind as a professional man to copy a building that has no claim to classical proportions or character. - Letter from Francis Greenway, Sydney, to Governor Macquarie, Sydney, 27 July, 1814.

• One of the great egos of the Antipodes burst forth, fortuitously, on the Sydney scene. Francis Greenway had been sentenced to death in March, 1814, for forging a building document, commuted to fourteen years' transportation. He arrived in Sydney in February, 1814, was followed by his wife, Mary, and three children in July. He commenced private practice immediately.

F. H. Greenway, 84, George St, from a Practice of many years as an Architect in some of the most extensive Concerns in England, public, speculative and private ... - Advertisement, Sydney Gazette , 17 December, 1814.

• Greenway gave the appearance of being a free man the moment he arrived in Sydney. Macquarie and his wife, Elizabeth, recognised his artistic qualities and were anxious to remain in his favour. He received a ticket-of-leave almost immediately and conditional emancipation in 1817.

1815: Napoleon lands in France from exile on Elba, 1 March. 

Governor and his lady cross the Blue Mountains

On Tuesday, His Excellency the Governor, accompanied by Mrs Macquarie, left Town for the purpose of visiting the newly-discovered plains within the Blue Mountains, to which a road of upwards of 100 miles in extent from Emu Plains has just been completed ... Sydney Gazette , 29 April, 1815.

• On 7 May, on the banks of the Macquarie River, Macquarie named the site of Bathurst. Later that month, surveyor George Evans penetrated a further 150km west and named the Lachlan River.

After riding about nine miles through a very pretty wooded country we arrived on a height which commanded a very extensive, grand and noble view of Bathurst Plains extending on both sides of the Macquarie River for eleven miles and three miles on each side of it, being almost entirely clear of timber for that extent. Mrs M and myself both mounted our horses when within a mile of the Grand Depot on the Macquarie River, Mr Evans, the Deputy Surveyor having rode out and met us a little time before. We arrived at the Depot at 1.30pm, the Guard being turned out to receive us, and the whole of the people, who gave us three cheers. - Governor Lachlan Macquarie's journal, Bathurst, 4 May, 1815.

1815: Battle of Waterloo, 18 June, ends 22 years of warfare between France and other European countries, particularly Britain. Napoleon is exiled to St Helena. The British wealthier classes enter an era of great prosperity.

Cost of living when you go off Govt rations

Things in this country is very dear. Mens hats is too pounds too shillings and stockings ten shillings per pair and shoos sixteen shillings per pair, sugar 3 shillings per pound and Butter 7 shillings ... and although the prices is so high we are very glad to get at any price so I must inform you of my wages. I have twenty pounds per year in currency money it will be more than 12 pound in English coin. - Ticket-of-leaver Thomas Holden, Sydney, letter to his wife in England, 30 June, 1815.

Old Ironbark makes the crossing

Mr Lawson crossed the river (Hawkesbury) with 100 head of horned cattle for the west country; his horses appear so bad I do not think he will get his cart there at all. - William Cox's diary, Emu Ford, 21 July, 1815.

• The explorer, William Lawson, was the first man to drive cattle across the Blue Mountains when he stocked his his grant near Bathurst in July that year. Later, he became commandant of the new post at Bathurst (1819-24) and continued to expand his holdings. He also engaged in further explorations and, for his toughness in the bush, earned the nickname, 'Old Ironbark'.

Greenway rubbishes everyone

The pillars which Mr Superintendent O'Hearne previously stated to be a credit to the colony, reflect as little upon the judgment of the colony, as they do upon the profound knowledge of the architect ... - Francis Greenway, Sydney, 29 March, 1816.

• Macquarie had commissioned Greenway to report on the completed Rum Hospital. His report was devastatingly bad and suggested it might fall down at any hour. His habit of making enemies was becoming legendary.

Disgusting habit! Imagine taking your latte there.

As the Bodies of the Felons that were Gibbeted on Hunter's Hill were close to the place where the Wharf is erected, and have become Objects of Disgust, especially to the Female Sex, they have been removed (by order of the Lieutenant-Governor) to a Point of Land near Queenborough, which in future will be the Place of Execution. - Hobart Town Gazette , 8 June, 1816.

'Australia' sneaks into official correspondence

I talked to Secretary Campbell this day, for the first time, on the important subject of his collecting the necessary materials and information for writing a correct and impartial History of New South Wales, alias Australia, and he promised to take this subject into his serious consideration. - Governor Macquarie's journal, 30 December, 1816.

• Macquarie's private agenda helped the late Matthew Flinders' enthusiasm to have the continent known as Australia. He achieved this by stealth, using 'Australia' in official dispatches to London.

He slept through it all, didn't he?

Upon the whole, I think there was as little immorality on board the Lord Melville as it is possible should prevail in such a ship's company of different sexes, so brought together . - Judge Barron Field, Sydney, c. February, 1817.

• Field, the new Judge Advocate, was a passenger on the Lord Melville whose Irish lady convicts almost surpassed those of the Lady Juliana in the matter of sexual indiscretions. What he did not know could not hurt him.

Wentworth declares himself an Australian

It is by no means my intention in becoming a member of the Bar to abandon the country that gave me birth. I am sensible of the sacred claims which it has upon me ... - William Charles Wentworth to Lord Fitzwilliam, London, 15 January, 1817.

• Wentworth, then aged twenty-five and in England to complete his education, was writing to his father's relative and benefactor, Fitzwilliam, who had diverted him from a military career to one in law. Wentworth then considered himself a rightful member of the Port Jackson gentry, was unaware until 1818 of his father's ignominious arrival in NSW .

Macquarie admits to London he's hired Greenway

From the want of a scientific person to plan and superintend the construction of all government public buildings, most of them have hitherto be very badly planned and still worse executed. A man named Francis Howard Greenway, who came out here as a convict in 1814 ... I have availed myself of his skill and scientific knowledge ... - Dispatch from Governor Lachlan Macquarie, Sydney, to Lord Bathurst, Secretary for Colonies, London, 4 April, 1817.

• Macquarie finally disclosed his appointment of Greenway as assistant to the inspector of public works. He said Greenway had come with the recommendation of Governor Arthur Phillip, who would have been familiar with Greenway's work. Phillip had died in 1814 and was buried in St Nicholas' Church, Bathampton, outside Bath, where Greenway had many successes.

To draw a ground plan and elevation for a castletted house for the residence of the Governor in Chief of the Colony. - Letter from Governor Lachlan Macquarie to Francis Greenway, Sydney, 4 April, 1817.

• Macquarie's architectural dreams were given great impetus by the presence of Greenway. In the same briefing letter, he called on Greenway to provide plans for a fort on Bennelong Point, and sumptuous brick stables for the new Government House. He left Government House entirely to Greenway's own 'taste and judgment'.

Macquarie opens Bank of NSW

Persevere, gentlemen, in your exertions to foster this infant establishment and be assured it shall ever have my warmest support and patronage - and that the time is not far distant when the Bank will on its own merits obtain a public confidence, and gradually flourish, to the credit and benefit of the proprietors and the country at large. - Governor Lachlan Macquarie, Sydney, 8 April, 1817.

• Macquarie responded warmly to a message of thanks from the new directors of the Bank of New South Wales. Possibly, the bank was Macquarie's greatest gift to the colony.

Macarthur comes home from exile

My dearest best beloved Elizabeth, We are at last safely at anchor within the Heads and waiting most impatiently for the appearance of Captain Piper ... - John Macarthur, Sydney, 30 September, 1817.

• Macarthur was aged fifty when he returned to NSW after seven years in exile. The British Government had his promise that he would no longer interfere in colonial politics, but he quickly came into conflict with Macquarie over his wool interests. His sons took over the running of his affairs, and he was no longer a feared force.

Oxley's western explorations

Mr Oxley's return to Bathurst took place on 29th of August last, after an absence of nineteen weeks. - Sydney Gazette , 18 October, 1817.

• John Oxley, the surveyor-general, had been sent out to trace the course of the Lachlan River, preferably to an inland lake. Alas, it failed to fulfil its promise. But he also followed the Macquarie River, which, he said, showed signs of being a 'river of the first magnitude'.

Unhinged

... My farmhouse at Baulkham Hills was broke into by some Person or Persons unknown who broke the Window Sashes to pieces, and carried off all the Glass; also the door Locks, Bolts and Hinges ... - Reward notice, Sydney, 18 October, 1817.

• George Suttor ( see 18 December, 1808 ), who inserted this notice, was living with his family at the Lunatic Asylum at Castle Hill, where he had obtained a position as superintendent. He was, however, using inmates illegally as unpaid labour on the farm. They probably wanted to make their ward burglar proof ...

Good old days ... customers outwit a banker!

I was induced to make promises overnight which I had not the resolution next day to refuse . - Francis Williams, Bank of NSW chief cashier, 3 February, 1818.

• Poor Williams explained a 12,000 pounds deficiency in the cash account. Certain respected gentlemen had taken him to a club, plied him with strong liquor, then, when he was ripe for the plucking, obtained assurances of cash advances from him.

Greenway nags a man to death

Having seen the quarry on my return from Liverpool, or what you call a quarry, I observed you have broken up a few stones which are perished and unfit for use, I shall expect a proper quarry to be opened, and good, white stone obtained .. . - Letter from Francis Greenway to builder Nathaniel Lucas, Sydney, 10 April, 1818.

• Lucas, who had been one of the contractors on the Rum Hospital, had the task of building St Luke's Church, Liverpool. This time, Greenway's trenchant criticism may have had dire consequences see ( 12 May, 1818. )

Blacks give Singleton's party a sleepless night

Disturbed by the voices of natives, cracking of sticks and rolling big stones down toward us. Every man of us rose and fled from the fire, secreting ourselves behind trees with our guns and ammunition where we could have a view of the fire, (not) doubting if we stayed by the fire, every man was lost. Spent the whole night in that condition, raining very hard. The native we had with us was timid than any of us, saying he was sure he would be killed. - Benjamin Singleton's diary, north of Windsor (NSW), 5 May, 1818.

• Singleton, son of a convict, led a private expedition trying to find a route from the Hawkesbury to the rich Hunter valley. He was unsuccessful on this journey, but in 1821 was granted land at the present site of Singleton as a reward for discovering it.

Body found of Greenway's maddened victim

On Tuesday last, the body of Mr Nathaniel Lucas, the respectable builder, was found, left by the tide, at twenty yards distance from Moore Bridge, Liverpool, which unhappy catastrophe appeared to have proceeded from his own act, owing to mental derangement. - Sydney Gazette , 12 May, 1818.

• Lucas had visited Greenway in Sydney a few days before he apparently took the plunge. He was drunk and Greenway advised him to come back when he was sober.

1796-1820: More than 1800 Enclosure Bills are passed in England in these years. They enclosed, for the use of the Lord of the Manor, village ground which, for generations, had been used by the common man to supply food for his family. The poor were often reduced to poaching. And the penalty in 1816 for being caught with instruments for trapping game inside an Enclosure was transportation to Australia.

Imperial Government invents 'work for the dole'!

You must not employ so many for the use of the Crown. His Majesty's Ministers find great fault with so many Convicts being employed on the Govt. Works ... and have desired the numbers considerably reduced. I am doing so here accordingly and enjoin you to do the same. - Governor Lachlan Macquarie, Sydney, to Lieut Governor William Sorell, Hobart, 23 May, 1818.

• The civil servants in London did not want to support their convicts! They wanted them taken off government stores by free settlers as slave labour and allow the settlers to worry about their upkeep. Trouble was, the British were sending out more than the colony's free settlers could absorb.

Elegant 'stowaway' doesn't fancy Shark Bay heat

I went ashore with Louis and we spent several days in a tent. That stay on land was not a pleasant one for me, the country being entirely devoid of trees and vegetation. When the heat died down a little, I would collect shells. - Rose-Marie de Freycinet, Shark Bay (WA), 18 September, 1818.

• Rose-Marie was the 21-year-old bride of Louis-Claude Desaules de Freycinet, commander of the French naval vessel L'Uranie which made a detailed survey of the Southern Hemisphere, 1818-20, until the ship was wrecked on the Falkland Islands, in the south Atlantic on the return. Louise and Rose-Marie returned to France and her journal was published after her death. Rose-Marie, the first woman (known) to circumnavigate the world, was smuggled aboard L'Uranie and her presence was not made known to the other officers until after the ship sailed.

Young Wentworth learns the truth about dad

Deeply as I am mortified to find that there is the smallest shadow of foundation for the circulation of any report prejudicial to your reputation, cut as I am to the quick at the discovery that you were once arraigned on a criminal charge at the bar of justice, still you may rest assured that I will compel this prying slanderer to make you the most public and complete reparation for so infamous a calumny or else spill the last drop of my heart's blood in the effort. I have already had an interview with him and he could not have been more convinced that he never stood in a more perilous predicament. - William Charles Wentworth, London, to his father, D'Arcy, Sydney, 14 February, 1819.

• Wentworth had discovered that D'Arcy was a criminal, albeit it, an unconvicted one. He now knew why his father did not mix often in colonial society. The 'slanderer' was one H.G. Bennet, who made the untrue statement that D'Arcy had been a convict. Wentworth, overnight, moved to the emancipist cause.

Apparently, it's okay to murder Irish convicts

It appeared to the court and jury that upon the evidence the conduct of the convicts aboard the Chapman was of a nature to excite in the minds of the officers and crew such an apprehension ... as could excuse at least, if not justify, the several acts of homicide laid to their charge. - Lord Bathurst, Secretary for Colonies, London, to Governor Lachlan Macquarie, Sydney, 12 April, 1819.

• Here was yet another case of officialdom in London whitewashing the captain, surgeon and commander of the guard of what seemed to be clear cases of murder. During the voyage of the convict transport, Chapman , in 1818, five Irish convicts had been killed outright and seven fatally wounded when the ship's officers claimed to have become apprehensive about a mutiny. Macquarie had the officers arrested in Sydney and sent home for trial. They were acquitted.

Greenway: 'How I'd save Sydney from invaders'

I had made my plan upon such a principle, that in case the fort should fall into the hands of an enemy it might be blown up in five minutes and evacuated to their destruction ... - Letter from Francis Greenway to Governor Lachlan Macquarie, Sydney, 5 June, 1819.

• This is Greenway, master military strategist, speaking. His idea was that Fort Macquarie, to be built at Bennelong Point, and the existing battery at Dawes Point would be the ultimate defenders of Sydney Cove, which they flanked, and thus Sydney. Fort Macquarie would be dispensable.

Hyde Park Barracks inspire more crook poetry

Aspiring monuments meet the wond'ring eye,

Trophies of art, taste and industry. - Michael Robinson, 'poet laureate', Sydney Gazette , 5 June, 1819.

• Robinson, always eager to impress his patron, Macquarie, went to great poetic lengths on the occasion of the completion of the Greenway-designed Hyde Park Barracks. Greenway received Macquarie's absolute pardon.

1819: The 'Peterloo Massacre', 16 August, occurs when cavalry, wielding sabres, disperses a peaceful meeting of 50,000 people - men, women, and children - listening to radical reform speakers at St Peter's Fields, Manchester. It is believed that 11 of the crowd died and about 500 were injured.

'Sir Humphrey' arrives to white-ant Macquarie

The Commission of Enquiry into the affairs of this Colony, which His Royal Highness, the Prince Regent, has been pleased to direct to John Thomas Bigge Esq.; and the appointment of Thomas Hobbes Scott, Esq., as Secretary to the Honourable Commissioner, with a Power of Substitution in Case of Accident to him, having been this Day duly opened and read at Government House ... - Government notice, Sydney, 7 October, 1819.

• Thus began the demise of Lachlan Macquarie, the benevolent dictator of NSW. Bigge, a highly-credentialled, 39-year-old lawyer, was appointed by London to report on every aspects of colonial life, as well as the illegalities and eccentricities in the private lives of the colony's principal citizens. He and Macquarie were diametrically opposed; Bigge's charter was to examine ways in which convict transportation could be made a more terrifying deterrent to crime at Home; Macquarie continued his practice of permitting emancipated convicts to rejoin society.

But I cannot help expressing my astonishment at the useless magnificence of the plan of this building and my doubt whether under any circumstances of this colony it would have obtained your Lordship's sanction and approbation. - Dispatch from John Thomas Bigge, Sydney, to Lord Bathurst, Secretary for Colonies, London, 18 October, 1819.

• Bigge, as his commission demanded, was already beginning to twist the knife in Macquarie's back. His criticism was of the Government stables. Bigge was of the view that NSW was a prison and that monies should be spent in this direction.

4. 1820-1829

'Six women conspired to murder me and did actually form a mutiny ... ' (Surgeon James Hall, convict transport, Brothers , 12 December, 1823)

ANOTHER Scottish soldier, Sir Thomas Brisbane, landed in Sydney on 7 November, 1821, to assume government from the sadly disappointed Lachlan Macquarie. John Macarthur had been making trouble for the departing governor, whispering in the ear of John Bigge, the English civil servant sent out to investigate the colony. Macquarie sailed home in February, 1822, and Brisbane set about the task of bringing order to the growing clamour for land grants from 'exclusives', emancipists and newly-arrived free immigrants. Those the new governor displeased, notably Macarthur and the grasping parson, Samuel Marsden, followed the usual colonial custom of whingeing to their friends in high places in England, accusing Brisbane of laziness and being preoccupied with his passion, astronomy. This was water off the old duck's back. Brisbane had a friend in high places, too, none other than his old Napoleonic war mate, the Duke of Wellington. As well, the 52-year-old governor's young bride of three years, Anna Maria (Makdougall) , was heiress to one of the great fortunes of Scotland. So he could live in rural comfort at Government House, and make observations of the southern stars from his nice new observatory.

Brisbane presided over Britain's cautious gift of limited self-government in NSW. The Legislative Council met for the first time on 25 August, 1824. Five of the seven members were selected by the governor. Two months later, the colony achieved a free press when William Charles Wentworth and Robert Wardell began publishing the Australian . The Legislative Council was dominated by the 'exclusives' of the landed gentry; the Australian was firmly on the side of the ex-convict emancipists. On 17 October, 1824, three days after the Australian appeared, Hamilton Hume and William Hovell, quarrelling all the way, set off from Yass on the odyssey of exploration which was meant to end at Westernport Bay. Through some minor error of navigation, it finished seventy kilometres to the west at the present site of Geelong.

At the end of 1825, Brisbane went the way of most governors so far when he was recalled to London. But he had been involved in the separation of Van Diemens Land from NSW. The new colony, formally proclaimed on 3 December, 1825, had petitioned the king: ' ... this Island, originally considered a mere penal settlement ... has progressively advanced in improvement as regards its internal economy and has attained a corresponding importance in its external relations'. By 1825, the population of the island was 12,643 and the convict numbers had dropped to 46.9 per cent. Poor Sir Ralph Darling accepted the poisoned chalice of governor of NSW and, in May, 1828, had the pleasure of presiding over the British takeover of the entire continent when Charles Fremantle possessed Western Australia in the king's name. The first settlers arrived in June, 1829, and everything seemed rosy in Darling's domain. But a burr in his breeches had arrived in NSW in the form of the obnoxious Thomas Mitchell.

1820: On 29 January, George 111, ruler of Great Britain from 1760, dies and is succeeded by his son, George IV, who had been acting as Regent since 1811 during his father's insanity.

Macquarie says the right thing about punishment

It must never be forgot that this is, at present, a Convict Country, originally established for their punishment and Reformation; that at least Nine-tenths of its present Population consist of either Convicts, Persons who have been Convicts, or the Offspring of Convicts ... - Governor Lachlan Macquarie, Sydney, to Lord Bathurst, Secretary for Colonies, London, 22 February, 1820.

Spoiled brat grows up to be a drunk, dies young

At half past 8 o'clock in the morning, Lachlan, being dressed as a Highlander for the first time in a suit of tartan and bonnet, proceeded with a number of his juvenile friends on a water excursion in the Govt. barge, attended by his own little cutter, together with three boats full of the natives ... - Governor Lachlan Macquarie's journal, Sydney, 28 March, 1820.

• The sixth birthday of the young Lachlan was celebrated with all the grandeur expected of the only child of the doting, fifty-eight-year-old Governor. At the end of his reign in 1822, Macquarie had the family's ancient cow shipped from Sydney to Scotland at the wee laddie's behest. Young Lachlan grew up, followed his father into the army, became a drunk and killed himself accidentally falling down the stairs of a Scottish castle.

Mum's the word as Ann's near-death becomes a triumph!

Ann Inett, a First Fleet convict dressmaker who narrowly avoided dangling daintily from the gallows in her native Worcestershire. went on to mother two sons by a future Governor of New South Wales, Philip Gidley King.
She'd already had two children out of wedlock when she was hauled before the Worcester City Assizes, aged 32, on 11 March, 1786, charged with stealing a nice outfit with spares, to wit, a petticoat, two aprons, a pair of shoes, three muslin handkerchiefs, a silk hood, a gauze cap, a linen gown, cotton stockings, and a muslin cap, all to the value of 21 shillings.
All this was the wearing apparel of Susannah Brookes, whose house had been entered forcibly in July, 1785.
Ann was sentenced to death, commuted to seven years' transportation when the value of the goods was reduced to the non-terminal sum of 12 shillings. She sailed to Sydney on the Lady Penryhn on 13 May, 1787. At least seven of Ann's fellow convicts that day before the Assizes were hanged,
We assume her parents, Samuel and Mary Inett, took care of her children, Samuel and Constance, aged nine and six when she sailed. The family lived in the village of Abberley, near Worcester, where Ann had been born in 1754, and there are still Inetts in the district today.
In Sydney, on 30 January, 1788, Ann was one of six women selected by the 29-year-old Lieutenant Philip Gidley King to join his party of Marines and convicts to colonise the uninhabited Norfolk Island, northeast of Sydney.
He also assured them they would not be hard work'd and wd. be conveyed home to England if they chose it, upon expiration of their sentence, as surgeon Arthur Bowes Smyth wrote in his journal.
King, according to a contemporary, saw Ann as an attractive woman, small-framed, dark-haired and with a neat and clean appearance.

When the party of twenty-three, including fifteen convicts landed at Norfolk Island on 6 March from the Supply, he installed Ann as his housekeeper. Their first son, Norfolk, was born on the island in January, 1789, and their second, Sydney, in July, 1790, after their return to the mainland.
King was ordered by Governor Arthur Phillip to go to England that year to report on the lamentable state of NSW. Ann stayed in Sydney with the boys. Their irregular situation was unremarkable: the cheerful Australian greeting, How are you, you bastard! was born about this time (and would become more popular with a vigorous birthrate).
In London, on 11 March, 1791, King married the kind-hearted 26-year-old Anna Josepha Coombe (on her birthday) and they sailed for Sydney four days later so King could take up the appointment as first Lieutenant Governor of Norfolk Island.
On arrival in Sydney, Anna was genuinely pleased (your editor believes) to meet the older Ann (of whom she had heard so much from Philip) and was delighted to meet the littlies, Norfolk and Sydney, who would eventually be added to her own family of five.
The Kings returned to England in 1796 and Norfolk and Sydney went with them. The boys finished school there and entered the Navy under the patronage of their father's friends.

A Georgian arranged romance?

But before that, Ann had met a respectable man in Sydney, Richard John Robinson, Superintendent of Government Mills. It seems likely (particularly to enthusiasts for Georgian romances), that this meeting was arranged by Philip Gidley King, ever-anxious to do the right thing by the mistress who'd served him so well.
Robinson had come out on the Scarborough on the Second Fleet, a hellish voyage controlled by grasping free enterprise contractors. Of the 1017 convicts who departed, 267 died. Some commentators have suggested that Robinson was a convict, but it is more likely that he was a free government employee.
The couple married by special licence at St John's Church of England, Parramatta, on 18 November, 1792.
By the time King, Anna and their daughters returned to the colony in 1800, Richard and Ann had a tavern in Pitt's Row, the Yorkshire Grey, offering the finest fare. King had been appointed Governor of NSW and had a devil of a time controlling the unruly mercantile/political activities of John Macarthur and the Rum Corps.
Ann was a free woman by now, an emancipated convict, and although it wouldn't do for the Governor's Lady to entertain her, it would be nice to think Ann popped into Government House by the back door for the occasional natter, wouldn't it?
The Kings returned to England in 1806; he was in declining health and died in 1808. In Sydney, the Rum Corps overthrew his successor, William Bligh, in 1808, but Ann and Richard kept a low, non-aligned profile throughout the troubled period of the John Macarthur Dictatorship.
They probably enjoyed the period of the Macquarie era after 1810 that followed Rum Rule; the Governor and his Lady had a deliberately benign attitude towards emancipists, particularly those who were in the blessed state of Holy Wedlock.
But by the end of the decade, when they were in their sixties, Ann and Richard's thoughts turned to nostalgic retirement Back Home.
Richard went first. A notice in the Sydney Gazette of Saturday, 29 May, 1819, under Claims and Demands, said: Richard John Robinson intending to proceed to England on the ship Surry requires claims to be presented; and those indebted to settle their accounts. N.B. Mrs Ann Robinson, wife of the Advertiser, remains in the Colony, with full power to transact his business as though he himself were present. The Surry sailed on 31 July, 1819.
Ann left on the Admiral Cockburn at the beginning of March, 1820, having finally disposed of their much-improved premises in Pitt Row (which had become Pitt Street). A noticed in the Sydney Gazette of 8 January, 1820, said: To be sold by private contract, all those extensive and well-known premises, No, 105 Pitt Street, the present property and residence of Mrs Ann Robinson, who is about to leave the Colony by the ship Admiral Cockburn. These premises are desirably situate for Traders and Merchants, having a house built of brick and stone, a well-accustomed Butcher's Shop, an extensive garden well-stocked with Fruit Trees, an excellent well of Pure Water, well-supplied all seasons; also an extensive kitchen and Baker's Oven ...
It sold quickly, worth millions and millions of today's dollars in the heart of the Sydney CBD (a 111sq.m office suite, one of many in the seven-storey building was offered for $635,000 in August, 2007. Downtown Duty Free and American Express Foreign Exchange are on the ground floor!)
Ann boarded the Admiral Cockburn, having the care of the two orphan sons of the well-known and dissipated Sydney solicitor, Thomas Sterrop Amos, who had died, enormously wealthy, aged 43, in August, 1819. She was returning them to their grandparents in London.
And guess who was among the passengers? Her old friend, the wealthy Mary Reibey and her two daughters! They were bound for a triumphant, boastful tour of the Old Country from which Mary had been banished as a convict 27 years earlier. What chats those rich lady lags must have enjoyed around the captain's table!
Mary and her daughters returned to Australia (she was, after all, the landlady of the Bank of NSW), but Ann and Richard remained in England. Their movements are uncertain. Perhaps they went to live in his native Yorkshire. Did they make contact with her earlier children, now in their mid-forties and late-thirties? Did she meet her sons by King, Norfolk and Sydney? She must have. Whatever, Ann Inett licked the system! And so did Mary Reibey! What a giggle!

Unforgiving parson

The future hopes of this colony depend upon the rising generation - little can be expected from the convicts who are grown old in vice, but much may be done for their children under proper instruction. - Letter from Rev Samuel Marsden, Sydney, to the Bishop of London, 11 March, 1821.

• Marsden was increasingly mocked in NSW for his personal materialism and his refusal to accept that former convicts might be capable of rehabilitation.

Crime and Punishment

Nabbed by the Bow Street Runners!
James Hyne, servant of a leather-currier*, was on an errand for his master to the huge new Theatre Royal in Drury Lane, Westminster, when he was pick-pocketed so deftly he didn't know it had happened. A Bow Street runner told him about it when he came to Hyne's employer's establishment later to return his leather notebook, value tenpence.
John Sharpless, 19, an unemployed harness-maker, and his accomplice, Mary Miller, 17, accidental thieves, were found guilty of the crime at the Old Bailey law courts on 19th June, 1799, and sentenced to seven years' transportation.
Mary told the court: My mother in the afternoon gave me leave to go out; I am out of place; I took a walk up Oxford Rd, and this young man used a public house where my mother deals for beer, and seeing him he spoke to me; I saw the piece of paper and picked it up, when Mr Crocker and another man (Bow Street Runners) came and laid hold of me and said we had been picking pockets.
Mary Miller disappeared into Australian colonial society, but Sharpless was assigned to a harness-maker in Sydney, served his time and, In 1828, at the time of the NSW Census, aged 48, was working for a harness-maker, William Winn, and married to a convict named Charlotte, 45, who'd come out, aged 18, in the Earl Cornwallis in 1801. Her surname was either Badger, convicted at Worcester, or Jennings (Middlesex). She was given seven years.
(* A skilled tradesman who softened tanned leather. The Bow Street Runners were professional police, founded in 1750 and paid by out of the funds of the Bow Street magistrates office, near Covent Garden. They ceased to exist when Sir Robert Peel founded the Metropolitan Police in 1829. [hence 'Peelers'])

Friendship born in convict irons ...
Isaac Perrett and John Blackmore, unknown to each other, were sentenced to life transportation in different parts of England in 1818. They were shipped out on the Hadlow and arrived in Sydney on Christmas Eve that year.
Blackmore, aged 44, was found guilty at the Old Bailey of stealing a handkerchief, value five shillings, at the Guildhall Yard, London. He said he picked it up ... The handkerchief laid between me and another man.
Perrett, a Cotswolds clothier, aged 22, married with a baby son, was found guilty of stealing at Gloucester. They became fast friends on the voyage.
On arrival in Sydney, both were sent west for 'distribution' Perrett went to Parramatta then to Newcastle on the Elizabeth Henrietta (1822) (listed as 'Parrott), and then to Patrick Plains, north of Sydney, as paid constable overseeing other convicts.
Blackmore went to Windsor, was appointed a town constable in July, 1823, then joined his friend, Perrett, by now a farmer at Patrick Plains.
Perrett had been rewarded by his part in the capture of some runaway convicts and was able to bring his wife, Elizabeth, and son, John, to NSW on the Lucy Davidson in 1829. But Elizabeth died on the voyage (whooping cough) and John arrived alone.
In 1844, John married Isabella Brown, daughter of free immigrants, settled near Dorrigo, northern NSW, and they had 13 children. Isaac had remarried and had more children. Thus, there are very many Perretts running around Australia today!

One watch too many
Mary Smith, 21, Cockney and bold as brass, bumped into James Webb, a tired old toll-keeper, near midnight on Ludgate Hill, London, on 13th February, 1818. In the confusion, she lifted his watch and bolted down an alley.
She was charged in the nearby Old Bailey. I am not the person, she said. But the court agreed with the watchman and constable who caught her.
She was given a free seven-year holiday in Sydney where, as a free woman 10 years later, she was still defiantly single.

Outwitted by a shopkeeper!
Mary Prior, aged 21, was a thief outsmarted by a linen draper, William Lander, in his shop in Westminster in December, 1827.
Storekeeper Lander noticed that a bolt of cloth was missing from his show window. He replaced the cloth and tied a length of string to it. When he saw the string move, he rushed out to the street and caught Mary Prior at the other end.
She had cut her hand stealing the cloth through the broken show window window - I will go. My hand is smaller, she was allegedly told an accomplice. Lander valued the stolen cloth at 60 shillings - enough to get Prior and her accomplice death sentences.
But the Old Bailey reduced the value to 39 shillings and they were given new starts, separately, in New South Wales, courtesy of seven years' transportation.

Life sentence ... for stealing a handkerchief
I assure you I am entirely innocent - I have been brought up to reverence the laws of God and my country - I entreat you you to look well to the evidence, and hope you will remember the paths of youth are slippery. - Edward Sampson's plea at the Old Bailey, London, 7 December, 1826.
Sampson, aged 16, was sentenced to life transportation to Australia for pick-pocketing Samuel Bacon's handkerchief, value five shillings.

Mary Ann's bush seducer gets nominal fine
'Lulled into a fancied security, she at length permitted herself to be overcome by his repeated importunities, and in an unguarded hour, yielded her virtue to the seductive wiles of her betrayer.'
• The subject of this lawyer's 1834 bodice-ripping outrage was 14-year-old Mary Ann Ward who, in fact, had already surrendered her virtue to an earlier seducer, a convict named Charles Taylor, who had been sent to to coal mines at Newcastle (NSW) for the offence.
Her latest seducer was a wealthy young free man, William Karnes. Mary Ann's father sued him for £1000, a king's ransom, complaining he had made his daughter pregnant and thus denied him of her unpaid labour.
The Supreme Court heard the seduction took place in the bush near Minto, western Sydney, while Mary Ann's father was away in England. He had left the young teenager in charge of his farm because her mother was a drunkard.
The court awarded Mr Ward £17 damages. It was told Mary Ann and her child, banished from her family, had been taken in by a benevolent and wealthy free-by-servitude Second Fleeter, Joseph Inch, publican of the Bunch of Grapes in Pitt Street, Sydney. She was still living with him and his family, listed as a servant (barmaid?) at the time of the 1828 Census.

'We are two rogues together'
Michael Ward, 26, and Thomas Dodman, 37, were sentenced to death at the Old Bailey, London on 20th April, 1814, for attempted theft of some spirits from their employer, a distiller.
When found at his lodging with four bottles, Dodman confessed: We are two rogues together.
Their sentences were commuted to life transportation. They arrived in Sydney on the vessel, Indefatigable, which left England in January, 1815 with 200 male convicts.
Ward had an intrepid young wife, Sophia, 19, who took paid passage on the next ship, Northampton, a female convict transport.
In Sydney, she and Michael raised six Currency Lads and Lasses. And that's how the British populated white Australia!

Bungling forger becomes schoolteacher!
Thomas Leathwick Robinson was found guilty on 11 September, 1822, in London, of forgery - selling four silver bottle labels and chain and having phony stamps and marks of the Company of Goldsmiths, which held a warrant from the King.
The prosecutors did not proceed with the charge of having defrauded the King, for which he would have been sentenced to death.
Instead, he got 14 years in New South Wales, sailed on the Competitor, and soon was appointed schoolmaster at Liverpool, in Sydney's west.
In 1824, he asked for free passages for his wife, Mary Jane, and five children. And that's another way they populated Australia!

His personal Assisted Emigration Scheme
In November, 1823, London East End dweller Samuel Gulliver, aged 18, had arranged his travel plans. He pick-pocketed a gentleman's watch, chain and seal on Blackfriars Bridge and, when detained, said: I shall go from here to the Compter (court), from there to Newgate (prison), and then to Botany (NSW).
And he was right! He arrived in Sydney on the regular convict transport, Mangles, in October, 1824, was sent to labour for seven years in the fresh air at Parramatta and, eventually, slipped seamlessly into Australian society.
(London sceptics believed many people would do as Gulliver. See keywords in this section 'Alexander Dalrymple')

Two young people ... and a fresh start
Mary McCarty was eighteen when a shopgirl caught her trying to hide 12 yards of lace under her shawl at a drapery near St Martin-in-the-Fields, Covent Garden, on 30 March, 1828. At the Old Bailey, she was sentenced to death.
Two witnesses attested to her good character and she told the court she did it in desperation because her husband was long unemployed. The penalty was reduced to seven year years transportation and she arrived on Sydney on the Almorah in 1824.
By the time of the 1828 Census, she was still in Government Service, but living as the common law wife of Henry Donahoe, aged 28, in Kent Street, Sydney. He had recently completed his own seven year term and was making his way as a free man.

Dr Halloran, a gentleman rogue's divine life
Lawrence Hynes Halloran, Doctor of Divinity, was 53 in 1818 when he forged the signature of Sir William Garrow, a former Old Bailey judge (!), Attorney-General and a member of the House of Commons, to get free postage (as MPs did) on a letter to Shropshire. The Old Bailey sent him to Sydney for seven years on the Baring.
Five men of the 300 convicts on board died of scurvy, but not Dr Halloran, who was accorded the usual privileges granted to literate gentlemanly con men.
Governor Lachlan Macquarie granted him a ticket-of-leave on his arrival in 1819 and he opened a private school known as Sydney Grammar (no less!).
When he'd done his time in 1825, he was appointed headmaster of the new Sydney Free Grammar School; he'd already been involved in a salacious escapade with a woman, Susannah Edwards, whose husband he'd arranged to be kept secured in convict barracks.
By 1824, he was having certain comely females assigned to him from the Parramatta Female Factory. One, Helen Fitzgerald, was sent back to factory 'because the air of Sydney disagrees with her'.
His common law wife, Anna Halloran, joined him in Sydney with their eleven children, but died after the birth of another in 1823.
Halloran, then nearly 60, promptly married Elizabeth Turnbull, aged 17, whom he'd fancied since she was a free shipmate, aged just 12, on the Baring five years earlier.
She was accompanied on the voyage by her mother, also Elizabeth, and her siblings, who were sailing to join their free settler family head, Robert, who had arrived on the Almorah two years earlier.
Halloran's very fortunate life ended with his death from natural causes in 1831.

Making the most in Old Sydney!
Joseph Hooper was the trusted servant of a surgeon, Herbert Mayo, who had rooms in Berwick Street, Westminster. Unfortunately, Hooper was short of cash so he pawned Mayo's very expensive microscope, surgical instruments and syringes on 19 September, 1825.
This wasn't a good idea because the brilliant Mr Hooper, in his mid-30s, was engaged in important research in the nervous system for King's College Hospital. Later, he became an enthusiastic correspondent of Charles Darwin, who was developing his theories on the Origin of Species.
The Old Bailey sentenced Hooper to death, but relented after several people gave him good character references. He was given life transportation and arrived in Sydney, aged 25, on the Speke in 1826.
He was assigned to an ex-convict baker, Thomas Newman at Darling Harbour, where the tools of trade were not as important as Mayo's instruments to mankind's future good health.
Newman himself was a 14-year transportee who had received a conditional pardon. He had come on the Portland in 1818 after his conviction at the Old Bailey in 1817 for possessing a few forged banknotes.
They weren't your usual silk handkerchief thieves, these two!

Ann and John's unexpected sweet new life
Ann Oldfield, 34, drunk, came upon a honest foundryman on a winter's evening in 1823 in the East End of London. This, according to his evidence at the Old Bailey, is what happened ...
'On the 14th of February, between ten and eleven o'clock at night, I left my work at an iron foundry and was going home in Golden Lane, near Old Street. I passed the prisoner. She hit me on the left hand side and knocked my hat off - several people were passing. I stooped down to pick it up, and she thrust her hand into my waistcoat pocket, and took out a little canvas bag with a shilling in it. I immediately seized her - she fastened her teeth into my hand. I called the watchman, who forced the bag out of her hand with the shilling in it.'
The watchman said: 'It is you, Miss Oldfield, is it. You must come with me.'
And so began Ann Oldfield's journey of redemption. She was sentenced to life transportation, sailed to Sydney on the Mary, and was assigned as a servant to the wealthy free settler, John Tunks, at Parramatta.
In 1825, she was granted permission to marry a ticket-of-leaver, John Fee (or Phee), who'd come out on the Prince Regent in 1821. Her transformation from wild East Ender was complete in less than three years.

1821: Napoleon Bonaparte dies on St Helena, 5 May, after five-and-a-half years of dreary, guarded exile.

Mary Reibey's triumphant trip home after 27 years

We weighed anchor and sailed from Gravesend. Went down the river about 14 miles, and was obliged to anchor owing to the wind being foul. Most of the ladies were a little sick owing to the motion of the sea. - Mary Reibey's diary, at sea, 26 June, 1821.

• Mary sailed from England aboard the Mariner after a triumphant tour of the homeland from which she was banished as a child convict 27 years before. In the 1828 census, she listed herself, quite correctly, as having come to Australia as a free settler in 1821. But then, she was always good at bending the facts, our Mary Haydock, even when she was arrested in Lancashire, disguised as a boy, 'James Burrows', for stealing and trying to sell a horse.

Greenway sacked, a victim of himself

By direction of the Governor, I am to acquaint you that from the present date your services to the Government will be dispensed with. - Letter from Frederick Goulburn, Colonial Secretary, to Francis Greenway, Sydney, 15 November, 1822.

• Greenway's career as a Government architect was over. He was a victim, among other things, of John Thomas Bigge, his own querulous nature and his notorious tardiness in completing projects.

Singleton founded as a cattle station

ST PATRICK'S PLAINS. Mr B. Singleton begs leave to inform the public that he will take charge of any person's cattle at the above-mentioned Plains. Terms 10s-a-head per annum; taken for no less period than three years. Apply at the Kurry Jung (Kurrajong) mill. N.B. Responsible for any number which may be entrusted to his charge. - Sydney Gazette , 22 December, 1821.

• Benjamin Singleton had discovered Patrick's Plains earlier that year and soon took up residence at the present site of Singleton.

Blacks strike back at invaders and their herds

My son, Mr Henry Cox is this instant returned from Bathurst (and so ill from the heat that he cannot proceed further) with information that the natives have driven away the persons who were in charge of the stock at the River Cudgegong with the exception of one man who it is supposed is killed; it also appears that the natives let the horned cattle out of the yards and got possession of the sheep that my sons kept there for rations, which they were killing when the men came away. - Letter from roadmaker, builder and grazier William Cox, Clarendon (near Windsor), NSW, to Governor Sir Thomas Brisbane, Sydney, 7 February, 1822.

• Henry and his brother, George, had established two cattle stations about 130km north of Bathurst. Henry rode to Windsor to inform his father of their misfortune, while George went to Bathurst, gathered a party of men and returned to the stations to recover their cattle and punish the aborigines.

Lachlan Macquarie reports to his boss

I found the colony barely emerging from imbecile infancy, and suffering from various privations and disabilities; the country impenetrable forty miles from Sydney; agriculture in a yet languishing state; commerce in its early dawn; revenue unknown; threatened with famine; distracted by faction; the public buildings in a state of dilapidation and mouldering to decay; the few roads and bridges formerly constructed rendered almost impassable; the population in general depressed by poverty; no public credit nor private confidence; the morals of the great mass of the population in the lowest state of debasement; and religious worship almost totally neglected.

Part of these evils may perhaps be ascribed to the mutiny of the 102nd Regiment; the arrest of Governor Bligh; and the distress occasioned to the settlers by the then recent floods of the Hawkesbury and Nepean Rivers, from whose banks chiefly the colony was at that time supplied with wheat.

Such was the state of New South Wales when I took charge of its administration on the 1st of January, 1810. I left it in February last reaping incalculable from my extensive and important discoveries in all directions, including the supposed insurmountable barrier called the Blue Mountains to the westwards, of which are situated the fertile plains of Bathurst; and, in all respects, enjoying a state of private comfort and public prosperity which I trust will at least equal the expectation of His Majesty's Government. - Retired Governor Lachlan Macquarie's report to Lord Bathurst, Secretary for Colonies, London, 27 July, 1822.

• Macquarie reported on his 12-year stewardship of NSW soon after returning to England, aware that Commissioner John T. Bigge was preparing an alternative assessment. The several volumes of Bigge's report damned Macquarie's governorship, and although he was received graciously by Bathurst and thanked personally by King George IV, he was refused a title and died two years later.

Britain loosens the apron strings ... slightly

An Act to provide ... for the better Administration of Justice in New South Wales and Van Diemens Land... - Statute, Westminster, 19 July, 1823.

• Britain's generosity in allowing the colonies a measure of self-government was strictly limited; the Governor could override the new Legislative Council in a time of crisis, such as a convict insurrection. And the Governor selected the five to seven members himself.

Travel pass

Permit Joseph Onus and Robert Williams, Settlers at Richmond, to pass from Windsor to the Station of Benjamin Singleton on Patrick's Plains with the undermentioned cattle and servants viz. 100 head cattle, branded JO on near hip, 40 do branded RW on ditto. Thomas Ward, convict per Henry, assigned servant to Joseph Onus, This pass to be in force for 21 days only from the present date. - Pass issued by the Colonial Secretary's Office, Sydney, 24 October, 1823.

• Even in 1823, under the benign governorship of Sir Thomas Brisbane, NSW was still a penal colony ruled by unbending law. This exercise in bureaucracy was for the benefit of Thomas Ward, who had come to the colony in 1823 aboard the vessel, Henry , sentenced to 14 years.

Mary Reibey's emus floor intruders (so she tells Poms)

FIELD SPORTS. -The coursing of the emu and kangaroo furnishes sport and exercise equal to any stag-hunting in Europe. The meat of the latter is equal to venison, and the tail makes excellent soup, superior to any oxtail soup. The general weight of the kangaroo is from forty to one hundred pounds, but some have been killed weighing one hundred and forty pounds; the flesh is brown and full of gravy, but it has no fat: on which account some fat pork is generally cooked along with it. The flesh of the emu is like young beef, and is considered wholesome and nutritive: in form it resembles the ostrich, and is nearly as large; when standing upright, they are commonly seven feet high. Its weight is usually from sixty to one hundred and twenty pounds, and though in general the most gentle animal in nature, he will sometimes defend himself with his beak and feet, and such is the force of his motion, that a man cannot withstand the shock. They are, however, easily tamed, and Mrs Reibey, of Sydney, assured me she had a pair of emus that used to range her yard, protect her premises, and perform the office usually allotted to a house dog. If a stranger intruded himself, the emu interposed, and if he did not quickly retire the emu never failed to throw him down by a push with his foot against the head or breast, and continued to hold him down with his foot until he was called off by some of the inmates of the house, when he would quickly release his prisoner, and allow him to pass. - Godwin's Emigrant's Guide to Van Diemens Land, London, 1823.

• Mary Reibey, ex-convict and businesswoman, had recently visited England (1820-21) with her daughters. Audiences were held spellbound by her descriptions of colonial life and the behaviour of her household pets.

Lady convicts bash shipboard party-pooper!

Six women conspired to murder me and did actually form a mutiny of an alarming nature, in which I was knocked down in the (ship's) prison, beaten, and kicked. - James Hall, surgeon on the female transport, Brothers , 12 December, 1823.

• Hall lacked tact. He was attempting to interfere in the ladies' right to prostitute themselves with the crew. Hall, making his third voyage as a convict surgeon, was described as a zealous, interfering and meddlesome individual. Indeed. after the Brothers' voyage to Hobart, he was denied a land grant in NSW on the grounds he was an introduced pest.

Aborigines play by the rules

A man by the name of Miller a settler ... shot a native and it appears without any cause or provocation. They (the aborigines) came immediately to me at Campbells River for protection and demanding justice, saying if they did not get satisfaction they would kill Miller and some of his children. I had told them some days previous if the white men ill-treated them they were to go and complain to Major Morisset who would punish the white men which they perfectly understood and they promised at the same time not to kill the white men or the stock. Miller is committed to take his trial. - Settler William Lawson, near Bathurst, to Colonial Secretary Frederick Goulburn, Sydney, 22 December, 1823.

• James Morisset had succeeded Lawson a month before as commandant at Bathurst and dealt wisely with the black v. white confrontations which occurred in the area in 1823-24. Eventually, he also retired to farm in the area.

Agonising death notice

We are requested to publish the following by Mr Solomon Levey. Death - on Friday the 30th ult. Mrs Ann Levey, the wife of S. Levey, No. 72 George St, Sydney. Her hurt resulted in a hurt from the brutal treatment of her seducer, joined with his inhumanity in not allowing her medical advice for four months past ... - Sydney Gazette , 5 February, 1824.

• This extraordinary death notice was inserted by Levey, an emancipist and one of the wealthiest men in Sydney. Ann Levey was fifteen when they married in 1819. She ran away with her lover, but apparently died of maltreatment. Levey became a huge investor in establishing the new colony in Western Australia, but lost heavily.

Popular governor leaves Hobart

... the people followed him en masse to the shore, all eager to to manifest their regard to receive a parting glance - the sorrowing countenances around giving how much he was beloved, and thus parted Colonel William Sorell, than whom a more popular ruler never swayed the destinies of British subjects. - Eyewitness, Hobart, 16 May, 1824.

• Sorell had replaced the dissolute Thomas Davey as Lieut Governor in 1817 and immediately set about tackling the colony's appalling bushranger crisis; it seemed that the real ruler of Van Diemens Land was the runaway convict, Michael Howe, 'Governor of the Woods'. Sorell solved the problem in less than eighteen months.

Lament for Macquarie

'Hark! O'er the waves the plaints of mourning rise,

And Grief's black ministers pervade the skies,

And a sad voice pervades from yonder shore,

"Weep, Nation, weep! Macquarie is no more" .' - Sydney, 1 July, 1824.

• Macquarie's death in London caused widespread mourning in NSW, including this lament from the teenage Charles Tompson, a Currency Lad.

Arthur's feeble-minded ally does his bidding

He is a pleasant, lively, talkative youth who has neither thought nor read deeply upon any subject ... generally well-informed although not profound in his own profession as a lawyer. I am afraid he is something of spendthrift. He is coming out to Van Diemens Land to live by the law. - Letter from lawyer James Stephen, London, to Lieut Governor George Arthur, Hobart, 31 July, 1824.

• Stephen gave this unenthusiastic reference on behalf of his cousin, Alfred Stephen, aged 22, to the newly-appointed lieut governor of Van Diemens Land. When Alfred arrived in Hobart in January, 1825, Arthur immediately appointed him solicitor-general as an ally against his fast-growing army of enemies. He pursued Arthur's causes with great vigour and his mentor's foes became his own. In 1839, he was appointed to the NSW bench in Sydney and eventually became Chief Justice of NSW in 1845.

Musquito escapes, organises VDL revenge parties

In 1823, a NSW aborigine, Musquito, was transported to Van Diemens Land for killing his wife. He quickly escaped and began organising large bands of natives into war parties. They were apparently bent on avenging certain misdeeds committed by white stockkeepers and others. The Hobart Town Gazette reported on 6 August, 1824:

Last Tuesday, two stockkeepers to Mr. James Hobbs came to town from their master's premises at the Eastern Marshes (where that Gentleman possesses an extensive run for grazing his cattle) bringing intelligence that a tribe of no less than two hundred Natives had made their appearance there, and that they had killed by spear wounds one of their fellow servants, named James Doyle. From the information which we have received it appears, that soon after the Natives became visible, the stockmen fired, in the hope that it would not only frighten but deter them from approaching the house. This had not however its desired effect; for, owing to the fire-arms being improperly discharged all at once, and not having time to charge again, the Natives one and all suddenly advanced, thereby compelling the men instantly to retreat, leaving their fallen companion on the ground, as well as the cattle and premises at the mercy of the tribe. The men are still in town, and such is the fear they entertain, that nothing can persuade them to return to their abandoned occupation. All the property that was in the house has been taken by the Natives, who are also supposed to have driven away some of Mr. Hobbs' milch cows which are missing.

Although we cannot help expressing our regret in having to record such lamentable perpetrations as the foregoing, yet it is but justice to the poor untutored Natives to say, that the mischievous disposition which they have lately shown towards us, is chiefly to be ascribed to the unprovoked aggressions that have long since been perpetrated upon them by stock-keepers and others; of which, it appears to us, they are now becoming sensible, owing perhaps in a great measure to the knowledge which they must have gained from Musquito and other blacks, who have been brought up amongst Europeans, lately joining them. The many recent unfortunate deaths of stockmen afford the sad example of the imprudence of molesting the Natives, who have always been considered the most harmless race of people in the world; and have consequently never been known to show their revenge until with these last few months. We are credibly informed, that no Natives are now to be observed on any part of the coast, which is in some measure accounted for by the great number seen in the Interior, where it is apprehended the Aborigines in general have lately formed themselves into one formidable body. Dogs of the English breed have also been perceived in considerable numbers with the Natives, whose remarkable fondness for them is such, that they have been noticed to carry in their travels young pups which are unable to walk.

That the rapid increase of these dogs must eventually prove injurious to the Natives as well as the Colony, cannot be denied; for they must in course of time destroy nearly all these people's principal staff of life - the game, of which they have already given us a specimen, by killing in several places Kangaroo to an unknown extent. On one spot from 50 to 60 fine large foresters, weighing from 50 to 150 lbs each, have been discovered, lying dead in a heap. It has likewise been ascertained, that these dogs have even attacked some tame cattle, while the Natives have speared them. One person has had two or three bullocks killed in this manner.

Since writing the above, we have if in our power to state, that another poor fellow has been speared by Musquito at Pitt Water. The man it seems was enticed from his house by Musquito cooeeying till he brought him within his reach, when he drove the spear into his back, while returning to get him some bread. The weapon broke in the wound, and the unfortunate man has in consequence suffered much in having it extracted.

But, after two years, Musquito was captured ...

Inevitably, Musquito was caught and sentenced to hang. On 25 February, 1825, the Hobart Town Gazette reported:

This morning Henry McConnell, for bushranging and burglary; James Bryan, Jeremiah Ryan, Charles Ryder, Musquito, a Sydney black, and Black Jack, a native of this Colony, for murder, John Logan, for shooting with intent to murder Mr. Shoobridge, and Peter Thackery, for stealing in a dwelling-house, and putting the owner in bodily fear, were executed according to their sentence - a sad example of the fate which sooner or later must overtake the enormities of which they had been convicted. On this occasion, for the first time, the Scaffold was erected within the Gaol-walls, but in view of the town; and we should not be doing justice to the newly-appointed Sheriff, if we failed to state that the whole of the melancholy arrangements reflected credit to his feelings, as an Officer and a Gentleman. The unhappy men on ascending the Platform, displayed a becoming humility, expressed their deep remorse, and, after singing an appropriate hymn, joined in most fervent and pathetic supplications to the throne of mercy. They then requested their clerical assistant, Mr. Bedford, to address, on their behalf, the assembled spectators, which he immediately did in words or to the effect following: 'My dear Friends, It is the anxious wish of these our dying fellow sinners, that I should thus in public, acknowledge for them the justice of their condemnation and that I should call upon you to repent, `for the kingdom of heaven is at hand. They implore you to take warning from their ignominious end; they entreat in this their last hour that you will turn from the error of your ways to the Lord your God, for he will have mercy. Yes, my brethren, these poor unhappy fellow-worms whose lives have become forfeited to the laws of violated justice and humanity, implore you all to shun the path that leads to death - to avoid bad company - to be industrious, sober, and slow to anger - to be obedient, honest, and religious. May their prayers be answered, may their fate be impressed with salutary force on your recollection, and may you now successfully join me and them in cries to the Redeemer for their pardon in another world.' This address proved very affecting, and the hapless offenders after a short interval were launched into eternity. The whole of the officers in attendance were in deep mourning.

Before he went to meet his Maker, Musquito is said to have commented: Hanging no good for black man. When asked why it was good for a white man, but no good for a black man, he said: Very good for whitefellow. He used to it.

Bad dreams: Be alert but not alarmed

The convicts have lately been observed talking in bodies in whispers together. - Guard Commander Lieut John Dalrymple, aboard the convict transport, Mangles , 19 August, 1824.

• Dalrymple reported on an alleged mutiny by convicts on 15 August. A sentry reported that the miscreants were massing to take over the ship. The guard and crew turned out to meet the threat. It transpired the convicts were all asleep, but the sentry had the nightmares.

Hume and Hovell cross the Murray

I named Hume's river he being the first that saw it. - Explorer William Hovell, Murray River, NSW, 16 November, 1824.

• Hovell and Hamilton Hume bickered all the way from NSW to the present site of Geelong (they had intended to go to Westernport, but finished their journey 70km west after Hovell made a small navigation error). They crossed the Hume, later Murray, at the present site of Albury.

Governor loses war of wits, but triumphs in end

It has occasioned the Lieut Governor much concern that the continued outrages of the two prisoners, McCabe and Brady, have led to the death of another settler. His Honour has directed that a reward of 25 pounds shall be given for the apprehension of either of these men. - Notice from Lieut Governor George Arthur, Hobart, 14 April, 1825.

It has caused Matthew Brady much concern that such a person known as Sir George Arthur is at large. Twenty gallons of rum will be given to any person that will deliver his person to me. - Notice from Matthew Brady, 'Mountain Home', Van Diemens Land, 20 April, 1825.

• Brady's celebrated career ended on the gallows on 4 May, 1826, after he was captured by John Batman, a founder of Melbourne, and several black trackers.

Brisbane fibs to London to establish Moreton Bay

As Port Macquarie has become almost useless as a penal Settlement from the many facilities afforded to the escape of Prisoners by the extension of Settlers along Hunter's River, and as Norfolk Island would not be sufficient to contain the persons whom it is found necessary to remove for minor offences to remote parts of the Colony, I have thought it would not be assuming an unsound discretion, if I should take measures for immediately preparing Moreton Bay for the reception of Prisoners ... - Governor Sir Thomas Brisbane, Sydney, to Lord Bathurst, Secretary for Colonies, London, 21 May, 1825.

• Brisbane had to word his dispatch carefully because he was defying express instructions from London where the feeling was that Moreton Bay should be reserved for free settlers, in view of John Oxley's discovery of the Brisbane River in 1823.

Views on transportation

The Mother Country should defray the Expenses of the miserable outcasts from whom she is relieved so long as Van Diemens Land continues a penal colony. - Lieut Governor George Arthur, Hobart, to Lord Bathurst, Secretary for Colonies, 3 July, 1825.

• This letter was well received in London. Arthur went on to suggest that the colony could afford to support its own non-convict infrastructure and, when it eventually ceased to be a penal colony, would cost Britain nothing.

Kindly Lockyer navigates 190km of Brisbane River

At 8.30 embarked and proceeded up the river. The hills beautifully covered with pine trees of large size, the banks as before with swamp oak, honey-suckle, blue gum and ironbark. We this day for the first time saw some natives; ordered the boats to pull up to the shore on which they stood. After a little hesitation, and the sight of a looking glass which I held up, they ventured down within a few yards; gave them some biscuit, showed them two sheep we had in the boat; at the sight of them, their astonishment was great, as also at two of the soldiers of the 40th Regiment, who had very red hair; from their manner it was evident that the colour of these soldiers' hair was a matter of great curiosity to them as well as their red jackets. They were perfectly naked, stout, clean-skinned, well made people and showed no symptoms whatsoever of hostility. From the short intercourse I had with them, I do not think they had ever seen a European before. - Major Edmund Lockyer's journal, Brisbane River, 14 September, 1825.

• Lockyer explored to river in detail after John Oxley's discovery in 1823. Governor Sir Thomas Brisbane had already decided to establish the penal station of Moreton Bay there. Lockyer's considerate treatment of the aborigines contrasts with Thomas Mitchell's pre-emptive strike mentality. Indeed, the pleasantness of the whole exercise contrasts with his 40th (2nd Somersetshire) Regiment's later posting in Australia when another generation of its soldiers were involved in the bloodshed at Eureka Stockade on 3 December, 1854.

'The demons had murdered her infant'

It is with feelings of the utmost horror, that we have to make public the following appalling circumstance. On Saturday last, Jeffrey (Thomas Jefferies), the notorious villain, who lately broke out of the Launceston watch-house, accompanied with the two miscreants who followed him, after having robbed Mr. Barnard's hut, proceeded to the residence of a respectable Settler named Tibbs, about 5 miles from Launceston. They arrived there about noon. Mr Tibbs an his wife, a young and respectable woman, to whom he had been married about two years, with their child, and a servant of a neighbouring Settler, named Basham, were in the house. The ruffians attempted to bind them, but, upon their offering resistance, these diabolical murderers shot them both (the men). The man (Basham) fell dead; Mr. Tibbs was dangerously wounded, but he escaped with his life, and contrived to give an alarm. The whole town of Launceston, with one accord, rushed out after the murderous villains; but the unhappy female and her child were gone. About 3 o'clock on Sunday, she returned to her forlorn residence. She was in a state of distraction. The demons had murdered her infant. We cannot relate the rest. The agitation this dreadful event has excited is beyond expression. We hope and trust the execrable monsters may be quickly brought to condign punishment. - Colonial Times, Hobart, 6 January, 1826.

• Thomas Jefferies killed the infant Mrs Tibbs was carrying because the child slowed her down. Earlier, they had escaped from the penal station at Macquarie Harbour, in western Van Diemens Land and, while on the run, had killed and eaten one of their companions, Russell.

A 'vast harvest of transportable crime'

I admit the inefficiency of transportation to Botany Bay, but the whole subject of that is called secondary punishment is full of difficulty ... arising mainly ... from the vast harvest of transportable crime that is reaped in every assize. - Sir Robert Peel, Home Secretary, London, to Sydney Smith, writer and reformer, London, 24 March, 1826 .

• Peel, considered to be one of Britain's great statesmen, had formed the London Police Force ('known as 'Peelers') to fight the growing crime caused by industrial dislocation. He wrestled with the problem of transportation. In 1827, the numbers bound for Botany Bay doubled, but Peel knew it could not last forever. NSW, he said, was 'gradually exchanging for the character of a prosperous colony its original one as a penal settlement'. Transportation to NSW ended in 1840.

Runaway convict cannibal Jefferies goes to the gallows

On Saturday (22 April, 1826), Jefferies the murderer, Perry, and Hopkins, were found guilty of stealing a gun, meat, and other articles, from the dwelling-house of Joseph Railton, near Launceston. They had been brought up (before Justice John Pedder, Supreme Court) on the Thursday previous, but owing to the absence of a witness on the part of Hopkins, the trial was postponed. Jefferies and Perry were afterwards arraigned for the murder of Mr Tibbs's child, an infant only five months old. When Mrs Tibbs came into Court, and her eye glanced on the insatiate murderers of her babe, she was so affected as to be unable to stand. Her situation powerfully excited the commiseration of every one present. The bare recital of the dreadful journey which the monster had compelled her to take with him in the woods, was a painful addition to her sufferings. When it was necessary for her to look at the prisoners, in order to prove their persons, the suddenness with which she withdrew her eyes, and the tears with which the effort was accompanied, was an instance of detestation more strongly depicted than any assembly of spectators perhaps ever witnessed. The child was proved to have been taken away from the arms of the mother, and killed by Jefferies and Russell, and its remains were discovered about a week afterwards in a decayed state, and mangled by the carnivorous animals in the woods. When Mrs Tibbs had asked Jefferies, who called himself Captain, and was dressed in a long black coat, red waistcoat, and kangaroo skin cap, to point out the place where she might find the body, he said 'it was no odds it had not suffered a moment's pain in leaving the world,' and both he and Russell, who was afterwards shot and partly eaten by the monster, expressed themselves as regarding the life of a child as nothing. Both the prisoners were found guilty; the trial lasted till 11 at night. - Hobart Town Gazette, 29 April, 1826.

Darling meets Macarthur ... and is not amused

... so far I have never met with a more quiet, orderly and better disposed set of people ... the only instances of disorder which have come to my knowledge, have been at those meetings, at which Mr Macarthur has taken the lead. - Governor Sir Ralph Darling, Sydney, 1 May, 1826.

• John Macarthur liked to let successive Governors know he was still alive. His concerns were to maintain the domination of the 'Pure Merinos' in a rapidly changing colonial society, and the establishment of the Australian Agricultural Company, our first multinational.

Duntroon ... the future site of Canberra squatted

... situate at Canberry, on the E. bank of the river which waters Limestone Plains, above its junction with the Murrumbeedja, adjoining the grant of Mr Robert Campbell snr. - Joshua Moore's application to buy 1000 acres, 16 December, 1826.

• This is the first recorded use of the name which became Canberra, Australia's national capital. The Campbell family had named their run Duntroon, after the family home in Scotland. By 1826, the Campbells' land holdings extended to the Snowy River and Robert Campbell, the patriarch, moved from Sydney to take up residence in 1830 at Duntroon.

Lockyer wasn't impressed with the local girls

I think I never saw so miserable an object in the shape of a Female. - Major Edmund Lockyer, King George Sound, Western Australia, 22 January, 1827.

• Lockyer landed at the present site of Albany, then called Frederickstown, on Christmas Day, 1826, with a party of soldiers and convicts to prevent a possible French takeover. If he failed to take kindly to the local aboriginal women, the tribespeople were equally unimpressed with him, constantly harassing the new arrivals.

Darling abandons outlandish punishment scheme

Previously to my coming out, I had formed a Plan, with a view to the prevention of crime at Home, of working all Convicts in Irons on the public works for a certain period after their arrival; at the expirations of which I had purposed to assign them to Settlers, and, in the event of misconduct, of replacing them in Road Gangs. Their employment on the Roads in Irons, in the first instance, would have rendered their assignment to the Settlers a desirable release from a painful and degraded situation; and in proportion to their dread of being so employed, they would have behaved to their Masters so as to avoid being returned to the Government. But as the demand for labour was so urgent, at the time of my arrival, I was obliged to relinquish the intention of disposing of them in the manner above mentioned, and to assign them at once to the Settlers. - Governor Sir Ralph Darling, Sydney, to Lord Bathurst, Secretary for Colonies, London, 1 March, 1827.

• Darling was soon seen as 'limited, cold, formal' by colonial society, as the illiberal means of crowd control expressed in his letter to Bathurst indicates.

Impressions of the sites of Perth and Fremantle, 1827

As the stream is ascended the banks became extremely beautiful and picturesque. Their beauty is enhanced by by lofty trees which occasionally adorn them and by the bright green pendulous foliage with which the Shrubs are covered. - Capt James Stirling, Swan River, Western Australia, 8 March, 1827.

• Stirling was sent to the present sites of Fremantle and Perth with the express intention of frustrating any French intentions there. Two years later, he returned as lieut governor (later governor) .

I distinctly heard the bellowing of some huge animal, similar to that of an ox, proceeding from an internal marsh. - Botanist Charles Fraser, Swan River, Western Australia, 9 March, 1827.

• Some people have suggested he heard the 'booming' of a bittern, but Fraser, being a colonial old hand, should have known it was a bunyip.

The richness of the soil, the bright foliage of the shrubs, the majesty of the surrounding trees, the abrupt and red-coloured banks of the river occasionally seen and the blue summits of the mountains from which we were not far distant made the scenery around this spot as beautiful as anything of the kind I had ever witnessed. - Capt James Stirling, Swan River, Western Australia, 13 March, 1827.

• Stirling probably decided then to recommend to the British Government the establishment of a colony of free men and women. Later, he was in England, languishing on half-pay and agitating for colonisation, when the government decided to found the Swan River Settlement, administered directly from London.

Strewth! Cockney turns into an Australian accent

The London mode of pronunciation has been duly grafted on the colloquial dialect of our Currency youths ... this is accounted for by the number of individuals from London and its vicinity who speak in this manner. - Peter Cunningham, Two Years In New South Wales , 1827.

• This is probably the first published observation on the origins of the Australian accent. Cunningham, then in his late-thirties, was a naval surgeon who attempted farming in NSW but was defeated by drought and returned to England. He made a close study of the Australian-born children of convicts.

A gentleman's delicate turn of phrase

The wild buoyancy of their dispositions being bridled by the severe restraints imposed upon them, they were like wanton colts loosed from their stall when they landed ... and broke out into all manner of extravagances. - Peter Cunningham, Two Years In New South Wales , 1827.

• So, too, would Cunningham if he were a 27-year-old (average age) convict woman trapped for months in a floating prison. Anyway, their First Fleet aunts did something similar on 6 February, 1788.

Blacksmith takes on Pure Merino multinational .... and wins!

On 22 March, 1827, a not-so-humble blacksmith, John Adams, a free immigrant, took on the might of Australia's Purest Merino establishment and won a memorable victory. He charged the Australian Agricultural Company with trespass and false imprisonment at its vast land grant at Port Stephens, 32 km north of Newcastle. Of course, it helped that Adams' lawyer was the anti-establishment gentleman, William Charles Wentworth ...

Mr. W. C. Wentworth stated the case, (reported the Sydney Gazette .) The plaintiff came out to the Colony from England as an indentured servant of the Australian Agricultural Company (AAC) , and was placed under the directions of the defendant (Robert Dawson), as Agent for the Company, at their Settlement, at Port Stephens ... Mr. John Grimsey Dawson, nephew to the defendant, having, as the plaintiff (Adams) believed, no authority over any person at the Settlement, came up to the shop where he was at work, and asked him what he was doing. The plaintiff told him that he was at some work for one of the overseers, which Mr. John Dawson desired him immediately to lay aside, and to obey the order of a man named Cowell. The plaintiff observed, that he would not work under Cowell, who knew nothing of his business, he being a brickmaker and the plaintiff a blacksmith, at all events, not without the express orders of Mr. Robert Dawson, whose authority alone he believed himself subject to. Mr John Dawson rode away, and, at some little distance from the plaintiff's workshop, meeting with a constable named Byron, verbally directed him to go and take the plaintiff into custody. Byron accordingly proceeded on his errand, with a drawn sword in his hand, which, when he came within a short distance of the plaintiff's workshop, he began very leisurely sharpening on a stone, and when properly got in order he went up to the plaintiff and told him that he had been directed by Mr John Dawson to take him into custody. 'Where is your warrant?' says Adams, 'I am a free man, and will not stir a step without proper authority.' Byron began brandishing his sword, but the plaintiff, being an old soldier, snatched a red hot bar of iron out of the fire, held it up to his nose, and desired him to smell it. Byron very quickly decamped; and the plaintiff immediately went to the tent of the defendant, where, however, the nephew (John Grimsey Dawson) having arrived before him with the first story, and the defendant (Robert Dawson) addressed the plaintiff (John Adams), on his entrance, with. 'I'll punish you, I'll settle you, you shall have three months in Newcastle gaol,' and the very same evening Byron came with a warrant, and took the plaintiff before the defendant, where a committal was already drawn up, and without a tittle of evidence being read over to him, or an opportunity of rebutting it, if any were taken, being afforded him, he was committed to the gaol at Newcastle for three months, to be kept to hard labour, and confined for that night in a black hole about six or eight feet long, and four or five feet wide, where, by favour, he procured a piece of bark to keep his body from the wet that was on the ground, until the following morning, when he was conveyed to Newcastle, and delivered over to the gaoler. It was not necessary, observed Mr. Wentworth, to dissect the warrant itself very particularly for, by the 43d section of the New South Wales Act, whose provisions were expressly incorporated in the Company's Act, it was clear that the case altogether was one in which the defendant had not the slightest jurisdiction; that Act, whilst it gives a summary jurisdiction to Magistrates, expressly providing that the complaint shall be upon oath; before two Justices of the Peace. The defendant, he contended, must have known this. He must have known that the matter, into which he indecently and improperly presumed to enquire, was one over which he had no jurisdiction; and, that he did know it, was clear from the very circumstance of his having awarded the full amount of the punishment allotted by the Act. It would be proved also, that Mr John Dawson the complainant on this occasion, was the nephew of the defendant, a circumstance which would, of itself alone, in the mind of any but an arbitrary man, have prevented him from interfering between him and a servant ... (etc etc) ... He (Mr. Wentworth) had heard of the Spanish Inquisition; it was certainly in some cases worse than the present, for there a confession was extorted from the blood and bones of the wretched being who unfortunately came within its fangs, but, even there, even in the Inquisition, though the offender is not allowed to see his accuser (etc etc) His Honor, Mr. Justice (John) Stephen, told the (Supreme Court) Jury, that the admission of the defendant's Counsel, of his having acted contrary to the law, had prevented the necessity of any remarks from him on that subject. The verdict, therefore, should be for the plaintiff, and the only question for the consideration of the Jury was, the amount of damages to which he was entitled. The Assessors, after a short consultation, returned a verdict for the plaintiff, and assessed damages at 50 pounds.

• The Australian Agricultural Company was founded in London in 1824 by an Act of the British Parliament with one million pounds of shares and a promised one million acres of 'waste lands' in NSW. Its shareholders included two British Cabinet ministers and twenty-nine MPs. Blacksmith Adams was one of 700 skilled indentured tradesmen imported by the company to handle tasks beyond the skills of the company's convicts (of which it had more than its share, each wearing his/her identifying badge). Adams and Wentworth had an important victory for the rights of the common man in a partially-democratised NSW.

On 6 April, however, the Monitor (the people's pal) was not entirely satisfied: .... Our readers will recollect our giving a narrative of the oppression endured by the Plaintiff, who is a blacksmith, and who was the indented servant of the Agricultural Corporation, by the illegal conduct of the Defendant ... We were astonished to think that the Assessors gave only 50 pounds damages. The sufferings of Adams were great. The conduct of the Defendant was most illegal and oppressive. And when it is recollected that Adams has a family of grown-up daughters all depending on him for protection - that he was separated from them and sent to a distant gaol, where from poverty he was compelled to live on gaol allowance and sleep without bed or blanket, we are astonished the Assessors should have given such small damages. We think (the assessors should) have awarded 200 pounds ... Mr Justice Stephen, in summing up, took occasion to comment on the inequitability of the agreement (between Adams and the AAC), because it stipulated that if Adams failed in his duty in the least particular, he was to pay a penalty of 200 pounds whereas the Company were under no penalty at all. This agreement is not very creditable to the Company.

• Dawson ('the defendant') was selected in England by the heirs of John Macarthur, who dominated the board of the AAC. No sooner had he arrived in NSW than the Macarthurs and their cronies began selling him their old and diseased stock. In June, 1827, he protested to John Macarthur, junior: I was no longer disposed to make the Company Grant a burial ground for all the old sheep in the colony. This bad attitude made him enemies among the local wool barons and they had him dismissed in 1829. However, the London board recognised its error and restored his reputation (but, alas, not his job), with the statement: The misconduct of Mr Dawson is far exceeded in culpability by that of the (Australian) Committee whose orders he had to obey.

You'd almost feel sorry for the plausible rogue,

Finding from these disheartening failures, that I had nothing to hope for but a continuance of suffering and bodily fatigue, far above my strength, for many succeeding years, perhaps the remainder of my life; surely no dispassionate reader will pronounce me culpable, or consider that I had deviated from the resolutions I had formed, to act correctly while I lived, if I listened with eagerness to an offer in effecting my escape from a state of bondage which became every day more irksome and galling, in proportion as I reflected that my inoffensive conduct fairly entitled me to a share of that favour an indulgence that I saw every day extended to objects I knew less worthy than myself. - The Memoirs of James Hardy Vaux, Including His Vocabulary of the Flash Language , London, 1827.

• Vaux, a swindler and thief, was the only person known to have been transported to NSW three times. The first time was in 1807 and that last in 1831. In his memoirs, he recalled his feelings after his return from secondary transportation to Newcastle about 1814. He hoped to be given a cushy clerical position, but instead was sentenced to a labouring task. He was released and disappeared in NSW in 1841.

Hobart sets an Australian one-day record

Martin Higgins, a short thick man aged twenty-six ... had the rope next put around his neck. On the night previous to his execution he sent for a little boy in the penitentiary, named Riley, purposely that he might take warning by his miserable end. 'Do not do as they do in the penitentiary. There are many that I should have been sent for, but I wanted you to see that situation that I am in'. - Hobart Town Gazette, 7 July, 1827.

• Higgins was one of eighteen 'incorrigibles' sentenced to death in one day. The newspaper reporter said he had never seen so many men resigned to death.

Nature's creatures, you betcha

The young girls are of mild-tempered, modest disposition, possessing much simplicity of character; and, like of children of nature, credulous and easily led into error. The lower classes are anxious to get into respectable service, from a laudable wish to be independent, and escape from the tutelage of their often profligate parents. - Peter Cunningham, Two Years in NSW , London, 1827.

• Cunningham's generous view of the good, average Currency Lass might have differed from their own view of themselves. Service was the last thing they would have wished.

Pregnant pause

Mrs Mitchell is not very fond of this country. - Surveyor General Major Thomas Mitchell, Sydney, to his mother, Janet, Craigend, Scotland, 1 February, 1828.

• It's a wonder she had time to form any opinion; she was constantly pregnant. But Mitchell was contented enough. Having only arrived the previous September, he was about to be promoted to surveyor-general to replace the dying John Oxley.

Advantages of transportation

(The) entire removal of the individual to a new scene of life affords at once the only security to society against his future crimes and the contagion of his habits, and the only chance left for himself of regaining decency and respectability. - Quarterly Review , London, 1828.

• Debate on crime and punishment continued to absorb the folk of England. The convicts appear to be equally divided on whether they wished to be transported to a more congenial climate.

Darling accused of conspiracy

Whatever your motives may have been (and I am bound to suppose they were unexceptionable), yet it would be vain the expect from the Public at large any other construction than that you were endeavouring by this use of your power to harass a political opponent. - Sir George Murray, Secretary for Colonies, London, to Governor Sir Ralph Darling, Sydney, 30 August, 1828.

• Darling attempted to get even with his deadly political enemies, the editors of the independent Australian and Monitor , by ordering the withdrawal of their assigned convict servants. Someone tipped off Murray and he reprimanded the martinet governor severely!

Peel's four million acre land grab

... the family of Mr Secretary Peel, already one of the wealthiest in the kingdom from commercial pursuits, has been provided for in a manner almost unprecedented. - Farmer's Chronicle and Commercial Gazette , London, 11 November, 1828.

• Rumblings of discontent were being heard about the division of Swan River land. And the first emigrant ship had not even sailed!

The undersigned propose to provide Shipping for the purposes of taking out 10,000 of His Majesty's subjects from England, Ireland and Scotland (over four years) to to the Settlement at Swan River, and to find them in provisions and every other Necessary usually allowed to Emigrants. - Thomas Peel and other members of his syndicate to Sir George Murray, Secretary for Colonies, London, 14 November, 1828.

• Peel, a lawyer and heir to cotton mills, wanted four million acres of land, but the British Government would grant only one million.

Although it is the intention of His Majesty's Government to form a settlement on the western coast of Australia, the Government do not intend to incur any expense in conveying settlers or in supplying them with necessaries after their arrival. - Robert Hay, Undersecretary for Colonies, London, 5 December, 1828.

Thomas Mitchell, arch-whinger, complains again

At present I am confined to Sydney ... a Captain Sturt has been sent well equipped on an excursion to the interior, a duty my predecessor considered as belonging to his Department. - Surveyor General Thomas Mitchell, Sydney, to Robert Hay, Undersecretary for Colonies, London, 15 December, 1828.

• This was a private letter and indicates the jealous and vexatious manner which would plague those dealing with Mitchell for the next 25 years.

Hobart complains about inferior class of convicts

Idiots, madmen and cripples, with boys, ignorant clerks and weakly, idle pickpockets, constitute a considerable proportion of every importation of convicts. - Lieut Governor George Arthur, Hobart, to Sir George Murray, Secretary for Colonies, London, 10 February, 1829.

I have understood that no convicts of either Sex are ever sent from Ireland to Van Diemens Land. I have not been informed of the reason, but unless it is one of importance, I would be to suggest that this Colony may be relieved of a portion of the Irish convicts, particularly the women sent here. - Governor Sir Ralph Darling, Sydney, to Sir George Murray, Secretary for Colonies, London, 18 February, 1829.

• The census of 1828 had produced the alarming news that one-third of the population of NSW were Catholics. It was a fact that the majority of Irish prisoners went to NSW. And there were dark suggestions that Lieut Governor George Arthur, an arch-Protestant, was attempting to keep Van Diemens Land free of the Papist taint.

Beginning of a satisfying life for quiet achiever

Today we crossed the Line. I wonder what the future will bring forth? - John Septimus Roe, aboard the ship, Parmelia , March, 1829.

• Roe, Western Australia's first Surveyor-General, was to have a long and honourable career, influencing several explorers, including John and Alexander Forrest, with his meticulous mapping. His wife, Matilda, bore him thirteen children. Roe first visited Australia as a Royal Navy midshipman in 1817, producing a fascinating journal illustrated with fine watercolours. It is now in the Battye Library, Perth, where he died. One of his last diary entries: I have not been an idle man in my life.

Britain possesses whole Australian continent

... all that part of New Holland that is not included in the Territory of New South Wales. - Capt. Charles Fremantle, Swan River, 2 May, 1829.

• With Fremantle's declaration, Great Britain now possessed the entire Australian continent. Colonisation plans had already been formulated in London, with Thomas Peel heading an ambitious syndicate of free settlers.

Perth founded: ducks, geese etc 'decently paired'

Notice is hereby given that on 12th August, the day on which his Gracious Majesty was born, the first stone will be laid of a New Town to be called Perth, near the estuary of the Swan River ... - Proclamation, Swan River Settlement, Western Australia, 27 July, 1829.

Horses, cattle, sheep, goats, geese and ducks, decently paired and comfortably accommodated, crowded the upper decks; and the bulwarks of the vessel were kept warm by bundles of hay lashed to her sides. - Manchester Guardian , 8 August, 1829.

• The emigrant ship, Gilmore , joined the exodus from England on 18 July, 1829. Her 200 passengers included Thomas Peel and his family. Peel was the commercial founder of the colony, but he been much-maligned for his apparent bumbling attempts to establish orderly land distribution and his dreadfully bad temper. But he was frustrated by the failure of his London agents to deliver supplies. The British Government's lack of interest didn't help, either.

WA clear-felling begins to rousing cheers

On the 12th, our party increased and there being no stone contiguous for our purpose, Mrs Dance cut down a tree; fired Volleys, made Speeches and gave several cheers; named the Town Perth according to the wishes of Sir George Murray. - Capt Charles Fremantle, Perth, 12 August, 1829.

• Helen Dance, wife of Captain John Dance, of the warship, Sulphur , another one of those lady tourists, had the honour of being the first European to chop down a tree in Perth in Western Australia by default; she was the only one of the leading ladies not encumbered by childbirth.

It is said that the most valuable part of the land at Swan River has already been parcelled out among three persons who have no intention of emigrating. One of them is the illegitimate son of a late Royal Duke, another an illegitimate son of a late Noble Lord ... Hobart Town Courier , 5 September, 1829.

• This delicious sort of calumny was the IN thing in the early 19th century. But misgivings were already being expressed in London about the division of land.

Mitchell whinges about Charles Sturt (again)

I shall not trouble you with any observation on the equipment now in progress for Captain Sturt, the Governor's relative, for a second exploring expedition ... - Surveyor-general Thomas Mitchell, Sydney, to Undersecretary Hay, London, 10 October, 1829.

• Sturt was said to be related to Governor Sir Ralph Darling by some distant marriage, but there is no evidence that it brought any advantage to him.

Mitchell reassured by mates in high places

Allusions made so often in your dispatches to some secret enemy whom you suppose to have prejudiced you in the opinion of H.M. Govt ... there is not the slightest ground for any such apprehension. No private representation against you has ever been made. - Sir George Murray, Secretary for Colonies, London, to Governor Sir Ralph Darling, Sydney, 10 October, 1829.

• There's no deceit here! Murray was an old patron of Mitchell's from their army days and, of course, Hay's direct superior.

5. 1830-1839

'I never look at the sea without lamenting our poor, dear children' - (Settler Sarah Brunskill, bound for South Australia, late-1838)

THIS was the age of glorious expansion and, sadly, the crushing of the aborigines of south-eastern Australia. Men and their uncomplaining womenfolk overlanded from NSW to the pastures of the Port Phillip District; others crossed with their flocks from Van Diemens Land; many more crammed aboard ships in Britain and sailed hopefully to the infant settlements at Perth, Adelaide and Melbourne. There were convicts, too, but the era of transportation to NSW was coming to an end. The old colonists were fading away. John Macarthur, mentally ill and separated from his wife, Elizabeth, died in 1834; Charles Throsby had committed suicide in 1828; Gregory Blaxland became a recluse and his suicide in 1853 was barely noted; George Johnston, said to have been the first man ashore at Sydney Cove on 26 January, 1788, died in 1823.

The first settlers in Western Australia arrived with their lieut governor, James Stirling, aboard the vessels, Parmelia and Sulphur , on 1 June, 1829. A procession of other ships arrived and the population soon reached 2000. Land was parcelled out freely, but the immigrants failed in the face of the unaccustomed harshness of the land and the severity of the summer climate. Many went to other colonies or returned to Britain. It had all the elements of the Darien disaster of the late-1600s when the Scottish Company attempted to colonise the Isthmus of Panama. It was years before the new colony escaped from its precarious plight. The Port Phillip District (Victoria) was invaded by the Henty brothers, at Portland (1834) and John Batman and John Pascoe Fawkner, at Melbourne (1835). Major Thomas Mitchell, Surveyor General of NSW, led one of his extravagant expeditions into the superb Victorian Western District, but found the Hentys already there. Governor Sir George Gipps remarked tartly in 1840 that the squatters would have found Mitchell's 'Australia Felix', anyway. In 1836, Governor John Hindmarsh led the first settlers from Britain to South Australia and, in three years, the population was 5000. Van Diemens Land was joyfully rid of the parsimonious puritan, George Arthur, on 30 October, 1836. In his twelve years as governor, he had accumulated the tidy sum of fifty thousand pounds; on the very eve of his departure, he sent men into the bush to shoot and skin possums so he could take them with him to augment his income.

In Melbourne, that free enterprise settlement, the founding fathers complemented each other perfectly: Fawkner was a publican and Batman a pisspot. Batman died, raving incoherently, at the age of just thirty-eight in 1839 of a combination of grog and syphilis. Fawkner, the abstemious little innkeeper lived to an overripe old age. In 1837, Governor Sir Richard Bourke, who had succeeded Darling in 1831, visited the settlement, changed its informal name from Bearbrass to Melbourne (after the British prime minister) and had the streets laid out in such a manner that today the cold winds blow along one way in the winter, and the hot winds blow the other in the summer. Under Bourke's otherwise intelligent and benign rule, the white population of Australia rose from 51,000 in 1831 to nearly 100,000 in 1839. Immigration, both free and forced, was primarily responsible.

Hume River renamed (after Sir George Murray)

We were launched into a broad and noble River, flowing from east to west at the rate of two and a half knots per hour. - Explorer Charles Sturt, junction of the Murrumbidgee and Murray rivers, 14 January, 1830.

• Sturt, having travelled down the Murrumbidgee in a whaleboat, discovered the Murray River (he named it after Sir George Murray, Secretary for Colonies). Hume and Hovell found it first on 16 November, 1824 and named it after Hume, who saw it first. Sturt became involved in a media-manufactured squabble with Hume.

Despair in WA: Wrong type of settlers sent

Among so many settlers there could not be a great number suited to encounter the struggle and distresses of a new settlement. Many, if not all, have been more or less disappointed on arrival either with the state of things here or their own want of power to surmount the difficulties pressing around them ... Among the setters who arrived there were many, who had been recommended to their employers by parish officers, and whose habits were of the loosest description. - Lieut Governor James Stirling, Perth, to Sir George Murray, Secretary for Colonies, London, 20 January, 1830.

Sturt at the Murray mouth after grand inland voyage

We had at length arrived at the termination of the Murray. Immediately below me was a beautiful lake, which appeared to be a fitting reservoir for the noble stream which led us to it, and which was now ruffled by the breeze which swept over it ... - Explorer Charles Sturt, Lake Alexandrina (named, astutely, after Alexandrina Victoria, future Queen [1837] of England), South Australia, 9 February, 1830.

Aborigines fail in early attempt to raze Perth!

The natives had made a large fire to drive the kangaroos. It spread rapidly owing to the dry state of the grass and reached the encampment of Mr Watson which was entirely burnt. He lost everything, I believe, except his stock. The fire reached to within a few yards of Mr Peel's store where his gunpowder was kept. - Mary Ann Friend's diary, Perth, 17 February, 1830.

• Mary Ann was one of Western Australia's first idle tourists, having come out on the vessel, Wanstead , with her husband, Captain Matthew Friend, to have a little stickybeak at the new colony somewhere near the South Pole.

George Arthur sends mixed messages on aborigines

In the Government Order of the 19th instant, the LIEUTENANT GOVERNOR announced his concern at the continued atrocities of the Aboriginal Natives, and anxiously hoping that one instance of moderation which had been manifested by these savages, might lead to others, His Excellency endeavoured to animate the Settlers to a hearty co-operation with the Government, in the adoption of measures tending, either to conciliate these People, or to expel them from the Settled Districts. The destruction of the whole of Mr. Sherwin's Premises in the Clyde District, and the threats and vindictive felling with which the act was perpetrated, together with several other outrages committed during the past week, demand an instant simultaneous and energetic proceeding on the part of the Settlers, who, it is to be regretted, have hitherto been to indifferent to the adoption of those obvious measures of protection which are more or less within the means of almost every individual. The parties employed in aid of the Police will be augmented, and in order to stimulate them to increased activity, the LIEUTENANT GOVERNOR has directed, that a Reward of FIVE POUNDS shall be given for every adult Aboriginal Native, and TWO POUNDS for every Child, who shall be captured and delivered alive at any one of the Police Stations.

It surely is not too much to expect, that in every District, the most respectable Inhabitants will forthwith confer together upon the measures most desirable for their common security, and that they will act up to them with vigour and perseverance.

His Excellency will, within a very limited period, make a Tour through the Districts, to ascertain personally, the individual effort which is made to give full effect to the measures which he now expects to be universally adopted. The repeated Orders which have been put forth by this Government, must convey the idea out of the Colony, that there exists, a horde of Savages in Van Diemens Land, whose prowess is equal to their revengeful feelings; whereas, every Settler must be conscious, that his foe consists of an inconsiderable number of a very feeble race; not possessing physical strength, and quite undistinguished by personal courage, but, who are undoubtedly daily more and more formidable from the success which has hitherto attended their unexpected and sudden attacks upon unarmed persons, and dwellings almost defenceless.

The LIEUTENANT GOVERNOR feels assured, that it is not necessary to repeat the strong injunction which the Government has invariably pressed upon the Community generally, as well as upon the parties employed more particularly, that every degree of humanity should be exercised towards the Aboriginal Natives, which is consistent with the overruling necessity of expelling them from the Settled Districts. By His Excellency's Command, J. Burnett , Hobart Town Gazette , 27 February, 1830.

Peel's grand WA scheme comes unstuck

This is to give notice to the Inhabitants of Swan River and the Public in general, that Mr Daniel Cooper, of the firm of Cooper and Levey, has no connection with the firm of Peel and Co., otherwise than having acted as their Agent , and that he will make no Advances of either Goods or Cash on account of Peel and Co. unless by the written order of Mr Solomon Levey, and then only in the event of having funds in hand of Mr Levey's not invested in, or belonging to, the firm of Cooper and Levey. - Notice, Sydney Gazette , 17 May, 1830.

• Cooper, Levey's partner, was in Sydney; Levey was in London and out of touch. Cooper, having heard gossip in Sydney about an impending catastrophe in the Swan River, deftly pulled the rug from under Thomas Peel.

Bold Jack Donohue meets Charles Sturt

Stand back boys! It's Captain Sturt and we don't rob him. - Words allegedly spoken by the runaway convict bushranger Jack ('Bold Jack') Donahue when his gang encountered the explorer Charles Sturt on his farm, 22 May, 1830.

• Sturt had recently returned to NSW after his exploration of the Murray River. Donahue was shot dead by police in September that year. (The source of the above quote, which does sound rather too good to be true, is Sturt's daughter-in-law, Beatrix Sturt in her Life of Charles Sturt, London, 1899.

1830: William IV, 'the sailor king', a raging Tory sympathiser at a time when Britain was reforming, succeeded his elder brother, George IV, to the throne on 26 June. Fears that he might be going mad, like his father, George 111, were allayed by his timely death in 1837.

'200 miles from old england...'

Captain said 6 A.B. seamen wanted to raise a mutiny. It was talking to the women (convicts). put in irons. lashed down to poop deck for 2 days. I night as mutineers. put 4 from larbert. 2 starbert watches, fire arms over our heads. 2 guns upon the poop levelled into the main deck. 2 hundred miles from old england in the western ocearn. then he (captain William Goodwin) began to ill-use us. prentice frederick smith lashed up to larbert main rigging, flog 6 dosen lashes for saying you and I can't ist (hoist) this punchin of wine alone. gard over im. soards. daggers. captain struck several. women crying. - Able seaman Charles Picknell's log, convict transport Kains , Bay of Biscay, 29 June, 1830.

• If that's how Captain Goodwin treated the crew, imagine what he did to the convicts! The ship finally made Port Jackson after a journey of 246 days, but was wrecked soon after in the Tamar River, Launceston.

George Arthur's mad orders to the white folks ... IN FULL!

Lieut Governor George Arthur, having issued various contradictory proclamations, eventually decided to involve the whole white population in an effort to rid the island of the aboriginal menace. It was akin to a Giant Genocidal Lamington Drive. Even convicts could take part (Ticket-of-Leavers could even get free shoes and food!). Arthur's grand scheme was to hunt all the aborigines into Tasman Peninsula. The operation cost 30,000 pounds (millions in today's dollars). It involved all the white man's supposedly superior military prowess. It snared two aborigines !

1. The Community being called upon to act en masse on the 7th Oct. next, for the purpose of capturing those hostile Tribes of the Natives which are daily committing renewed atrocities upon the Settlers; the following outline of the arrangements which the Lieutenant Governor has determined upon, is published, in order that every person may know the principle on which he is required to act, and the part which he is to take individually in this important transaction.

2. Active operations will at first be chiefly directed against the Tribes which occupy the country South of a line drawn from Waterloo Point East, to Lake Echo, West, including the Hobart, Richmond, New Norfolk, Clyde, and Oatlands Police Districts, at least, within this country, the Military will be mainly employed, the capture of the Oyster Bay and Big River Tribes, as the most sanguinary, being of the greatest consequence.

3. In furtherance of this measure, it is necessary that the Natives should be driven from the extremities within the settled Districts of the county of Buckingham, and that they should subsequently be prevented from escaping out of them, and the following movements are, therefore, directed first to surround the hostile Natives Tribes, secondly, to capture them in the county of Buckingham, progressively driving them upon Tasman's Peninsula, and, thirdly, to prevent their escape into the remote unsettled Districts to the Westward and Eastward.

4. Major Douglas will, on the seventh of October, cause the following chain of posts to be occupied; viz: From the Coast near St. Patrick's Head, to the source of the St. Paul's River, and by that River and the South Esk, to Epping Forest, and Campbell Town. This line being taken up, the Parties composing it, will advance in a Southerly direction towards the eastern Marshes, and will thoroughly examine the country between their first Stations and the head of the Macquarie, and on the afternoon of the 12th Oct. they will halt with their left at a Mountain on the Oyster Bay Tier, on which a large fire is to be kept burning, and their right extending towards Malony's Sugar Loaf. To effect this movement, Major Douglas will reinforce the post at Avoca, and this force, under the orders of Capt. Wellman will be strengthened by such Parties as can be dispatched by the Police Magistrate of Campbell Town, and by the Roving Parties under Mr. Batman, and will receive the most effectual cooperation from Major Gray, who will, no doubt, be warmly, seconded by Messrs. Legge, Talbot, Grant, Smith, Gray, Hepburn, Kearney,

Bates, and all other Settlers in that neighbourhood.

5. Major Douglas will also, on the seventh of Oct. form a chain of posts from Campbell Town along the South-west bank of the Macquarie to its junction with the Lake River. These Parties will then advance in a Southerly direction, carefully examining the Table Mountain range on both its sides, and the banks of the Lake River, and they will halt on the afternoon of the 12th, with their left at Malony's Sugar Loaf, and their right at Lackey's Mill, which position will already be occupied by Troops from Oatlands. In this movement, Major Douglas will receive the co-operation of the Police Magistrate of Campbell Town, who will bring forward upon that portion of the line extending from the high road near Kimberly's on the Salt-pan Plains to Malony's Sugar Loaf, the force contributed by Messrs. Willis, W. Harrison, Peatson, Jellicoe, Davidson, McLeod, Leake, Clarke, Murray, Horne, Scardon, Kermode, Parramore, Horton, Scott, Dickenson, R. Davidson, Cassidy, Eagle, Gardner, Robertson, Hill, Forster, with any other Settlers from that part of his District, while that portion of the line extending from Lackey's Mill to Kimberly's will be strengthened by Messrs. G. C. Clarke, G. C. Simpson, Sutherland, Ruffey, Gatenby, G. Simpson, C. Thomson, H. Murray, Buist, Oliver, Malcolm, Taylor, Mackersey, Rayler, Stewart, Alston, Bibra, Corney, Fletcher, Young, O'Connor, Yorke, and any other Settlers, resident in that part of the District, who will on their march have examined the East side of Table Mountain.

6. In order to obviate confusion in the movements of this body, the Police Magistrate will, without delay, ascertain the strength which will be brought into the field, and having divided it into Parties of Ten, he will nominate a Leader to each, and will attach to them experienced Guides for directing their marches, and he will report these arrangements to Major Douglas, when completed. The remainder of the forces under Major Douglas, will, on the afternoon of the 12th, take up their position on the same line, extending from the Oyster Bay range to the Clyde, South of Lake Crescent, over Table Mountain. Its right, under the command of Capt. Mahon, 63d Regiment, resting on the Table Mountain, passing to the rear of Michael Howe's Marsh. Its left, under Capt. Wellman, 57th Regiment, at a Mountain in the Oyster Bay tier, where a large fire will be seen. Its right centre, under Captain Macpherson 17th Regiment, extending from Malony's Sugar Loaf to Capt Mahon's left and its left centre under Capt. Baylie, 63rd Regiment, extending from Malony's Sugar Loaf to Capt Wellman's right.

7. Major Douglas's extreme right will be supported by the Roving Parties, and by the Police of the Oatlands District, which, together with the Volunteer Parties formed from the District of Oatlands, will be mustered by the Police Magistrate in Divisions of Ten Men, and he will nominate a Leader to each Division, and will attach experienced Guides for conducting the march and he will report his arrangement when completed, to Major Douglas, in order that this force may be placed in the right of the line, to which position it will file from Oatlands by the pass over Table Mountain.

8. Between the 7th and the 12 of Oct., Lieut Aubin will thoroughly examine the tier extending from the head of the Swan River, North, down to Spring Bay, the Southern extremity of his District, in which duty he will be aided, in addition to the Military parties stationed at Spring Bay and Little Swan Port, by Capts. Maclaine and Leard, Messrs. Meredith, Hawkins, Gatehouse, Buxton, Harte, Amos, Allen, King, Lyne, and all Settlers in that District, and by Capt. Glover and Lieut. Steele, with whatever force can be collected at the Carlton, and at Sorell by the Police Magistrate of that District.

In occupying this position, the utmost care must be taken that no portion of this or any other force shews itself above the tiers South of Spring Bay before the general line reaches that point, and the Constables at East Bay Neck, and the Settlers on the Peninsula must withdraw before the 7th Oct. in order that nothing may tend to deter the Native Tribes from passing the Isthmus.

On the 12th, Lieut Aubin will occupy the passes in the tier which the Natives are known most to frequent, and will communicate with the extreme left of Major Douglas's line taking up the best points of observation, and causing at the same time a most minute reconnaissance to be kept upon the Schoutens, in case the Natives should pass into that Peninsula, as they are in the habit of doing either for shell-fish or eggs, in which case he will promptly carry into effect the instructions with which he has already been furnished.

9. Capt. Wentworth will, on the 4th of Oct., push a strong Detachment under the orders of Lieut. Croly from Bothwell towards the Gt. Lake, for the purpose of thoroughly examining St. Patrick's Plains and the banks of the Shannon, extending its left on retiring to the Clyde, towards the Lagoon of Islands, and its right towards Lake Echo.

This Detachment will be assisted by the Roving Parties under Sherwin and Doran, and by the settlers resident on the Shannon.

10. Capt. Wentworth will also detach the Troops at Hamilton Township under Capt. Vicary, across the Clyde to occupy the Western bank of the Ouse. For this service every possible assistance will be afforded by the Parties formed from the Establishments of Messrs. Triffith, Sharland, Marzetti, Young, Dixon, Austin, Burn, Jamieson, Shone, Risely, and any other settlers in that District, together with any men of the Field Police who may be well acquainted with that part of the country.

11. A small Party of Troops under the command of Lieut. Murray will also be sent up the North bank of the Derwent, to scour the country on the West bank of the Ouse. This Detachment will be strengthened by any Parties of the Police or Volunteers that can be supplied by the Police Magistrate of New Norfolk, and from Hobart Town.

12. These three Detachments under the orders of Capt. Vicary, Lieut. Croly, and Lieut. Murray, after thoroughly scouring the country, especially the Blue Hill, and after endeavouring to drive towards the Clyde whatever Tribes of Natives may be in those quarters, will severally take up their positions on the 12th Oct., as follows; viz, Lieut. Croly's force will rest its left on the Clyde where Major Douglas's extreme right will be posted, and its right at Sherwin's. Capt. Vicary's left will rest at Sherwin's, and his right at Hamilton; Lieut. Murray's left at Hamilton, and his right on the high road at Allanvale, his whole line occupying that road.

13. The parties of Volunteers and Ticket of Leave men, from Hobart town and its neighbourhood, will march by New Norfolk, for the purpose of assisting Captain Wentworth's force, in occupying the Clyde; and they will be rendering a great service by joining that force in time to invest the Blue Hill, which will be about the 10th of October.14. The Police Magistrate of New Norfolk will reserve, from amongst the Volunteers and Ticket of Leave men, a sufficient force to occupy the Pass, which runs from the high road, near Downie's, by Parson's Valley, to Mr. Murdoch's, on the Jordan, and on the 9th of October, he will move these bodies by the Dromedary Mountain, which he will cause to be carefully examined towards that Pass, which on the afternoon of the 10th he will occupy, taking care so to post his parties as to prevent the Natives from passing the Chain, on being pressed from the northward.

15. Captain Donaldson will, with as little delay as possible, make arrangements for advancing from Norfolk Plains towards the country on the West Bank of the Lake River, up to Regent's Plains and Lake Arthur, driving in a southerly direction any of the tribes in that quarter. He will also push some parties over the tier to the Great Lake, so as to make an appearance at the head of the Shannon and of the Ouse; and on the 12th of October, his position will extend from Sorell Lake to Lake Echo, by St. Patrick's Plains. In this important position he will remain, with the view of arresting the flight of any tribes towards the West which might possibly pass through the first line. And as the success of the general operations will so much depend upon the vigilant guard to be observed over this tract of country, the Lieutenant Governor places the utmost confidence in Captain Donaldson's exertions in effectually debarring the escape of the Tribes in this direction; for which purpose he will withdraw, if he thinks proper, the detachment at Westbury, and will concentrate his forces on the position described. In this service Capt. Donaldson will be supported by all the force that can be brought

forward by the Police Magistrates of Launceston and Norfolk Plains, in addition to that which can be contributed by the settlers in those districts.

16. It may be presumed, that by the movements already described, the Natives will have been enclosed within the settled districts of the county of Buckingham.

17. On the morning of the 14th of October, Major Douglas will advance the whole of the Northern Division in a South easterly direction, extending from the Clyde to the Oyster Bay Range; Captain Mahon being on his right, Captains Macpherson and Bailie in his centre, and Captain Wellman on his left, while Lieut. Aubin will occupy the crests of the tiers. The left wing of Major Douglas's division will move along the tier nearly due South to Little Swan Port River, the left centre upon Mr. Hobbs's stock run, the right centre upon the Blue Hill Bluff, and the right wing to the Great Jordan Lagoon. Having thoroughly examined all the tiers and the ravines on its line of march, the division will reach these stations on the 16th and will halt on Sunday, the 17th of October.

18. A large fire will be kept burning on the Blue Hill Bluff, from the morning of the 14th until the morning of the 18th, as a point of direction for the centre, by which the whole line will be regulated.

19. On Monday, the 18th, Major Douglas's division will again advance, in a South-easterly direction, its left moving upon Prosser's River, keeping close to the tier, its centre upon Prosser's Plains to Olding's Hut, its right upon Musquito Plain and the north side of the Brown Mountain, which stations they will reach respectively on the evening of the 20th, and where they will halt for further orders, taking the utmost care to extend the line from Prosser's Bay, so as to connect the Parties with the Brown Mountain, enclosing the Brushy Plains, with the hills called the Three Thumbs, in so cautious a manner, that the Natives may not be able to pass them.

20. From the morning of the 18th to the 22nd a large fire will be kept burning on the summit of the Brown Mountain, to serve as a point of direction for Major Douglas's right and Captain Wentworth's left.

21. On the morning of the 14th October, the Western Division, under the orders of Captain Wentworth, formed on the Bank of the Clyde, will enter the Abyssinia Tier and after thoroughly examining every part of that range, will move due east to the Banks of the Jordan, with its left at Bisdee's, Broadribb's, and Jones's Farms, its centre at the Green Ponds, and its right at Murdoch's Farm, at the Broad Marsh, which stations they will severally gain on Saturday evening, the 16th of October, and where they will halt on Sunday the 17th.

22. Whenever Captain Wentworth's force moves from the Clyde to the Eastward, those Settlers, who do not join him, will invest the road of the Upper and Lower Clyde, and will keep guard on it during the remainder of the operations, extending their left through "Mile's Opening," to Mrs. Jones's Farm.

23. On Monday the 18th, the Western Division will advance, its left, which will connect with the right of the Northern Division, by Spring Hill, the Lovely Banks, and the Hollow-tree Bottom, to Mr. Reis's Farm, on the West of the Brown Mountain, -- its centre over Constitution-hill and the Baghdad Tier, and by the Coal River Sugar Loaf to Mr. Smith's Farm, at the Junction of the Kangaroo and Coal Rivers, its right over the Mangalore tier, through Baghdad and the Tea-tree Brush, to Styne's and Troy's Farm of the Coal River, which stations they will respectively reach on the afternoon of the 20th, and where they will halt for further orders.

24. Whenever the right wing of Capt. Wentworth's Division shall have reached Mr. Murdoch's on the Jordan, Mr. Dumaresq's Force will abandon the Pass of Parson's Valley, and will extend itself on Capt. Wentworth's extreme right, advancing with that force will abandon the Pass of Parson's Valley, and will extend itself on Capt. Wentworth's extreme right, advancing with that force, until it occupies the Coal River, from Capt. Wentworth's right to the Mouth of the River. A Post of Observation will be stationed on the Mountain called "Gunners Quoin," near the Tea-tree Brush.

25. The Assistant Commissary General will provide rations at the under-mentioned stations, viz. Waterloo Point ,Malony's, Sugar Loaf, Lackey's Mill, Under the Bluff of Table Mountain, Bothwell, Hamilton, New Norfolk, Murdoch's (Jordan), Brighton, Cross Marsh, Hobbs,Little Swan Port River, Mr. Torlesse's, Nicholas's on the Ouse, Green Ponds, Bisdee's Farm,Richmond, Mr. Reis's, Kangaroo River, Olding's, Prosser's Plains, Capt. McLaine's, Spring Bay, Lt. Hawkins's, Little Swan Port, Oatlands Tier West of Waterloo Point, Jones's Hut, St. Patrick's Plains, Capt. Wood's Hut, Regent Plains, Mr. Geo. Kemp's Hut, Lake Sorell, Michael Howe's Marsh.

The arrangement, at the different spots, for the conveyance of rations and stores to the Parties employed, will be undertaken by Mr. Scott, Mr. Wedge, and Mr. Shand; and as the leader of each party will be a respectable individual he will keep a Ration-Book in which will insert his own name, and the names of all his party, which on his presenting at any of the Depots, stating the quantity required, the respective storekeepers will issue the same, taking care that no greater quantity than 7 days supply shall be issued at one time to any party.

25. (understandable clerical error through tiredness and boredom!) The inhabitants of the country, generally, are requested not to make any movements against the Natives, within the circuit occupied by the troops, until the general line reaches them, and the residents of the Jordan and Baghdad line of road will render the most effectual assistance by joining Capt. Wentworth's force, whilst on the Clyde.

26. The assigned servants of settlers will be expected to muster, provided each with a good pair of spare shoes, and a blanket, and 7 day's provisions, consisting of flour, biscuit, salt, meat, tea, and sugar; also, prisoners holding Tickets of Leave; but these latter, where they cannot afford it, will be furnished with a supply of provisions from the Government Magazines.

27. It will not be necessary, that more than two men of every five should carry fire arms, as the remaining three can very advantageously assist their comrades in carrying provisions, etc. and the Lieutenant Governor takes this opportunity of again enjoining the whole community to bear in mind, that the object in view is not to injure or destroy the unhappy Savages, against whom these movements will be directed, but to capture and raise them in the scale of civilisation by placing them under the immediate control of a competent establishment, from whence they will not have it in their power to escape and molest the White Inhabitants of the Colony, and where they themselves will no longer be subject to the miseries of perpetual warfare, or to the privations which the extension of the Settlements would progressively entail upon them, were they to remain in their present unhappy state.

28. The Police Magistrates and the Masters of Assigned Servants will be careful to entrust with arms only such prisoners as they can place confidence in; and, to ensure regularity; each prisoner employed will be furnished by the Police Magistrate with a Pass, describing the Division to which he is attached, and the name of its leader, and containing the personal description of the prisoner himself.

By His Excellency's Command, J. Burnett (Secretary) , Hobart Town Gazette, 25 September, 1830.

Stirling intervenes to save WA

The gigantic schemes of Mr T. Peel and Colonel (Peter) Latour (an absentee emigration entrepreneur) having been undertaken without a proper Provision of Funds and Stores in the Country for their maintenance, their Establishments have been broken up and their Servants either discharged by their Masters or by Decision of Magistrates. Colonel Latour's servants were liberated about three months ago, and were speedily employed by other settlers. Mr Peel's establishment being much larger I have been obliged to interfere with it for the prevention of famine, and have arranged with him that upon his consenting to liberate all but a very limited number of his people from their indentures, assistance shall be lent for the remainder from the King's Stores. - Lieut Governor James Stirling, Perth, to Colonial Office, London, 18 October, 1830.

• So ended the grandiose aspirations of Thomas Peel (Latour was a much smaller player). By his intervention, Stirling may have averted, on a much smaller scale, a repetition of the Company of Scotland's Darien Disaster on the Isthmus of Panama in the late 17th century.

Arthur admits defeat in the Great Black Round-up

1. THE first series of operations for the Capture of the native Tribes having been now brought to a close by the march of the Military and Civil Parties to East Bay brought to a close by the march of the Military and Civil Parties to East Bay Neck, and as the length of time during which those composing the Volunteer Force have absented themselves from their homes, renders the Government unwilling to wish them to extend their period of service at this conjuncture, when to remain any longer in the Field would prove so detrimental to their private interest, they will now disperse and the assigned servants of Settlers who have not been able to be present themselves, will be marched back to their respective Districts under the charge of Constables appointed for that purpose, with the exception of a small body whom the Lieutenant Governor has judged it expedient to detain for the protection of the Settlements and the further pursuit of the Natives.

2. The Lieutenant Governor cannot allow the Forces to separate without observing that although the expedition has not been attended with the full success which was anticipated, but which could not be commanded, yet many benefits have resulted from it amongst which may be enumerated the cordial and unanimous feeling which has distinguished every class of the community in striving for the general good. The knowledge which has been acquired of the habits of the natives and which will so much tend to ensure success in future operations, the opening of communications throughout the country, which was before their secure retreat, but which can no longer afford them the same security or confidence, and above all the proof which has been given of the great personal sacrifice which the whole population were not only willing but most anxious to make for the purpose of capturing the savages, in order by their being placed in some situation where they could no longer inflict or receive injury, that the race might be preserved from utter extermination; an event fearfully to be apprehended so long as they continue to commit such wanton outrages upon the White inhabitants, and which every man of humanity and proper feeling, would endeavour to avert.

3. In touching upon the merits of the Individuals composing the Force, the Lieutenant Governor feels it difficult to attach to them the meed of praise which they have deserved, and when ALL have shewn so much alacrity, zeal, patience and determination to overcome every difficulty, it were invidious to extol any in particular, although it is quite impossible to avoid noticing the extraordinary exertions which have been so cheerfully afforded by the Surveyor General and every Officer of his Department. The conduct collectively of the whole Community on this occasion will be a lasting source of pleasure in the mind of the Lieutenant Governor but His Excellency will not fail to bear in remembrance the separate merits of each in the proportion which his exertions have proved him to possess.

In making this allusion to the conduct of the Civil Forces, the Lieutenant Governor has the satisfaction at the same time to observe, that the orderly and soldier-like behaviour of the military, and the zeal and ability which their officers have displayed in organising and commanding the civil Levies, merit the highest encomiums. The difficulties which the Forces have had to surmount in such an impervious country, as that which has latterly been the scene of their efforts, can only be understood by those who have seen it, and nothing but the excellent spirit of the parties could have enabled them to overcome so many obstacles.

4. The project of surrounding and driving the two worst Tribes of Natives to a particular quarter had succeeded to the fullest extent, and but for their untimely dispersion by a Party who too hastily attacked them before a sufficient Force could arrive to capture them, the whole measure would probably have been crowned with success.

5. The Lieutenant Governor has, however, the satisfaction of announcing on this occasion, that a body of Natives have been captured without bloodshed on the Northern Coast, where there exists every prospect of the remainder of that Tribe being secured. The recent treacherous conduct of a party of Natives who had been received and treated with every species of kindness, but who endeavoured to repay their benefactors by murder and rapine, sufficiently demonstrates that it would be in vain to expect any reformation in these Savages while allowed to continue in their native habits. It will, therefore, become an immediate subject of anxious consideration with the Government, whether it is not proper to place those who are now secured, and who amount to about thirty, together with any others who may be captured, upon an Island from whence they cannot escape, but where they will be gradually induced to adopt the habits and feelings of civilised life.

6. The circumstances of the late Military movements not having been attended with the expected success, will not it is hoped cast any despondency upon the Public mind, for the activity and cordiality which have been recently shewn by the community, afford sufficient earnest that the evil which has afflicted the Colony, must in the course of this summer be removed. The most active measures will be continued for vigorously pursuing the object in view, but as the Lieutenant Governor feels a strong persuasion that there are white men amongst the Natives, His Excellency does not consider it prudent to detail any future operations in public Notices, By His Excellency's Command, J. Burnett (Secretary), Hobart Town Gazette , 27 November, 1830.

Tyrant's death in the Glasshouse Mountains

'I am a native of Erin's Island,

And lately banished from that lovely shore;

I left behind my aged parents

And the girl I did adore ... ' - Death of Capt. Patrick Logan, near Glasshouse Mountains, Queensland, c. November, 1830.

• Logan, the convicts said, ruled Moreton Bay with 'excessive tyranny'. Moreton Bay, on the present site of Brisbane, was established as a place of secondary punishment in 1827. Under Logan, commandant from 1826, it became synonymous with cruelty. The convict lament survived him.

It is with feelings of unfeigned sorrow that the duty devolves upon me of reporting to you, for the information of His Excellency, the Governor, the melancholy death of Captain Logan, late Commandant of this settlement ... Mrs Logan, having a decided objection to the remains being interred here, has requested that they may be forwarded to Sydney by the Isabella, while she and her family proceed by the Governor Phillip ... - Dispatch from Capt J. O. Clunie, Moreton Bay (Q) to Colonial Secretary's office, Sydney, 6 November, 1830.

• Logan was speared by aborigines. By way of a footnote, his widow, Letitia and sons, had to petition the British government for 15 years until she was granted a pension.

Boongarie, last chief of the Sydney tribes, dies

We have to announce the death of his Aboriginal Majesty, King Boongarie, Supreme Chief of the Sydney tribe. He expired on Wednesday last, at Garden Island, after a lingering sickness of several months. A coffin has been dispatched thither from the Lumber Yard, and he will be interred at Rose Bay, beside the remains of his late Queen Gooseberry this day. - Sydney Gazette , 27 November, 1830.

• Boongarie was a man of great curiosity who accepted the inevitability of European conquest and joined mariners, including Matthew Flinders and Phillip Parker King, on their explorations.

Convicts' comfort = good business practice

It is true that convicts are sent out here as a punishment. But it is equally true that it is not in the interests of the master to make his service a punishment, but rather make the convict as comfortable as is consistent with economy . - Edward Curr, Superintendent, Van Diemens Land Company, Launceston, 12 January, 1831.

• The government wanted transportation to be seen as an awful fate; the private property owners to whom they were assigned simply wanted work done for the cheapest price.

WA settlers found wanting

Few who abandoned the settlement ... were willing to admit their failure was the result of their own want of exertion or their unfittedness for the enterprise in which they had embarked. - Lieut Governor James Stirling, Perth, to Sir George Murray, Secretary for Colonies, London, 13 March, 1831.

• Many settlers blamed the infertility of the land and their desperate shortage of money. The British Government halved the size of land grants, attempted to improve the administration of the colony, and promoted James Stirling to the rank of full governor. The first sitting of the Legislative Council was held in February, 1832.

Two crops a year in WA, he says (hopefully)!

With care and experience, I sure 'twill be found

Two crops in the year we may get from the ground;

There's good wood and good water, good flesh and good fish,

Good soil and good climes, and what more could you wish.

Then let everyone earnestly strive, Sirs

Do his best, be alert and alive, Sirs,

So Western Australia for me. - Verse by George Fletcher Moore, gentleman settler, Guildford, Swan River, 1831.

• Moore presented his new song at a ball given by James Stirling at Government House for eighty surviving families of the first two years of settlement, 1831.

What beauties are Currency Lads and Lassies!

They are such beauties, you cannot imagine such a beautiful race as the rising generation in this Colony. As they grow up, they think nothing of England and can't bear the idea of going there. It is extraordinary the passionate love they have for the country of their birth, but I believe it is remarked that the natives of a Mountain Land feel stronger for their birth place than the native of the Plains. There is a degree of liberty here which you can hardly imagine at your side of the Equator. The whole country round, Mountains and Valleys, Rocks, Glens, Rivers and Brooks seem to be their own domain: they shoot, ride, fish, bathe, go bivouacking in the woods - hunt Opossum and Kangaroo, catch and train parrots, Wombats, Kangaroo Rats etc etc. They are in short as free as the Birds of the Air and the Aboriginal Natives of the Forests. They are also connoisseurs in horses, Cattle, Sheep, Pigs, Wool, Grain and leather - And they all understand before they can speak that two and two make four. - Letter from Colonial Auditor George Boyes, Hobart, to his wife, Mary, London, 23 October, 1831.

• Boyes was probably laying it on a bit thick about the quality of his young neighbours because Mary absolutely refused to accompany him when he was posted to the colonies in 1824. She relented in 1832.

Darwin: In search of the origins of life on earth

On 27 December, 1831, Charles Darwin, aged 22, left Plymouth in HMS Beagle as unpaid naturalist, under Captain Robert FitzRoy. Their journey was to expected to last two years. In the end, it took five. Before his departure, he wrote:

We have in truth the world before us. Think of the Andes; the luxuriant forests of the Guayquil; the island of the South Sea and New South Wales. How many magnificent and characteristic views, how many and curious tribes of men shall we see - what fine opportunities for geology and for studying the infinite host of living beings: Is this not a prospect to keep up the most flagging spirit?

In the journey, Darwin had experiences and made observations which, in part, led to the publication on 24 November 1859 of On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, or The Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life.

1832: Death of Wolfgang Goethe, 22 March, aged 81, still dwelling on the truths of Faust.

Department of Official Stupidity

While in that state (exhaustion) he drank, unknown to me, about two quarts of cold water which caused his death. - Surgeon James Lawrence, Coroner's Inquest, Sydney, about events of 25 March, 1832.

• Surgeon Lawrence referred to an unusual punishment given to a convict, John Clifton, aboard aboard the vessel, John . Clifton was ordered to pace the deck in 80F deg. heat with a bed on his back for expressing the view that he wished the ship was on fire from stem to stern. Subsequently, he dropped dead.

1832: Reform Bills (made possible by the fortuitous death of the socially undesirable George IV two years earlier) enfranchise 220,000 more voters in England, Scotland and Wales.

Georgiana's misgivings in the deep, dark woods

This is certainly a very beautiful place - but were it not for domestic charms the eye of the emigrant would soon weary of the unbounded limits of thickly dark green forests where nothing can be descried to feast the imagination and when you can only say there must be some tribes of Natives in those woods and they are the most degraded of humanity. - Letter from Georgiana Molloy, Augusta (WA) to her sister, Elizabeth, Carlisle, England, 7 November, 1832.

• Georgiana and her husband, John, a former army officer, migrated to Western Australia in 1830 and settled at Augusta, 350km south of Fremantle. Despite Georgiana misgivings, they remained and prospered.

An early republican's rising seamer against the Brits

Look, Australians, to the high-salaried foreigners around you! Beyond those men lolling in their coaches - rioting in the sweat of your brow - while you, yes, you, the Sons of the Soil, are doomed to eternal toil ... - Currency Lad , Sydney, 24 November, 1832.

• Horatio Wills, then aged twenty-one, editor of the short-lived Currency Lad , was speaking on behalf of the Australian-born youth who were coming to believe in their right to Australia by inheritance.

Hobart's industrious hangman seeks productivity allowance

We rejoice to state, that by the Law of England, the punishment in all cases is now repealed, where property alone is affected. Murder, and other injury to the person remains, as it very properly ought, a capital offence. After this, we trust we may never again witness in this Colony the cruel mockery of justice of hanging a man for endeavouring to recover his liberty when sentenced to a place of punishment. - Colonial Times , Hobart, 8 January, 1833.

• The good citizens of Van Diemens Land were offended by the numbers of hangings on the Apple Isle. One day, a court sentenced eighteen people to die for trifling larceny offences; and one hangman asked for a pay rise because he had disposed of 107 people in five years.

Explorer's nourishes London's colonial dream

I still think something very important to be discovered lurks in the northwest and that at a few hundred miles beyond the point to which I penetrated, either a large river or a Mediterranean Sea might be fallen in with. - Surveyor General Thomas Mitchell, Sydney, to Undersecretary for Colonies Hay, London, 24 March, 1833.

• Mitchell still nourished the notion of an inland sea beyond the explored areas. When he died in 1855, the possibilities of finding it were far from exhausted.

1833:

James Busby becomes British Resident, 5 May, at the Bay of Islands, New Zealand.

Lord Shaftesbury's Factory Act limits child labour to eight hours a day.

London crims want to be transported!

The only punishment they dread is transportation. - 'A Barrister', The Old Bailey Experience, London, 1833.

• Execution of London criminals, he argued, did not deter them from crime. But some people believed criminals 'courted transportation' because it was 'received as a reward'.

Governor figures out how colonial society works

I would first briefly bring to your recollection the fact that there are two Parties, into which the Community of New South Wales is more or less divided; these Parties are usually designated Emigrants and Emancipists ... - Governor Sir Richard Bourke, Sydney, to Lord Stanley, Secretary for Colonies, London, 25 December, 1833.

• Bourke canvassed the vexed question of the 'Emigrants' determination to retain control of the Legislative Council, knowing they would lose to the 'Emancipists' if free elections were held. He recognised the 'evil' of one party legislating for the whole community.

L-plate explorer meets 'wooden projectiles'

Probably our tribe was too numerous for their enemies, and the only hostility committed was a few Bauerings, a sort of crooked wooden projectile, were thrown into the camp as the enemy passed by. - John Lhotsky, Polish explorer, Goulburn area (NSW), 25 January, 1834.

Fruitless request

A more hardened wretch, although only twenty-one years of age was never put to the bar. On leaving the dock, he desired the constable to fetch him some peaches. - Sydney Herald , Supreme Court, NSW, 20 February, 1834.

• William Elliott, convict found guilty of attempting to murder a policeman, went to the gallows with his sense of humour intact.

He's been everywhere, man

'I like the native names, as

And Illawarra, and Woolloomooloo'

Nandowra, Woogarora, Bulkomatta

Tomah, Toongabbie, Mittagong, Murroo: - John Dunmore Lang, Historical and Statistical Account of NSW , London, 1834.

• Lang, Australia's leading Presbyterian clergyman and a master of vituperation, had a soft spot for things Australian, despite his strict upbringing in Greenock, Scotland. His Historical and Statistical Account of NSW was his second major work on the colony. It was written on one of his frequent visits to Britain to recruit clergy and Protestant immigrants against a perceived Irish Catholic threat.

Lost ... and scared in the NSW Snowy Mountains

As I was now beyond the limits of the colony, I found myself quite in a new situation. I had lived before under absolute monarchies and under commonwealths; here I found myself surrounded by complete anarchy and lawlessness. - John Lhotsky, explorer, Monaro (NSW), February, 1834.

• Lhotsky, a central European, was making for the Snowy Mountains, intending to ascend Australia's highest peak. He assumed he had done this on 5 March and named it Mt William. His map references indicate that he climbed a mountain southeast of Kosciuszko.

... even among the Papuas ... when a (white ) man fraternises with the people, a simultaneous cry of 'no badger you' (you are not a good man) resounded from almost every mouth and reminded me of the Jewish outcry of old: 'Crucifige illume'. - John Lhotsky, explorer, Monaro, February, 1834.

• The 'Papas', Lhotsky would have us believe, was a generic name for the tribes of the southern Monaro; his amazing discovery about the Jewish origins of 'no badger you' has escaped students of aboriginal antiquity .

Pommy backpacker's learned opinion, 1834

It is a melancholy fact, but not the less true, that far the greater proportion (of female convicts) are utterly irreclaimable, being the most worthless and abandoned of human beings. - W.H. Briton, Excursions in NSW , 1834.

• About 25,000 women were transported to NSW and Van Diemens Land between 1788 and 1852. Most came in the 1830s, the period Briton was describing. He probably talked to the wrong pundits; most convict women lived quietly in Australia.

The natural consequence of this system (the appointment of emancipists as magistrates, and to other public offices) was reaction - a determination, on the part of the Emigrant colonists, to maintain the more strictly those distinctions which it was the object of the Governor to break down. - John Macarthur, New South Wales , 1830s.

• Macarthur maintained his strong views on limiting the rights of emancipists until his illness and death.

Tolpuddle Martyrs' seven years for forming union

I feel that I have no discretion in the matter, but that I am bound to impose upon you that the sentence which that Act of Parliament has imposed, and therefore I adjudge that you, and each of you, be transported to such places beyond the seas that His Majesty's Council in their discretion shall see fit for the term of seven years. - Judge Sir John Williams, Dorchester Assizes (England), 19 March, 1834.

• The six 'Tolpuddle Martyrs', God-fearing Dorset farm labourers, were sentenced to be sent to Australia in chains for swearing an illegal oath ... forming a trade union. It was one of the most brutal and cynical exercises in the history of British 'justice'. The authorities convicted them under a 1799 statute meant to deal with naval mutineers.

Will Britons see their honest labourers torn from home and banished to a land of felony, the mark of infamy burnt upon their brows; and honest husband men imprisoned among thieves and pickpockets to cure them of their patriotism. - The Pioneer , London, 29 March, 1834.

• The outcry over the sentencing of the Tolpuddle Martyrs was extraordinary. An estimated 150,000 people marched in London and 800,000 signed a petition brought before the House of Commons. Unfortunately, they had already left for Australia.

John Macarthur's dies, unwanted by family

The fountain of my eyes which I believed to be dry, opened anew. - Elizabeth Macarthur, Sydney, on hearing of her husband's death, 11 April, 1834.

• Macarthur lived apart from his family at Camden Park in the last years of his life, imprisoned by mental illness.

Two bottles wine, a waistcoat and 'one pair trowsers'

In May, 1834, an idle young man of the 'gentleman' class appeared before Supreme Court of Van Diemens Land, charged with theft. This was the same court that had sentenced 18 men of the convict class to hang in one day. But not in this case!

James Earle was placed at the bar, charged with stealing, on the 18th April last, two bottles of wine, value 2s., one waistcoat, value 5s., and one pair trowsers, value two pounds , the property of Mr Charles Carmichael Smith.

Mr Charles Carmichael Smith examined. Resides at Roxborough House; knows the prisoner, who lodged in the same house with witness; recollects the 18th April last; returned home about 11 o'clock on that evening, and missed two bottles of wine. The prisoner had witness's clothes on; witness taxed him with having stolen them, together with the wine; the clothes produced are witness's property; the waistcoat is worth 5s., and the trowsers two pounds. The prisoner was in liquor (obviously drunk). The constable who apprehended the prisoner was here called, who proved his apprehension and intoxication.

The prisoner, in his defence, said, he had borrowed wine of the prosecutor before, and was on terms of intimacy (just good mates) with him. Was about to tell him of the liberty he had taken in borrowing his clothes, when, instead of hearing him, prosecutor sent for constables. It was not his intention to leave the house until the prosecutor's return; he hoped, therefore, the Jury would acquit him of any felonious intention.

Charles Carmichael Smith recalled by His Honor. Has resided at Roxborough house about a month; lent the prisoner a bottle of wine a short time before he missed the one, for stealing which the prisoner is now before the Court; found the bottles on the prisoner's dressing-table; they were nearly empty. Does not recollect the prisoner tell him he had taken the liberty of borrowing his clothes; he might have done so.

His Honor (Algernon Montagu, known in some circles as 'the mad judge') then addressed the Jury. It is not every man who takes away an article that is guilty of felony. The very essence of the offence is the intention of depriving the owners of the property. The circumstance of the prisoner having borrowed wine of the prosecutor before, is greatly in the prisoner's favor; and again if he intended to steal these articles, would he have gone and sat up stairs and remained until the owner's return. The manner in which the prosecutor gave his evidence was truly disgusting, towards a person apparently in his own station of life. A slight word passing between the parties may have given a very different colouring to the real nature of the transaction, to that which should really appear. You have heard Gentlemen, also, that the prosecutor says, the prisoner had been drinking, but was not drunk, while the constable swears that he was quite drunk. There seems to have been a disposition, on the part of the prosecutor, to do the prisoner all the injury in his power.

Verdict: Not Guilty.

His Honor then addressed the prisoner in the most feeling manner, stating, that he was sorry to see a young man of his apparent respectability placed in such a situation, and he trusted the escape which he now had would operate as a warning to him throughout his future life. His Honor said, he was satisfied that he did not take the articles with the intention of depriving the owner of them, and as respected his character, he did not think the slightest stain was cast upon it by this prosecution. - Colonial Times , Hobart, 13 May 1834

The colourful murder (and aftermath) of Robert Wardell

On 7 September, 1834, a prominent lawyer, Robert Wardell, was shot dead by John Jenkins, the leader of a band of bushranging convicts, on his estate at Petersham (now a suburb of Sydney). The ensuing murder trial in the Supreme Court was one of Sydney's more bizarre:

Friday. - Before His Honor the Chief Justice (Francis Forbes), and a Jury of Civil Inhabitants.

John Jenkins and Thomas Tattersdale stood indicted, for that they, not having the fear of God before their eyes, being moved and instigated by the devil, did, on the 7th September last, at Petersham, in the Colony of New South Wales, with a gun or pistol, shoot one Robert Wardell, inflicting on his left breast a mortal wound, of which he then there died. The prisoners pleaded Not Guilty. - Supreme Court, Sydney, 7 November, 1834.

• It was common practice for kindly judges to schedule trials for Friday, allowing defendants the full weekend to compose themselves before they were hanged on the Monday.

Emanuel Brace, an 18-year-old runaway convict and the third member of Jenkins' gang who had turned 'approver' (he chose to give evidence against his accomplices) said they had been roaming the bush for five weeks. Then came the victims of their crime spree:

John Taco, assigned convict servant ... the prisoner Jenkins ... levelled a musket at me and desired me to lie down; I asked him what I was to lie down for, when he repeated his command, I lay down on the ground; he asked me to give him the keys of my house, and desired me not to look up, for if I did he would blow my brains out; he said I wanted to take his life away, but if I did not mind myself, he would take mine; he gave my key to the other man and stood over me while the other man went away; I had a few good clothes which I used to go to Church in, and I begged of him not to take them away from me, as I was an old man. They said they were distressed and must take wherever they could find it ...

Thomas Betterson took the stand next ... I am a quarryman; I reside under a rock at the Ultimo Estate; I remember being robbed, it was on a Saturday evening ...

Thomas McCaffry (probably McCaffray, who Came Free to NSW with his wife, Anne, on the Somersetshire in 1814): I reside at Saltpan Creek, near the Punchbowl; I remember having some unpleasant visitors in September last, I remember seeing the prisoner Tattersdale, he was servant to Mr Turner. I remember one of the men coming to my door, and presenting his musket at me, demanded some victuals. I said, 'Very well, my lad, don't be in such passion, I'll give you some provisions,' when he replied, 'Don't stir a toot, you b- old -, or I'll blow your brains out', and he made a blow at me with his musket which knocked me on the bedside, Jenkins called one of the men, when the approver (Brace) came in and knocked me down with a waddie, and while falling the stout man gave me a blow which laid me insensible; while I lay on the ground the third man came in and took my musket, which had been knocked out of my hand; when he held his piece to my breast, I put up my hand and pushed it aside, and he struck me with the butt; my fowling piece was standing behind the door, and I seized it with the purpose of defending myself, when I was knocked down; Jenkins called the prisoner Tattersdale in to take my piece, and it was then that I recognised him; I was then lying on the ground, but had recovered myself; I should have known him before if I had not been knocked senseless; prisoner then took my piece and ran away; my men had just gone out from their dinner, and when I gave the alarm they came down to my assistance; the prisoners crossed the paddock in front of my house, but they could not be overtaken ...

The trio was captured on 8 September, Jenkins having shot Wardell while he was riding alone, inspecting his flocks. Wardell was not only one of the colony's most esteemed (and vexatious) lawyers, he was also the co-founder, with his friend, William Charles Wentworth, of the anti-establishment independent newspaper, the Australian . At the end of the trial on that Friday, 7 November, Justice Forbes, was engaged in the task of sentencing Jenkins and Tattersdale to death, when (the Sydney Morning Herald reported) ... His Honor had scarcely finished the last sentence, when the culprit Jenkins, with a ferocity unparalled, rushed forward towards his unhappy companion who stood at some distance from him in the dock, and struck him two violent blows and in all probability would have added another victim to his murderous appetite, but for the police, who rushed into the dock and with much difficulty secured him. From the sudden and unlooked for movement of the prisoner, those whose eyes were not directed towards him at the time, and did not observe the blows he inflicted upon his wretched companion, imagined that his object was to effect his escape; and a scene of indescribable confusion then presented itself from the anxiety felt, of the probability of his effecting his purpose with the assistance of the mob, many of the worst description of blackguard who infest Sydney at present. That portion of the police who were not engaged in securing Jenkins, under the direction of the Under Sheriff, cleared the court; such a scene of tumult and excitement, we will venture to say never presented itself in any Court of Justice for the last fifty years as we witnessed on the occasion and many were the anxious enquiries of persons in the crowd, as the prisoner was dragged through the dense mass ...

Jenkins and Tattersdale were brought to the gallows on Monday. The Australian reported: He addressed his fellow prisoners as follows: - Good morning, my lads, as I have not much time to spare, I shall only just tell you that I shot the Doctor (Wardell) for your benefit; He was a tyrant, and if any of you should ever take to the bush, I hope you will kill every b-y tyrant that you come across.

Jenkins then went to his death, having shaken the equally doomed Tattersdale's hand and asking him not to cry.

1834: Britain's Houses of Lords and Commons accidentally burn down, 16 October, replaced by present Gothic Revival-style buildings, 1840-67, Commons destroyed in air raid, WW11, repaired, 1950.

Hentys' illegal settlement at Portland

Arrived at Portland Bay in the schooner Thistle. Cast anchor after a long and boisterous passage of 34 days heavy weather. We lost on the passage two working bullocks, two cows, two calves and two heifers. - Journal of Edward Henty, squatter, Portland (Vic), 19 November, 1834.

• The Henty family, wealthy farmers from Sussex, England, illegally squatted in the far southwestern corner of the Port Phillip District. They were the first permanent settlers in the future colony of Victoria, having come by way of the Swan River Settlement and Van Diemens Land. They had found both disappointing, but having their own ship and servants, they could go where they pleased.

New Chum meets kookaburras and cockatoos

It is not uncommon to see these birds fly up with a long snake pending from their beak, the bird holding the reptile from the neck, just behind the head; but as the snake hangs down without motion, and appears dead, it is probable that the bird destroys them upon the ground before it conveys them into the tree. - G. Bennett, Wanderings in NSW , 1834.

• The author said the aborigines of the Yass district called the bird 'gogobera' which, it is safe to assume, was the origin of 'kookaburra'.

The way 'the mob' of these screaming or destructive birds attack a field of grain (or the cobs of corn in a maize field) is to fly against, bear down the stalks with their own weight, perch upon the fallen ears, and speedily destroy them. Like all the parrot tribe, they construct no nest but lay their eggs in a hollow spout of a tree, clearing it of the rotten wood within, except a small quantity at the bottom, on which the eggs are laid, and the young afterwards repose. - G. Bennett, Wanderings in NSW , 1834.

• Cockatoos could not believe their good fortune when the white man arrived and, in his innocence, planted crops.

Good idea, but it was, sadly, far too late

My panting bosom and extended arms are every moment open to receive ye. - Alexander Boyce, Irish convict, NSW, in a letter to his wife, Eliza, in Belfast, 1835.

• Boyce's entreaties to Eliza to join him went unheeded. She had died.

Unfolding beauty of the Tasmanian high country

The view from this point was beyond all description - the whole of Lake Saint Clair lay at our feet with its beautiful bays and its golden beaches. and in addition we could descry at least twenty other lakes of various descriptions in different parts of the panorama. - Explorer George Frankland, Tasmanian central highlands, 12 February, 1835.

• Frankland, Surveyor-General of Van Diemens Land, came upon this delightful vista while on a series of expeditions to unlock the secrets of the island's river system.

Doctor takes to a boat, abandons convicts

Good God! What is to be done? Where is the doctor? - Major Thomas Ryan, guard commander on the convict ship, George 111 , wrecked in D'Entrecasteaux Channel, Van Diemens Land, 12 April, 1835.

• Sixty prisoners, confined to bed with scurvy, were among the 130 convicts who drowned. The doctor had abandoned them to save his own life.

Mitchell blames curious Cunningham for his own death

I had the pain on reaching the camp to learn that Mr Cunningham was still absent and in all probability suffering from want of water. I had repeatedly cautioned this gentleman about the danger of losing sight of the party in such country; yet his carelessness in this respect was quite surprising. - Surveyor General Thomas Mitchell, Bogan River (NSW), Three Expeditions into the interior of Eastern Australia , 17 April, 1835.

• Richard Cunningham, superintendent of Sydney Botanic Gardens, became separated from Mitchell's exploring party and was killed by aborigines. His remains were found later in the year.

John Batman tricks the tribes out of 250,000ha

On the evening of our arrival at Port Phillip, we saw the native fires at a distance of about five miles. I then made my arrangements for the purpose of opening an intercourse with the natives by means of those under my charge. I equipped them in their native dresses, and early in the morning we landed. I desired the natives to proceed unarmed, and they preceded me a few hundred yards. My natives then proceeded quietly up to the huts, expecting that we should find the tribe asleep; but they had got to the huts, it appeared that the natives had fled a few hours previously, leaving behind them so of their buckets and other articles. - John Batman's report to Lieut Governor George Arthur, Hobart, 26 May, 1835.

• Batman, accompanied by seven Sydney aborigines, had crossed Bass Strait from Launceston in the Rebecca to begin his conquest of Port Phillip. They eventually found the local tribes and prevailed upon them to sign a spurious treaty for 250,000ha in return for sundry items. They believed they were merely giving him right of way through their lands.

Imperial Government wants to wriggle out of mess

I trust, however, it may be in your power to accomplish the immediate release of the Prisoners from Penal Labour without involving yourself and the Government in a responsibility which, it must be confessed, is not to be lightly undertaken. - Lord Glenelg, Secretary for Colonies, London, to Governor Sir Richard Bourke, Sydney, 11 July, 1835.

• The Home Government was trying to extricate itself delicately from the problem of the Tolpuddle Martyrs. Their leader, George Loveless, was in Van Diemens Land; the others were in NSW. One of the problems faced by the British Government was, that in declaring the membership of 'secret societies' illegal, it was also declaring the Loyal Orange Lodge illegal. And prominent members were also the Duke of Cumberland and others in the Royal Family. The Martyrs returned to England; one stayed in Tolpuddle and the others emigrated to Ontario, Canada.

Bourke vainly tries to curb Port Phillip squatters

... all persons who shall be found in possession of any such lands aforesaid, without the licence or the authority of His Majesty's Government, for such purpose, first had and obtained, with be considered as trespassers, and liable to be dealt with in like manner as other intruders upon the vacant land of the Crown within the said Colony. - Proclamation, Sydney, 26 August, 1835.

• Governor Sir Richard Bourke moved quickly to declare the new settlement on the Yarra River null and void, but by October had realised the futility of this action. The settlers were there to stay.

I cannot avoid perceiving the peculiarities which, in this Colony, render it impolitic and even impossible to restrain dispersion within limits that would be expedient elsewhere. - Governor Sir Richard Bourke, Sydney, to Lord Glenelg, Secretary for Colonies, London, 10 October, 1835.

• The illegal squatters were ranging far and wide with impunity: the Hentys in the southwest of Port Phillip District, Batman and Fawkner around Port Phillip and Patrick Leslie on the Darling Downs ( see 19 December, 1840 ) .

Charles Darwin puts Australia under the microscope, 1836

From 27 December, 1831, to 2 October, 1836, that young man of science, Charles Darwin, made his circumnavigation of the world in HMS Beagle , skippered by Captain Robert FitzRoy. Having toured South America, the Galapagos Islands, Tahiti and New Zealand, they approached Sydney on 12 January, 1836 ...

Early in the morning, a light air carried us towards the entrance to Port Jackson. Instead of beholding a verdant country, interposed with fine houses, a straight line of yellowish cliff brought to our minds the coast of Patagonia. A solitary lighthouse, built of white stone, alone told us we were near a great and populous city. Having entered the harbour, it appears fine and spacious, with cliff-formed shores of horizontally stratified limestone. The nearly level country is covered with thin, scrubby trees, bespeaking the curse of sterility. Proceeding further inland, the county improves: beautiful villas and nice cottages are here and there scattered along the beach. In the distance stone houses, two and three storeys high, and windmills standing on the edge of a bank, pointed out to us the neighbourhood of the capital of Australia.

At last we anchored within Sydney Cove. We found the little basin occupied by many large ships, and surrounded by warehouses. In the evening, I walked through the town, and returned full of admiration at the whole scene. It is a most magnificent testimony to the power of the British nation. Here, in a less promising country, scores of years have done many times more than a number of centuries have effected in South America. My first feeling was to congratulate myself that I was born an Englishman. Upon seeing more of the town afterwards, perhaps my admiration fell a little a little: but yet it is a fine town. The streets are regular, broad, clean, and are kept in excellent order; the houses are of a good size, and the shops well furnished. It may be faithfully compared to the large suburbs which stretch out from London and a few other great towns in England; but not even near London or Birmingham is there such an appearance of rapid growth. The number of large houses and buildings just finished was truly surprising: nevertheless, everyone complained of the high rents and the difficulty in procuring a house. Coming from South America, where in the towns every man of property is known, no one thing surprised me more than not being able to ascertain at once to whom this or that carriage belonged. - Charles Darwin , Journal of Researches into the Natural History and Geology of the Countries Visited During the Voyage of HMS Beagle Around the World Under Captain Fitzroy RN (London, 1839). This edition gave no clue to the dangerous ideas he was developing about the origin of species, which emerged during the next decade.

Four days after his arrival in Sydney, Darwin hired a man and two horses to guide him across the Blue Mountains to Bathurst. It was a profitable excursion for the young observer: he saw a man shoot a platypus, observed 'wild' aborigines and stayed a night at a womanless convict establishment ...

At sunset (17 January, 1836), a party of a score of the black aborigines passed by, each carrying, in their accustomed manner, a bundle of spears and other weapons. By giving the leading young man a shilling, they were easily detained, and threw their spears for my amusement. They were all partly-clothed and several could speak a little English: their countenances were good-humoured and pleasant, and they appeared far from being utterly degraded as they have usually been represented. In their own arts, they are admirable. A cap being fixed at thirty yards distant, they transfixed it with a spear, delivered by a throwing-stick with the rapidity of an arrow from the bow of a practised archer. In tracking of animals or men they show most wonderful sagacity; and I heard of several of their remarks which manifested considerable acuteness. They will not, however, cultivate the ground, or build houses and remain stationary, or even take the trouble of tending a flock of sheep when given to them. On the whole they appear to me to stand some few degrees higher in the scale of civilisation than the Fuegians ....

About 19 January, having crossed the Nepean River, they came to a homestead and convict barracks called Walerawang. Darwin had a letter of introduction to the superintendent, Mr Browne ...

This place offers an example of one of the large farming, or rather sheep-grazing, establishments of the colony. Cattle and horses are, however, in this case rather more numerous than usual, owing to some of the valleys being swampy and producing a coarser pasture. Two or three flat pieces of ground near the house were cleared and cultivated with corn, which the harvest-men were now reaping: but no more wheat is sown than sufficient for the annual support of the labourers employed on the establishment. The usual number of assigned convict servants here is about forty, but at the present time there were rather more. Although the farm was well stocked with every necessary, there was an apparent absence of comfort; and not a single woman resided here. The sunset of a fine day will generally cast an air of happy contentment on any scene; but here, at this retired farmhouse, the brightest tints on the surrounding woods could not make me forget that forty hardened, profligate men were ceasing from their daily labours, like the slaves from Africa, yet without their holy claim for compassion.

Darwin visited Bathurst, about whose charms he was ambivalent, then turned for Sydney on 22 January. He gave consideration to the state of colonial society ... Before arriving here, the three things which interested me most were - the state of society among the higher classes, the condition of the convicts, and the degree of attraction sufficient to induce persons to emigrate. Of course, after so very short a visit, one's opinion is scarcely worth anything; but it is as difficult not to form some opinion, as it is to form a correct judgment. On the whole, from what I heard, more than from what I saw, I was disappointed in the state of society. The whole community is rancorously divided into parties on almost every subject. Among those who, from their station in life, ought to be the best, many live in such open profligacy that respectable people cannot associate with them. There is much jealousy between the children of the rich emancipists and the free settlers, the former being pleased to consider honest men as interlopers. The whole population, poor and rich, are bent on acquiring wealth.; amongst the higher order, wool and sheep-grazing form the constant subject of conversation. There are many serious drawbacks to the comforts of a family, the chief of which perhaps, is being surrounded by convict servants. How thoroughly odious to every feeling, to be waited on by a man who the day before, perhaps, was flogged, from your representation. The female servants are much worse: hence the children learn the vilest expressions, and it is fortunate, if not equally vile ideas.

Vexatious Mitchell worries another governor!

Major Mitchell, as you are aware, did not finish the the course of the Darling on his last exploration. I am just sending him out again to finish and to return to the Colony through the country lying between the left bank of the Murray and Murrumbidgee and the Snowy Range ... the Surveyor General is a difficult man to manage and I fear I am rather in mauvais odour with him at present ... - Governor Sir Richard Bourke, Sydney, to Robert Hay, Undersecretary for Colonies, London, 1 February, 1836.

• Mitchell's brief was to explore the Darling from its junction with the Murray. He disobeyed instructions, of course, and headed southwest into the Port Phillip District. Had he not stumbled on the rich grazing lands of 'Australia Felix', he might have been in mauvais odour with his masters in Sydney.

Darwin and the Beagle in Van Diemens Land

On 5 February (1836), after a six days passage, of which the first part was fine, and the latter very cold and squally, we entered the mouth of Storm Bay: the weather justified this awful name. The bay should rather be called an estuary, for it receive at its head the waters of the Derwent. Near the mouth, there are some extensive basaltic platforms; but higher up the land becomes mountainous, and is covered by a light wood. The lower parts of the hills which skirt the bay are cleared; and the bright yellow fields of corn, and the dark green ones are of potatoes, appeared very luxuriant. Later in the evening, we anchored in the snug cove, on the shore of which stand the capital of Tasmania (Darwin used the preferred newer name, which did not become official for nearly twenty years). The first aspect were very inferior to that of Sydney; the latter might be called a city, this is only a town. It stands at the base of Mount Wellington, a mountain 3,100 feet high, but of little picturesque beauty; from this source, however, it receives a good supply of water. Round the cove, there are some fine warehouses, and on one side a small fort. Coming from the Spanish settlements, where such magnificent care has generally been paid to the fortification, the means of defence in these colonies seems very contemptible. Comparing the town with Sydney, I was chiefly struck with the comparative fewness of the large houses, either built or building. Hobart Town, from the census of 1835, contained 13,836 inhabitants, and the whole of Tasmania 36,505.

During his 10-day stay, Darwin observed the state of the aborigines (the word 'genocide' had not been invented then).

All the aborigines have been removed to an island in Bass's Straits, so that Van Diemens Land enjoys the great advantage of being free from native population. This most cruel step seems to have been quite unavoidable, as the only means of stopping a fearful succession of robberies, burnings, and murders, committed by the blacks; and which sooner or later would have ended in their utter destruction. I fear there is no doubt, that this train of evil and its consequences, originated in the infamous conduct of some of our countrymen. Thirty years is a short period, in which to have banished the last aboriginal from his native island - and that island nearly as large as Ireland. The correspondence on this subject, which took place between the government at home at that of Van Diemens Land, is very interesting. Although numbers of the natives were shot and taken prisoner in the skirmishing, which was going on at intervals for several years, nothing seems to have fully impressed them with the idea of our overwhelming power, until the whole island, in 1830, was put under martial law, and by proclamation the whole population commanded to assist in one great attempt to secure the entire race. The plan adopted was nearly similar to that of the great hunting matches in India: a line was formed reaching across the island, with the intention of driving the natives into a cul-de-sac on Tasman's Peninsula. The attempt failed; the natives, having tied up their dogs, stole during the night through the lines. This is far from surprising, when their practised senses, and usual manner of crawling after wild animals is considered. I have been assured they can conceal themselves on almost bare ground, in a manner which until witnessed, is barely credible; their dusky bodies being easily mistaken for the blackened stumps which are scattered all over the country. I was told of a trial between a party of Englishmen and a native, who was to stand in full view on the side of a bare hill; if the Englishmen closed their eyes for less than a minute, he would squat down, and then they were never able to distinguish him from the surrounding stumps. But to return to the hunting match; the natives understanding this kind of warfare, they were terribly alarmed, for they at once perceived the power and the numbers of the whites. Shortly afterwards, a party of thirteen belonging to two tribes came in; and, conscious of their unprotected condition, delivered themselves up in despair. Subsequently by the intrepid exertions of Mr Robinson, an active and benevolent man, who fearlessly visited by himself the most hostile of the natives, the whole were induced to act in a similar manner. Count Strzelecki states that 'at the epoch of their deportation in 1835, the number of natives amounted to 210... after the interval of seven years, they mustered only fifty-four individuals; and while each family of the interior of New South Wales, uncontaminated by contact with the whites, swarms with children, those of Flinders Island had during eight years, an accession of only fourteen in number!'

Charles Darwin gives Australia the raspberry

Farewell, Australia! You are a rising child, and doubtless some day will reign a great princess in the South: but you are too great and ambitious for affection, and not yet great enough for respect. I leave your shores without sorrow or regret. - Charles Darwin, aboard HMS Beagle , St George's Sound (WA), 14 March, 1836 .

• Darwin had just witnessed a corroboree which he described as 'a festival amongst the lowest barbarians'.

Black girl shot, crippled, in Westernport outrage

It appears that the natives were fired upon soon after sunrise, whilst lying in their huts, and one young girl about thirteen years of age was wounded in both her thighs ... and it is apprehended she will not recover the use of her legs. - Surveyor John Wedge, Beaupurt ( Melbourne ) to Colonial Secretary John Montagu, Hobart, 15 March, 1836.

• This 'outrage' was perpetrated by a gang of white bark strippers at Westernport, southwest of Melbourne. Wedge warned that such incidents could lead to a state of warfare between blacks and white, 'which will only terminate when the black man will cease to exist' ( see 3 May, 1836 ).

Port Phillip sniggers at Scot's high ideals

... the nucleus for a free and useful colony founded on principles of conciliation and civilisation of philanthropy, morality and temperance; without danger of its ever becoming onerous to the Mother Country, and calculated to ensure the well-being and comfort of the Natives. - Immigration philosopher George Mercer, Edinburgh (Scotland), to Lord Glenelg, Secretary for Colonies, London, 16 March, 1836.

• Settlement in Port Phillip had set the tongues a-wagging in the Scottish lowlands. Men of high principles, such as Mercer, offered their unsolicited advice to those in power. The realities were far bloodier.

Home Government admits errors, pardons Martyrs

I have now the honour to enclose to you a copy of a letter which has been received from the Home Department, together with a Free Pardon, which His Majesty has been pleased to grant to George Loveless, and desire that you will give him the benefit thereof. - Lord Glenelg, Secretary for Colonies, London, to Lieut Governor George Arthur, Hobart, 24 March, 1836.

• Arthur, in his last months in Van Diemens Land, had taken something of a shine towards Loveless, his unlikely prisoner. He had his irons struck off, employed him in the Government Domain, and finally sent him to work for a kindly master, Major William de Gillern. Loveless left for England on 30 January, 1837. Four of the others left NSW later than year, followed by the sixth Martyr, James Hammett, later.

Emancipists' plea for a return to despotism!

... they would prefer a recurrence to the old despotic form of Government, under which the Governor for the time being combined the Legislative as well as Executive authority in his own person ... - Emancipists' petition to the British Government, Sydney, 12 April, 1836.

• The Emancipists, led by William Charles Wentworth, said they would rather have the old-style government, led by an all-powerful governor than a Legislative Council dominated by 'Pure Merinos'. (Wentworth was not an emancipist, but his sympathies were strongly with them.)

London caves in to Batman, Fawkner settlement

The settlement at Port Phillip will probably be reinforced by a large number of emigrants, and a considerable introduction of capital from Scotland. I enclose for your information (see 16 March, 1836) , copies of the correspondence in which I have already been engaged with some gentlemen upon that subject. - Lord Glenelg, Secretary for Colonies, London, to Governor Sir Richard Bourke, Sydney, 13 April, 1836.

• The British Government was being exceedingly pragmatic about John Batman's illegal treaty with the aborigines and occupation ( see 26 May, 1835 ) of the future site of Melbourne and its environs. It had already decided not to prosecute Batman and John Pascoe Fawkner, in Melbourne, and the Henty family, at Portland.

Colonial government gets tough on atrocities

Whereas it has been represented to me that a flagrant outrage has been committed against the aboriginal natives of Westernport by a party of white men ... all persons who may be guilty (of any breach of the law protecting Aborigines), to be brought to trial before the Supreme Court of New South Wales and punished accordingly. - Proclamation by Governor Sir Richard Bourke, Sydney, 3 May, 1836.

• The Government was beginning to take a harder line against white men who wantonly killed aborigines. Two years later, seven men were hanged for murdering aborigines at Myall Creek, northern NSW.

Military jury decides whether a convict can kill a bushranger

On 14 May, 1836, an assigned convict William Dasey (aka Casey, aka D'Arcy etc) came before the Supreme Court of NSW charged with murdering a runaway convict (or 'bushranger'). The case raised some tricky questions about Dasey's guilt or otherwise under the Bushrangers Act, introduced in 1830 ...

Before the Acting Chief Justice and a Military Jury, William Dasey alias Casey stood indicted for the wilful murder of Peter Hanns, at Ballantyne Creek, in the district of Cassillis, on the 12th February, by beating him with a stick. It appeared from the evidence that prisoner was assigned to a Mr. Vincent, and that deceased was a runaway living in the neighbouring bush; both parties were well acquainted with each other; on the day charged in the indictment prisoner invited the deceased into his hut, and after giving him some victuals, produced some run, of which the latter drank until he became intoxicated; he then bound his arms behind his back, and with a thick stick beat him about the head and body in such a dreadful manner as caused the death of Hanns two days afterwards; after this prisoner (Dasey) absconded, but was subsequently taken about 80 miles from his master's station; when taken into custody, and coming along the road with the constable, he asked the latter if it would not be better for him to tell the truth; the constable answered in the affirmative; when prisoner said that he and deceased had been drinking together, and when he struck the latter he did not mean to hurt him, but was quite willing to die for it. The fact of prisoner having so maltreated deceased was clearly established by evidence independent of prisoner's confession.

Prisoner (Dasey) in defence put in a written statement, which was to the effect that deceased had entered his hut and robbed him, and also threatened to shoot him - a few days before the assault was committed, on the day charged, he met with him and made him drunk in order that he (prisoner) might the more easily secure him, and by that means compel the deceased to disclose where he had 'planted' the things stolen.

His Honor, in putting the case to the Jury, said the case was involved in some degree of uncertainty, obscurity, and doubt; inasmuch as many parts were substantiated only by the statement of the prisoner himself. He further observed that by a necessary and salutary local law, all constables and free men were authorised to detain any person whom they had reasonable grounds to suspect were transported felons, or offenders illegally at large; this they might do without warrant, but they were bound to take them before the nearest Justice of the Peace. But the man at the bar being himself a prisoner of the Crown, was not under the local ordnance empowered to take the deceased into custody. But if they believed the evidence, even supposing he had been empowered to take the man, the law did not justify him in beating the deceased in so barbarous a manner when both his arms and feet were tied. If a constable had done so, he would have been responsible for the consequences.

Prisoner by law had no right to take the man into custody, and if by blows (when he had such illegal custody) death ensued, it was to all intent and meaning murder. - Sydney Gazette , 17 May, 1836.

• The military men and the jury retired for a few minutes, found Dasey guilty, he he was sentenced to hang.

Corrupt Arthur finally recalled to England

REJOICE FOR THE DAY OF RETRIBUTION HAS ARRIVED! - Colonial Times , Hobart, 31 May, 1836.

• George Arthur, Lieut Governor for twelve long years, was finally recalled to London.

No one has more reason to cast himself unreservedly upon the mercy of God than I have. - Letter from Lieut Governor George Arthur during his journey home from Hobart to England, 1836.

• Arthur, a fierce Calvinist, founded the Port Arthur penal station. He would have based his favour in the eyes of his God on the acts he had committed on earth, such has having an offender hanged when the wounds he received from a flogging for the same offence had not yet healed. He considered the strictness of his regime to be a deterrent to crime in Britain. At the same time, he piously compiled a fortune in Van Diemens Land.

Emigration idealist Wakefield loses hope for WA

That colony (Western Australia), which was founded with a general hope in this country, amongst very intelligent persons of all descriptions, that it would a most prosperous colony, has all but perished. - Emigration philosopher Edward Gibbon Wakefield, evidence to the House of Commons Waste Lands Committee, London, 1836.

• The colony had not quite perished. But Wakefield partly blamed its near-demise on the secondary emigration of labourers to Van Diemens Land and NSW.

Mitchell ploughs across his 'Australia Felix'

I therefore named this isolated and remarkable feature Swan Hill. - Surveyor General Thomas Mitchell, Murray River, Victoria, 20 June, 1836.

• The gallant major, fresh from a pre-emptive strike against aborigines, was disturbed from his sleep by the honking of Cygnus atratus, the black swan.

I had at length discovered a country ready for the immediate reception of civilised man ... of this Eden I was the first European to explore its mountains and streams ... and, by my survey, to develop those natural advantages, certain to become, at no distant date, of vast importance to a new people. - Surveyor General Major Thomas Mitchell, near Ararat (Vic), 11 July, 1836.

• Mitchell had come upon his Australia Felix, the volcanic plains of the Victorian Western District, destined to become some of the finest fine wool areas in the world. Within a year, squatters were following the tracks of his boat dray south from NSW.

The sun rose amid red and stormy clouds, and vast masses of white vapour concealed from view both sea and land. Towards the interior, the horizon was clear, and during a short interval I took what angles I could obtain. To the westward, the view of the mountain ranges was truly grand ... - Surveyor General Major Thomas Mitchell, Grampians (Vic), 14 July, 1836.

• Mitchell ascended Mount William, named after Queen Victoria's immediate predecessor. It should be said he was not the sole European discoverer of these delights; he had twenty-five men in his party.

Toddler is first white settler in South Australia

We pulled a good bit of a way, and the captain he directed us from the ship to a place to land. I told the men to hang on their oars, and I took the baby girl - a nice little thing it was - ashore and put her feet down on the sand. - Seaman Robert Russell, Kingscote, Kangaroo Island, 27 July, 1836.

• Baby Elizabeth Beare was the first settler to land in the new colony of South Australia. She was a passenger aboard the first of nine ships to reach the colony in 1836. Robert Russell related the story to the Adelaide Observer in 1886.

Mitchell finds the Hentys have got there first

Repaired dray and shifted hurdles at Wattle Hill. Showery all day. On my return home found Major Mitchell and six men, one native boy, from Sydney. He left his main party about 30 miles NE and came here for the purpose of getting the true position of Cape Bridgewater. He had not the most distant thought of our being here, and was not a little surprised to find Englishmen in this part of the world. - Journal of Edward Henty, squatter, Portland (Vic), 29 August, 1836.

• The Hentys' cover as illegal squatters was blown. Astonished officialdom, in the form of Major Thomas Mitchell, had stumbled upon their private domain. His explorations threw open the rich Western District to overlanding squatters.

It was not the least interesting scene in these, my Australian travels, to witness from a verandah on a beautiful afternoon at Portland Bay, the humours of the whale fishery, and all those wondrous perils of harpooners and whale boats, of which I had delighted to read as scenes of 'the stormy north'. - Surveyor General Major Thomas Mitchell, Portland (Vic), 30 August, 1836.

• Mitchell was about to leave the Hentys' establishment when he was detained by the pursuit of a whale.

Port Phillip District opened to squatters

... I have the honour to state that I lost no time in acting upon (your) permission ... to open the country about Port Phillip to settlers and to establish civil authority in the district for the protection of the aborigines and the due administration of the laws. - Governor Sir Richard Bourke, Sydney, to Lord Glenelg, Secretary for Colonies, London, 15 September, 1836.

Certainly a land more favourable for colonisation could not be found. Flocks might be turned out upon its hills, or the plough at once set to work in the plains. No primeval forests required at first rooted out, although there was enough wood for all purposes of utility. - Surveyor General Major Thomas Mitchell, Western District (Vic), 21 September, 1836.

I at length recognised Port Phillip and the intervening country round it. At the vast distance I could trace no sign of life, although at the highest northern point of the bay I saw a mass of white objects which might have been tents or vessels. I gave the mountain on which I stood the name of Mount Macedon with reference to that of Port Phillip. - Surveyor General Major Thomas Mitchell, Mount Macedon (Vic), Three Expeditions in the interior of Eastern Australia , 30 September, 1836.

We are glad to find from the official announcement of the circumstance that Major Mitchell and his party have been heard of, all well, at Portland Bay on their way home. We have no doubt Major Mitchell will visit Port Phillip. From his appearance on the south coast we are led to suppose that the object of his journey, the course of the Darling, has been fully determined by him, and that the river has been found to join the Murray as conjectured by Captain Sturt. - Sydney Gazette , 6 October, 1836.

• The Gazette heard the news by way of a ship from Portland to Launceston, and another to Sydney. They did not know that the Major had failed once again to complete charting the Darling.

Colonel William Light lands to found Adelaide

Running down the coast, I was enchanted with the extent of the plain to the northward of the Mount Lofty range; and as we had very little wind, our progress was slow, and consequently more time for observation; all the glasses in the ship were in requisition. At length seeing something like the mouth of a small river, and a country with trees so dispersed as to allow the sight of most luxuriant green underneath, I immediately stood in for it, and at fifteen minutes past four. p.m., came to an anchor in three and a half fathoms in mud and weeds, about one and a half miles from the mouth of the river. - Diary of William Light, founder of Adelaide, Rapid , Holdfast Bay (SA), 3 October, 1836.

• Light, recently appointed surveyor-general of the new colony of South Australia, left England on the Rapid with some staff on I May, 1836. The rest of the team had come five weeks earlier on the Cygnet .. The first 546 settlers, with Governor John Hindmarsh, were due in December. Light was given a ludicrously-difficult task by the Colonisation Commissioners in London: he had to survey nearly 3000km of coastline, chose and survey the town site, divide the country into 150 sections and reserve sites for the lesser towns. Light's choice of the present site of Adelaide brought him into conflict with Hindmarsh, responsible for legislative and judicial matters and who wanted a site closer to the sea (preferably Encounter Bay). The third member of the triangle was the Resident Commissioner of the SA company, James Fisher, who was in charge of migration and land sales. On 3 October, having a surveyed the coast, Light and his party landed by gig boat and were delighted at the country they found.

' .... an abundance of freshwater lagoons ...'

I cannot express my delight at seeing no bounds to a flat of fine rich-looking country with an abundance of fresh-water lagoons, which, if dry in summer, convinced me that need not dig a deep well to give a sufficient supply. The little river too, was deep; and it struck me that much might hereafter be made of this little stream. - Diary of William Light, South Australian surveyor-general, Holdfast Bay (SA) 4 October, 1836.

• Light's instructions from the Colonisation Commissioners in London (issued on 9 March, 1836, before he sailed from England) said: When you have determined the site of the first town, you will proceed to lay it out in accordance with the 'Regulations for the Preliminary Sales of Colonial Lands in the Country'. You will make the streets of ample width, and arrange them with reference to the convenience of the inhabitants and the beauty and salubrity of the town; and you will make the necessary reserves for squares, public walks, and quays.

Robert Gouger, Colonial Secretary, wrote later: The town itself, besides the streets, squares, and public walks, occupies 1,000 acres, 300 of which are on the north side of the Torrens, the name given to the river dividing Adelaide. Around the town is a park 500 yards wide retained for public walks; and in various parts of the town are six squares, besides some unequally-sided pieces, caused by the unevenness of the locality, and which are intended to be made, some time or other, ornamental Places. Ten acres of land, close to the town in a very beautiful position, and abutting on the Torrens, are reserved as the government domain; and upon these the government-hut is now standing. Some land is set apart for a botanical garden, and this comprises slopes of almost all available inclinations and aspects; this again abuts upon the Torrens, and is about a quarter of a mile west of the town. The sites of a hospital, public cemetery, government stores, and schools, are placed outside the town, but on the park-land; and those of the public offices of the government, such as the colonial secretary's office, land-office, &c. are in the middle of the town. For the selection of this delightful spot, the plan of the town itself, and the arrangement of the public buildings, the province is deeply indebted to the highly cultivated taste of Colonel Light.

Light is delighted with his choice for the city

Employed nearly all day examining the plain, and looking out for the best situation for the capital. I was delighted with the appearance of the country, and the supply of fresh water we were certain of possessing; at four p.m., I had the pleasure of seeing the Governor and Mr. Fisher, and we agreed on going the following day to look at the place I had selected for the capital . Diary of William Light, founder of Adelaide, Holdfast Bay (SA), 29 December, 1836.

• Light had to bite the bullet and show Hindmarsh his chosen site, but the sea-loving Governor was already a firm opponent, and would stay so until his recall to England in 1838.

Hindmarsh says Light's pick is okay, but ...

His Excellency expressed his sense of the beauty of the place, but said it was too far from the harbour, and after much reasoning on both sides, I agreed to walk with him by the river and see if another spot nearer the harbour could be found more convenient for trade although it might lose much in other points; we determined at last on placing the capital near the river, about a mile and a half lower down the bank ... On examining the following day some distance up and down the river, I saw evident marks of the river overflowing its banks, and this made me resolve on the first site I had chosen. - Diary of William Light, founder of Adelaide, Adelaide, 30 December, 1836.

Light, dying, gladly accepts blame for Adelaide!

Deeply feeling the importance of the trust imposed upon me by the Commissioners when they confided solely to me the task of selecting a site for the capital of the province; and feeling yet more the fact the the well-being of thousands is now connected with, and may, in a great measure, depend upon the correctness of the decision I then made, I am anxious, if possible, to convince the Commissioners and the public that I endeavoured scrupulously to do my duty, and that my exertions have been conscientiously directed to the good of the colony. The reasons that led me to fix Adelaide where it is I do not expect to be generally understood or calmly judged of at present. My enemies, however, by disputing their validity in every particular, have done me the good service of fixing the whole of the responsibility upon me. I am perfectly willing to bear it; and I leave it to posterity, and not to them, to decide whether I am entitled to praise or to blame. - William Light, founder of Adelaide, Theberton Cottage (near Adelaide), 28 March, 1839.

• Light died of tuberculosis on 6 October, 1839, in a cottage named after a village in Suffolk of which he had fond memories and was buried in the city square which bear his name. He left his diminished fortune to Mary Gandy, who had come out with him on the Rapid , and nursed him in his final months.

Contrariness of the colonial climate

A pewter jug had been accidentally left outside the tent in a tin dish containing some water, and on lifting up the jug to my surprise the dish came up with it, for the water has frozen to an eighth of an inch in thickness. This astonished me in a country where I did not expect to see such a thing, and yet the thermometer rose that day to 110 degrees. - Diary of settler Mary Thomas, Holdfast Bay (near Adelaide), 14 November, 1836.

• Mary, her husband, Robert, their children and two printer employees had arrived in the Africaine , one of the pioneer ships to Adelaide. When they had come to terms with the climate, they established a newspaper dynasty, beginning with the South Australian Register in 1837.

Hindmarsh's hopes for happiness (oh, dear!)

May the present unanimity continue as long as South Australia exists ! - Governor John Hindmarsh, Holdfast Bay, South Australia, 28 December, 1836.

• Hindmarsh, the colony's first governor, made his rousing declaration the day after he arrived in the vessel Buffalo . But his aspirations for unanimity were not to be; he was recalled in 1838 after constant disagreements with other officials, particularly the Colonial Secretary, Robert Gouger, Resident Commissioner James Hurtle Fisher and Surveyor General William Light.

Adelaide is 7 miles from the port which prevents it from being a commercial town but that makes no difference for the farmer. The trees is about 15 to 18 feet around the butt. On arrival of the surveyors, they set fire to the grass which was about 2 feet long. It has burnt the heart out of some of the trees and the bark of others, yet they are growing and as fine and green as a laurel bush. - Settler Rosina Ferguson, Adelaide, 15 February, 1837.

Arthur finally finds excuse for convicts!

I think that many of those who have been sent out have been driven to commit the offence ... through want. - Former Governor Sir George Arthur, Parliamentary Papers, London. 1837.

• Arthur finally conceded that many convicts had good reason for doing what they did. After a long term of twelve years as Lieut Governor of Van Diemens Land, during which he became privately wealthy, he was recalled to London in 1836-37. Late in 1837, he was appointed Lieut Governor of Upper Canada.

Settlement at Port Phillip: The Bottom Line

Salaries and allowances, 445 pounds, one shillings and fivepence three farthing; Outfit and passage-money to officers and men, 327 pounds; Horses and harness, 361 pounds, two and sixpence; Tents, articles of equipment, tools, stores and other supplies, 335 pounds, sixteen shillings and tenpence; Clothing and bedding, 156 pounds, ten shillings; Timbers, bricks, iron, lime, and other materials, 102 pounds, fourteen shillings and tenpence farthing; Wages to military labourers, 11 pounds, 19 shillings and tuppence; Stationary and printing, 93 pounds thirteen shillings; Whale boat and oars, 32 pounds seventeen shillings and sixpence; Presents of clothing, blankets and badges to aborigines, $160 pounds, three shillings and fourpence; Freight from Sydney of the frame for a house, horses and stores, 132 pounds, eighteen shillings; Conveyance of stores, Five pounds. Total, 2164 pounds, sixteen shillings and eightpence. - NSW Legislative Council 'Estimates' for Port Phillip settlement, May, 1837.

• The 'frame for a house' was the original Customs House, although an awful lot of duty free must have slipped into the illegal settlement during its twelve months of freedom from officialdom.

Overlanders, overstraiters invade Port Phillip

Left the Tarcutta and moved on to a small creek with sufficient water but boggy. Grass abundant but very coarse. Dapto, a native black, and his gin came into the camp. He told us that the Murray was rising and that a great number of blacks from that river were coming up to fight the Donmot tribe. He went away from his gin because I would not allow him to throw firebrands at her and beat her. - Squatter Alexander Mollison, overlanding from NSW to Victoria, 23 May, 1837

• Mollison, who had considerable English capital, left from a station near Yass, NSW, in April, 1837, with 5000 sheep, 600 head of cattle and eighteen hired men and assigned convicts. He settled in the Kyneton district, northwest of Melbourne.

I found, at the beginning of March last, that the population in the whole district exceeded 500 souls, and, before I left Melbourne at the end of that month, the flocks which had been sent from Van Diemens Land, numbered more than 100,000 sheep. - Governor Sir Richard Bourke, Sydney, to Lord Glenelg, Secretary for Colonies, London, 14 June, 1837.

• Bourke had visited Melbourne and liked what he saw. He named the future city, ordered the streets laid out and made suggestions about the appointment of a lieut governor or commandant.

Mr Hamilton Hume, accompanied by Mr George Barber and Dr Mackie, of Yass, came to the river (Murray) this morning. Close to us stands a tree on which Mr Hume cut 'Hume River' 13 years ago, when with Captain Hovell, he travelled overland to Port Phillip or Western Port. He planted clover and peach stones round the tree but we could not find any appearance of their having grown. - Squatter Alexander Mollison, overlanding from NSW to Victoria, 22 June, 1837.

• The party was at Albury, NSW, the main crossing place on the Murray. Hume and Hovell discovered the river and named it the Hume on 16 November, 1824, but the name was changed to Murray by Charles Sturt in 1830.

Men drunk and refractory, refusing to come to their duty. - Squatter Alexander Mollison, Melbourne, 6 August, 1837.

• Mollison, having chosen his run near Kyneton, travelled to Melbourne with some hired men to purchase supplies. They took the opportunity to indulge in the liquid delights of the raw settlement, just one year old.

Quel joli mont! - Sophie La Trobe, Swiss-French wife of Charles, Melbourne, c. late-1837.

• Thus history was made in the naming of the Melbourne suburb of Jolimont, where the La Trobes erected their prefabricated house. It no longer looks so 'joli' with the Melbourne Cricket Ground squatting across it.

1837: The vivacious young Victoria succeeds to the throne on the death of William IV (when the paint was hardly dry on such names as 'Adelaide' and 'King William Street'.) She would rule until Federation of the Australian Colonies in 1901.

Wombarty is freed on a BIG technicality

On 14 August, 1837, a most baffling case came before the NSW Supreme Court. The principal players were Justice Sir William Burton, a Calvinist missionary preacher-cum-interpreter, Lancelot Threlkeld, his aboriginal off-sider with the unlikely name of McGill, an enlightened lawyer, Richard Windeyer and a suspected aboriginal murderer named Wombarty ...

A discussion of some interest took place in the Supreme Court on Monday last on the subject of the trial of an aboriginal native, named Wombarty, belonging to the Port Macquarie tribe, who was arraigned before Judge Sir William Burton on a charge of murder, of an exceedingly atrocious character, committed at Port Macquarie. Mr Windeyer, who had been ordered by the Court to act as counsel for the prisoner, moved that the case should be adjourned until an interpreter could be found sufficiently acquainted with the dialect of the Port Macquarie tribe, to explain to the Black the offence for which he was indicted. Neither the Reverend Mr Threlkeld nor the interpreter, McGill, were sufficiently acquainted with that dialect to carry on a conversation with the accused, without the aid of a third party, and even with his assistance, the charge did not seem to be sufficiently understood by the prisoner. Under these circumstances he thought that the case should be adjourned. His Honor Judge Burton proceeded to put some questions to McGill the aboriginal, who has always attended at the Supreme Court with Mr Threlkeld, when trials of his countrymen were about to come on. From his answers, it appeared that although he had been for many years under Mr. T.'s instruction, he is not yet aware of the nature of an oath. His Honor refused to allow the case to proceed until the Crown could furnish a proper interpreter, one to whom the Court could with propriety administer an oath. The Attorney General informed the Court that the murders of which the prisoner stood accused, had been committed under circumstances of peculiar atrocity, the men having been butchered while asleep in their huts. It was almost a matter of impossibility for the Crown to find an interpreter such as was required, but as his Honor refused to try the case, all he could do would be to write to the Magistrates at Port Macquarie to procure an interpreter from the interior, who should be instructed in the nature of an oath. The prisoner was then remanded until next Sessions. - Sydney Gazette , 19 August 1837.

• Men rode into the interior to try to find a solution. Someone had to be found who could interpret for Wombarty ... and administer the all-important Oath. Finally, the case resumed on 18 November. The Attorney-General, John Plunkett, explained the problem ....

Wombarty, a native black, was placed at the bar. The Attorney-General said that this was a very distressing case, and one in which he did not know how to act; the prisoner, as Mr Justice Burton would remember, was placed at the bar in August last on a charge of murder; he is a native of the district of New England, at the back of Port Macquarie, a district so remote, and where the dialect is so different from that ordinarily spoken by the natives, that no European could be found who understood it. McGill, the black who was known to the court, could partly understand him, but unfortunately McGill himself was not a competent witness. He had no means of making the prisoner understand the charge, which was a most brutal murder - murdering four Europeans in their beds, and McGill said that the prisoner confessed he had done it. He had written to the Police Magistrate at Port Macquarie, who had used every endeavour to procure an interpreter but could not get one; and Mr. McDonald, who was conversant with the dialect of most of the natives, could not make himself understood by him. Under these circumstances he (the Attorney General) was obliged to leave the prisoner in the hands of the court. The Acting Chief Justice said that they must discharge the prisoner if the Attorney General had no case against him; it was a case for which the law did not provide. Wombarty was then discharged. - Sydney Gazette , 23 November, 1837.

Adelaide claimed ... and acclaimed

All accounts, without a single exception, give a most favourable description of the climate and country. No where else in Australia has such fertile land been discovered close to the sea. Around the site of Adelaide, undulating plains of great extent, and thinly studded with trees like an English park, seem equally fit for agriculture and pasturage. - Spectator , London, 18 November, 1837.

To Farmers, Hinds (farm servants ) and Farm Labourers ... Persons of the above description will be taken out free of expense (to South Australia) in fine large and commodious ships, with abundance of excellent Provisions and the benefits of Medical attendance. - Alfred B. Duckham, Immigration Agent, Falmouth, England, c. 1837.

The city of Adelaide must not only become the capital of Australia, but the commercial metropolis of all the vast regions of N.S. Wales, which lie upon the Yass, the Murrumbidgee, and the streams discovered by Major Mitchell in the part of the Territory he has denominated Australia Felix . - Letter to the Sydney Colonist , 1837.

• This letter brought the following response from the Colonist's editor: Our South Australian friends are somewhat too sanguine in supposing the the Murray is to be the outlet for produce of the whole of the extensive country recently discovered by Major Mitchell. A large portion of it lies better in to Port Phillip, which will, doubtless at no distant period, be the capital of a flourishing colony, independent of NSW.

Judge's correct finding about imminent demise

The Lord have mercy upon our Souls, for we shall all be drowned. - Sir John Jeffcott, Encounter Bay, South Australia, 12 December, 1837.

• Well, he was. Jeffcott, South Australia's first judge, died when a whaleboat taking him to Van Diemens Land, overturned near the mouth of the Murray River. He intended to marry his cousin, Anne Caromed, in Hobart and seek a judicial post there to escape the 'dreadful dissensions' in Adelaide.

Booze causes crime, says John Dunmore Lang

Drunkenness is the sole procuring cause of transportation in the case of a large proportion of the prison population of these colonies. - Clergyman and activist John Dunmore Lang , Transportation and Colonisation, Sydney , 1837.

Melbourne's first handwritten newspaper, 1838

Horses shod, cash, us up; credit, us up; all other work in proportions. - Advertisement, Melbourne Advertiser , 8 January, 1838.

• Early copies of John Pascoe Fawkner's Advertiser were hand-written, probably by the proprietor himself, were sold at sixpence a copy and the entire print run was about ten. By April, he had secured an antiquated printing press in Launceston and the laborious days of hand penmanship were over.

Friends shoot, burn new mates

One to two bushels of human bones, calcined, some human teeth and also hair was found unburnt and a quantity of buttons from the clothes of the murdered men. - Melbourne Advertiser , 8 January, 1838.

• Two convicts named Cumerford and Signum, probably escapees from a NSW-Port Phillip overlanding party, bumped into a band of seven other absconders in the bush. Eventually, Cumerford and Signum tired of the others, shot them and threw them in the fire. Cumerford, the lucky one, was hanged. Poor Signum got secondary life transportation.

Alas, poor mother didn't see her Frank again

My dear Frank, I must say a few words to you just to tell you how much I think of you and how anxious I am to hear of your welfare and that you are well and are doing well. We should very much like to come out to you if it were possible, Your affectionate Mother ... - Elizabeth Potts, Portsmouth, England, 23 January, 1838.

• Frank Potts was aged twenty-one when he arrived in Adelaide on the Buffalo 1836. His mother, Elizabeth, and father, Lawrence, followed him in 1840, but she died at sea. In 1850, he established the Bleasdale winery at Langhorne Creek, near the Murray mouth in South Australia.

Invasion: fierce battle kills eight white shepherds

... I sent on my brother's sheep, under charge of his overseer, to the Broken River to await my coming up. Unfortunately, within a few days after their arrival there, they were attacked by the aborigines, many of his men murdered, the stock scattered through the country, and about 200 pounds worth of property then in the drays taken away. - George Faithful writing of events in autumn, 1838, Letters from Victorian Pioneers , 1853.

• William Faithfull's shepherds (eight out of eighteen died) were victims of the most fierce aboriginal attack on overlanders making their way from NSW to Victoria. Survivors estimated that 300 tribesmen took part in the assault, near the present city of Wangaratta.

300,000 lashes a year! Even British MPs shocked

... transportation is not a single punishment, but rather a series of punishments, embracing every degree of human suffering, from the lowest, consisting of a slight restraint upon the freedom of action, to the highest, consisting of long and tedious torture ... - Report of House of Commons Committee on Transportation, London, 1838.

• In NSW in 1835, where much of the committee's evidence was gathered, there were about 7000 convicts in gaols, 1000 in iron gangs and 20,000 assigned to masters. One in four was flogged annually. The Commons called for a 'return' on the total number of lashes inflicted each year and was horrified to learn it was 300,000.

Melbourne: Convict labourer's desperate rage

On Wednesday last, the prisoner, Michael Duffy (Caroline, 1831, Life) was in the Police Office and after receiving his sentence turned around and struck Constable Williamson and other evidencers and used threatening language. Sentenced to 12 months in irons. - Melbourne Court Register, 12 March, 1838.

• Duffy was one of 98 convicts, mostly specialist tradesmen, who were brought to the Port Phillip District from Van Diemens Land in 1836-37. They commonly appeared in the early courts in Melbourne or Geelong, usually for refusing work or attempting to escape.

1838: Isambard Kingdom Brunel's steamship, Great Western , leaves Britain for US, 8 April. Great Britain , which made several voyages to Melbourne in the Gold Rush was launched, 1843.

Death on the high seas saddens SA settlers

Death now commenced its fearful course and continued with unnatural speed to the end of our voyage. The young generally fell victims, although two adults died among us. The Rites of the dead at all times solemn and impressive were still more so at sea. The necessary haste, and apparently rude manner of consigning a body to the deep is well calculated to call to remembrance that 'all flesh is but grass' . - William Prescott, settler, bound for South Australia, 12 July, 1838.

Let's admit it: convicts are slaves

Do not think it is the Prisoners that demoralise these colonies. They are bad no doubt ... but being made Domestic Slaves they are universally made worse, and their condition even more than themselves reacts on the free Community. We are slaves and slave-holders, both of the worst character - the first not having been born in that condition, but thrust down to it, and the second without any parental feeling for their bondsmen, but on the contrary, jealous suspicious and disdainful towards them to the last degree. - Observations, Alexander Maconochie, Hobart, 21 July, 1838.

• Maconochie, secretary to the Lieut Governor, Sir John Franklin, objected most of all to the practice of assignment, which he called 'domestic slavery'. In 1840, this earnest young reformer was appointed commandant at Norfolk Island.

Sweet prelude to massacre of 14 April, 1841

Mr Bonney was playing a few sweet airs on his flute by the riverside for the amusement of a listening group of about forty blacks, pleasant, good-humoured looking fellows, some of them fervent admirers. I have often noticed that the finest-looking men are fondest of hearing the music. - Joseph Hawdon, overlander, near Lake Victoria, NSW, 1838.

• Hawdon and Charles Bonney drove cattle from Howlong, NSW, to the dinner tables of the infant settlement of Adelaide, along the course of the Murray. Those fine aborigines Hawdon saw were probably among an estimated 300 massacred at Rufus River, near Lake Victoria, by an official punitive party from Adelaide in April, 1841 (see 27 August, 1841.)

An emigrant mother laments her dead children

I never look at the sea without lamenting our poor dear children. I was in hopes I would feel their loss less as time wore away but I feel it more every day. Every box I open holds some little gift or something belonging to our darlings. My days are long and heavy. My patchwork will get done now. - Sarah Brunskill, settler, bound for South Australia, late-1838.

• Mrs Brunskill was writing to her parents in England, off the Canary Islands. Both her children had died since leaving Portsmouth.

Chief applies for job

Make me the head of them, and not a bushranger shall escape my tribe. - Biraban, aboriginal leader to Governor Sir George Gipps, 1838.

• Gipps was considering forming an aboriginal police unit. Biraban, who was born near Newcastle about 1819, became a firm friend of the whites and spoke good English.

Conservatism's bastion in Melbourne founded

We are about to form a Club, which is by no means a bad thing here, where Society is less select than at home; the first people in the place are members - I feel flattered in having been requested to join, and I have no doubt it will afford a comfortable method of meeting Gentlemen, and give to Bachelors, especially such as frequently come in from the bush, a quiet and economical home . - Surveyor Robert Russell, private letter, Melbourne, 17 November, 1838.

• Thus, in the muddy streets of the frontier settlement, rose that bastion of conservatism, the Melbourne Club.

Hume v. Sturt, a long and sad media quarrel

I by no means wish to take away from the credit of another individual, much less that of Mr Hume, whose superior talents as an explorer I have for ever been ready to admit. When I named the Murray I was in great measure ignorant of other rivers with which it was connected, but if my knowledge then had been as extensive as it is now, I should still have considered myself justified in adopting the usage of other travellers, and giving a name to that river down which and up I have toiled more than 4000 miles. - Explorer Charles Sturt, Sydney Gazette , 21 November, 1838.

• The aborigines along the river must have had a laugh as they perused their copies of the Gazette . They probably had one hundred names for the river. After all, it WAS theirs. Sturt named it after Sir George Murray, Secretary for Colonies at the time.

Myall Creek Massacre: seven convicts hanged

Prisoners, you have been found guilty of the crime of murder by a jury of your countrymen. A point was reserved by consideration in your favour; by abandoning that point your counsel have confirmed the impression which already existed in the minds of the Court. You have all been sent to this colony for some crime committed at home; you lost your liberty for some cause or other, though some of you have retained that liberty by service. You are acquainted with the law which says, whoever is guilty of murder shall suffer death. This law is no convenient law, no common rule of life formed for common purposes; it is founded on the law of God, which was laid down, 'Who so sheddeth man's blood, by man shall his blood by shed'. No human legislature could dare to depart from law originating in the Deity, which has existed in its force since the days of Adam. The atrocious circumstances attending the crime of which you have been found guilty, must have convinced you long ere this of the result which must follow the conviction. This is not a case of that description which has so indelibly stained the annals of the colony; there was here no drunken brawl when the blood of the murderer and the exciting poison mingled together on the ground. There was here no provocation; no cause for anger. Men, women, children, even babes hanging from mother's breasts, not less than thirty altogether of these unfortunate, defenceless blacks, who were quietly reposing around their evening fire, believing themselves safe in the friendship of one of you, were suddenly surrounded by a party of horsemen, and when showing their full reliance on the former professions of that man, they rushing to his hut for protection, in blind hope for safety into the net which had been prepared for them. In the midst of their cries and sighs and tears they are bound by a cord and led to slaughter. These remarks are not made to add to the pain you must now experience, they are made for the benefit of standers by. I sincerely hope that the grace of God may soften and penetrate the hardened hearts that could surround a funeral pyre lighted by themselves, and gloat on the torment and suffering of so many of their fellow beings. Great pains had been taken by you, or by someone deeply interested in the concealment of your crimes, to remove every vestige which might tend to clear up the mystery of them. But Heaven was cognisant of the crime and sent its attesting witnesses. A day before the murder was committed, a shower of rain falls, and the ground so softened received the tracks made by you on your road to the scene of the crime. Birds of prey darkened the clouds over the spot, and who would not be attracted by such a sight. A man wondered whether it were an ox or ass which attracted such ravenous hordes. From Dr Newton's to Mr Dangar's, and from Mr Danger's to the fatal spot were found your guilty tracks, thus affording the strongest corroboration to the charges against you. This crime, again, has not been committed without the greatest consideration and premeditation; you plans were freely made; your plans were carefully laid; days before you were seen, some eight or nine of you, preparing yourselves for the guilty consummation of your purpose. On the Saturday, you went to Dr Newton's. What was your errand? Seeking out the unfortunate blacks? and on the Sabbath, that day which should be hallowed by all, you perform this incomparable act of cruelty as if to make the deed doubly atrocious. You know the English laws, so there must have been some moving cause, some hidden hope that your crime would be concealed by parties interested, and who must have urged you on. You have flattered yourselves vainly; and I hope that if there be any parties interested in concealment, they will be discovered, for the law holds the life of the black as dear as the white. In doing my duty as a judge, I have my feelings as a man, and I do, in sincerely commiserating your unfortunate state, trust that no other motive than that set forth in the information, has induced you to the crime. I trust that it was your having been seduced by the Devil, and not having the fear of God before your eyes alone that urged you on, and that you have been induced by the persuasions of others; for, if it be so, it will be brought to light and they will receive their punishment. At the distance you were placed, fifteen miles to any police station, any interference or protection was rendered unavailable to you, and perhaps it was a great misfortune for you to be so placed. Whatever private feeling may exist, I must not allow them to interfere with the stern duty imposed upon me by law - and that it to deliver the sentence due to your crime, which is - that each and every of you be taken from this place to whence you came and from there to a place of execution to be hanged b y the neck until you are dead, and may God have mercy upon your souls. - Judge William Burton, Supreme Court (NSW), Sydney, 5 December, 1838.

• On 9 June, 1838, a party of convicts led by a free man, John Fleming, slaughtered 28 aborigines at Myall Creek, near Inverell, in northern NSW. In an historic case, eleven were brought to trial, but acquitted. A juror said later: I look on the blacks as a set of monkeys, and I think the earlier they are exterminated, the better. The conservative Sydney Herald, voice of the squatters, shared that view. After the killers were found not guilty at a first Myall Creek trial, seven men were charged with murder at the behest of the young Attorney-General, John Plunkett. They were found guilty and hanged. The case outraged the squatters, but it served warning to the all-powerful squattocracy and their men that aborigines were firmly under the protection of British justice. Judge Burton, a Royal Navy officer before he was called to the bar in England, was a committed Christian and humanitarian who wept frequently as he read the benchmark Myall Creek sentence. Some his anguish may have been caused by the realisation that the true initiators of the crime escaped punishment. One of these was Fleming, the massacre leader, who disappeared. The squatters' voice, the Sydney Herald remained firm in the conviction it had expressed before the trial: The British people took possession; and they had a perfect right to do so, under the Divine authority by which man was commanded to go forth and people, and till the land. Herein we find the right to the dominion which the British Crown, or, more properly speaking, the British people, exercise over the continent of New Holland.

Wow! From mud hut to Government House

We are still sleeping in tents and marquees. Our new house will be very commodious - we are having our domain railed in and well dug - our present thatched mud cottage is very pleasantly situated fronting the river 'Torrens' a mere narrow stream. - Maria Gawler, Adelaide, 7 December, 1838.

• Mrs Gawler, wife of South Australia's second governor, George Gawler, thought the new Government House, of two storey and twelve rooms, was 'a pretty looking comfortable house ... not at all suited for a Government House'. A goodly number of the citizenry of Adelaide thought it rather too grand for the infant colony. Mrs Gawler did not have to tolerate it for long. Her husband was recalled in 1841.

Myall Creek debate rages

In order that their cattle might never more be 'rushed', it was resolved to exterminate the whole race of blacks in the quarter. - Monitor , Sydney, 14 December, 1838.

• The anti-squatter Monitor's comment was made four days before the execution of the Myall Creek killers was carried out. The debate about the rights and wrongs of the trial continued, with many conservatives still convinced of their right to the land at any cost to the indigenous people.

Immigrant drunks locked up in ship's brig

Not much recording except a capital dinner; fresh mutton and pork, plum pudding, mince pies and champagne; so much for the privations of a sea voyage - the most disagreeable incident connected with Xmas festivities is drunkenness among the men, some of whom last night were in a state of subordination and one was put in irons . - Henry Watson, settler, bound for South Australia, 25 December, 1838.

Gay (well,1839-style) gathering beside the Yarra

The spirit that dwells on the wavelets of the Yarra Yarra, if we may use so bold a metaphor, must have gazed up from his sedgy throne in mute astonishment when he beheld the gay, though strange and intruding, company of foreigners that swept up the stream of his ancient domain on a late joyous occasion. We can imagine the rapid and changing shades that chequered his sea-green countenance when he heard the light musical laughter and beheld the beaming of the bright eyes that starred themselves in the water of his own silent stream, as it were to mock the deep repose from which they had awakened the river god; heedless of his indignant looks, and the wondering gaze of large-eyed 'loobras' who ran from spot to spot to scan through the mingled foliage of the wild vines and mimosa the movements of the white man's canoes, the boats with their varied freights floated away from reach to reach, until they closed upon the destined theatre of future merriment. We might dwell upon the happiness and gaiety of the scene that followed - the cool tent where the ladies reposed - the sward that bent beneath their 'many twinkling feet' - the dainty viands spread beneath the shade of the ancestral trees - the devoted gallantry of their attendant squires - the flash of the wine cup, and the melody of song, till we fell into despondence over the comparison which the cares of our every-day, money-seeking life present to those scenes of unrestrained mirth and pleasure; but it is a part of life which we anxiously cherish to avoid these painful contrasts. Sufficient to say the night came down upon the Yarra's stream before the long flotilla was again moored, deserted, and in silence under the shadow of the town houses. - Port Phillip Gazette , Melbourne, 1 March, 1839.

• Of course, George Arden, the editor, who probably wrote this 'stilted effusion' (as a fellow journalist, Edmund Finn called it) could be excused. He was only nineteen at the time. Arden was found dead in Ballarat at the age of thirty-four, probably as a consequence of his widely-known intemperance. ( Readers may wish to compare his prose with the description of a picnic at Pyrmont, 21 December, 1806 ). The Yarra had been explored to a distance of 170km earlier in 1839, but the settlers felt no need to examine the wild country at its source until the gold rushes of the 1850s.

' ... immense gratification to the darkies...'

A fact not generally known to the present generation of Victorians is that the first foot-racing in the colonies was performed by the aborigines, who also effected the first ascent of a greased pole here. In January, 1839, there arrived from Sydney what was known as the 'Black' Protectorate, a Board of five gentlemen charged with the onerous duty of watching over the native race and providing, within certain limitations, for their temporal comfort and safety from European aggression. In the months of March, these delegates, wishing to ingratiate themselves with the tribes then hanging about the township, considered there was no more effectual way to produce a favourable impression on a blackfellow than through the oesophagus, and so invited some 400 or 500 dusky guests to a big feed of tucker on the afternoon of the 18th March. The gastronomic exhibition was held over the Yarra near the site of Government House, and the blacks cheerfully responded. Prior to the banquet, foot-racing was organised, and half a dozen races were run for knives, tomahawks and looking-glasses; but the distribution of prizes was not confined to the winners, for the distribution was general. A ti-tree skinned and shaped into a smooth pole was well-greased, and a cast-off bell-topper was hoisted aloft. The novelty of trying to climb this, so unlike the ascent of unbarked trees, gave immense gratification to the darkies, and one strapping young fellow in the third attempt succeeded in carrying away the coveted trophy. - Report on Melbourne's first athletics, 18 March, 1839 (Edmund Finn, Chronicles of Early Melbourne , 1888.)

'... the land of our adoption ...'

All eyes were turned with intense anxiety to the land of our adoption as we approached the shore. It appeared beautifully clothed with wood, lofty hills in the distance, and the intervening country presented a most picturesque succession of wooded elevations. - Henry Watson, settler, Holdfast Bay, South Australia, 21 March, 1839.

Behind the brave pioneers (1) come the wowsers

... the use of ardent spirits for any other than medicinal purposes as altogether unnecessary, and injurious in many respects; and it would be highly beneficial in every society were it discontinued. - Resolution at meeting of the Port Phillip Temperance Society, Melbourne, 26 March, 1839.

• The Port Phillip Temperance Society was formed the previous October when it was learned 2000 gallons of rum and 1500 gallons of brandy and gin had recently been imported for the use of only 3000 residents.

Georgiana says she doesn't, well, you know ...

Mrs Georgiana Collins begs most respectfully to return her sincere thanks publicly to the gentlemen of Perth for the liberal manner in which they have voluntarily contributed to pay the Fine levied on her by the magistrates for whipping OLD GRAHAM, late Captain of the Royal African Corps and now a Practitioner in the Civil Courts of this Colony. - Notice, Perth Gazette , 6 April, 1839.

• William Graham had been putting it around that the luscious Georgiana had been partaking of fleshly pleasures with certain gentlemen in the bushes. She gave him a whipping in St Georges Terrace.

Behind the brave pioneers (2) are estate agents

Lady Franklin has described this province as a 'Paradise', General Bourke has declared it to be 'the Region of Fertility', Surveyor-General Mitchell 'a country prepared by the bountiful creator for the replenishing of the earth'. - Real estate agent's advertisement, Melbourne, 20 April, 1839.

• The town's hottest property agents, Williams, dragged out the big guns to help sell three allotments in West Collins Street. It must have worked because Williams (the company) survives today.

1839: William Wakefield, New Zealand Company's agent (brother of E.G.), arrives to buy land and prepare for arrival of settlers.

Fourteen-day erection amazes Miss Jones

Mr Thos Sutherland, builder, married Miss Jones; that fourteen days before the auspicious event he had neither house nor home, and in that time had erected a substantial building thoroughly complete inside and out, and ready furnished to present to the object of his affections. - Port Phillip Gazette , Melbourne, 11 May, 1839.

Coonabarabran wife-stealers punished

I found the superintendent (of Coonabarabran Station) living with an aboriginal black woman. I immediately warned him of the consequences, took the woman and gave her to the black to whom she belonged. On my return, I found from the black to whom the woman belonged that Roger Heening (the superintendent) and a ticket-of-leave man in the name of Hugh Griffiths had come after the black with a pistol and taken the woman from him. - Letter from Crown Lands Commissioner Graham Hunter, Coonabarabran (NSW) to Colonial Secretary' office, Sydney, 2 September, 1839.

• Heenan lost his depasturing licence and Griffiths reverted to the status of a convict. The authorities, anxious to maintain the uneasy peace, could not tolerate wife-stealing.

Five thousand New Chum crow-eaters in just two years!

Although two years have not elapsed since the first stone of the seat of Colonial Government was laid, it contains, at the commencement of this year, 620 houses and 5000 inhabitants. - Royal South Australian Almanack , Adelaide, 1839.

Polite folk in Melbourne welcome Sydney swell

The folk here have been exceedingly polite - I found myself invited to parties and made an Honorary member of the (Melbourne) club before I had time to get off my horse. - Overlander Henry Gisborne, Melbourne, 12 September, 1839.

• Gisborne, a squatter from NSW, described his arrival in society-starved Melbourne in a letter to his family in England.

Meteor shower from 'dark vault of heaven' ...

Brilliant meteors fell on the evening of the 20th, a long train of light visible for ten seconds, while others of less brilliance fell from the same place within the hour. Again on the 23rd the dark vault of heaven was illumined, and again on the 28th. - Naval officer's journal, Port Darwin, September, 1839.

• Officers on HMS Beagle found Port Darwin on 9 September and named it after Charles Darwin, who had been their shipmate on the Beagle's earlier world trip.

The wreck which the forest trees still present - the effect produced on animals and animal nature in general, bear silent and solemn testimony to the desolation and terror accompanying this destructive visitation. - Capt John McArthur, Royal Marines, Victoria, northern Australia, 25 November, 1839.

• The infant settlement, near the present site of Darwin, was wrecked by a hurricane which took several lives.

Melbourne slings off at Adelaide 'patronage'

(Melbourne is) entirely destitute of half-swells, loungers etc so prevalent in Adelaide nor is there any nonsensical party spirit with cavilling for office by a few individuals sent out under the patronage of titled men, and whose salaries with neither find them in shoes to tramp their barren wastes, nor turn their pretty bright button threadbare coats into new ones. - Port Phillip Patriot , Melbourne, 29 December, 1839.

• This is the voice of the swaggering, illegally-settled town of Melbourne comparing itself with the official settlement of Adelaide and probably laying the foundations for more than 160 years of rivalry.

6. 1840-1849

'Oh, George, I've killed Lady Mary, I've killed your mother!' (Governor Charles Fitzroy, Sydney, 7 December, 1847)

IN 1840-41, Australia's first great economic depression was having woeful effects on the squatters of NSW. Henry O'Brien, a Yass sheep man, attributed it to 'the want of a market for surplus stock, the high rate of wages and the low price of wool in English and colonial markets'. He pioneered the boiling down of unwanted sheep for tallow, which was exported to English candle and soap manufacturers. Others saw the chance to sell their stock for meat in the youthful settlement in Adelaide. So began a great sheep walk from southern NSW, west across the Murrumbidgee and Darling rivers and southwest to the hungry colony. Mobs of up to 6000 sheep, and sometimes cattle, toiled across the dry plains, herded by as many as twenty-five heavily-armed ticket-of-leave men. Nothing was permitted to impede their progress, least of all the aborigines, and this led to the bloody demise of the tribes of Lake Victoria in the far southwest corner of the colony. The troubles began on the Rufus River, a minor tributary of the Murray, in August, 1841. A force of aborigines, estimated to number about 300, attacked an overlanding team, killing two shepherds and dispersing 5000 sheep. In mid-May, a retaliatory party was engaged by 200 tribesmen and was forced to retreat after killing eight aborigines. In Adelaide, a force of seventy police and volunteers was raised. They confronted the aborigines on 27 August and killed, officially, thirty. The true figure was nearer 200. This attack, following the Faithfull brothers' engagement at Wangaratta and the squatters' massacre at Fighting Hills, broke the spirit of the southeastern Australian tribes.

Elsewhere in Australia, things were not much better. Settlers continued to arrive in Adelaide and Melbourne to find, to their dismay, that employment prospects were bleak. The rural depression cut deeply. In Melbourne, stray pigs, that curse of early Sydney, were a cause of alarm. Parents were afraid to let their child play in the streets lest they be devoured by some grunting monster. Paul Edmund Strzelecki had ascended Australia's highest peak, Mt Kosciuszko, in 1840, but other explorers were finding the going tough. Edmund Kennedy was fatally speared on Cape York and Ludwig Leichhardt was swallowed by the Outback in 1848; Charles Sturt and Edward John Eyre had unpleasant experiences, but survived.

Mary Reibey, who was transported in 1792 at the age of fifteen for stealing a horse, was pleased to see the end of convict transportation to NSW in 1840. Britain was reluctant to cease the practice, but the majority of colonists demanded it; the only dissenters were wealthy landowners who enjoyed the fruits of slave labour. The last convict ship arrived in Sydney on 18 November, 1840, but Van Diemens Land continued to accept them until 1852. About 9600 were sent to Western Australia until transportation was abandoned in 1867. Precise records are not available, but it is thought that 150,000 convicts were sent to Australia. About 500 were lost in shipwrecks and several hundred died of other causes while at sea. Some convicts failed to reach their destinations for other reasons, such as the sixty-six ladies on the Lady Shore in 1797; the crew mutinied and took them to South America.

Duelling pistols jammed (was it plum or currant?)

A t 2 am, Mr Penny fought a duel with Taylor for some frivolous quarrel that took place in the afternoon. The first pistols had some damson (plum) stones put in them instead of bullets, but the powder got damp and they would not go off. A second pair was procured and they had nothing in them, or either it was a little currant jelly. - Settler Charles Davies, bound for South Australia, I January, 1840.

• There were many such occurrences on the migrant ships. In this case, the vessel was the Bracken Moor , which arrived in Adelaide on 8 February, 1840. Its passengers included the twenty-five year old Alexander Tolmer and his wife, Mary. He became South Australian Commissioner of Police (see March, 1852).

Lashings of mistaken charity

Many persons, from a mistaken notion of kindness, are in the habit of giving money to the prisoners of the Crown employed on the Government works, and the consequence is that almost every night in the week some of these infatuated beings get drunk and subject themselves to severe flogging. - Port Phillip Herald, 17 January, 1840.

• These prisoners of the Crown, employed on public works in Melbourne, were convicts brought across from Van Diemens Land.

Black v. white violence might be colonists' fault!

It seldom happens, when disturbances take place between colonists and the blacks, that the former have not been the original aggressors. It may be that the individual or individuals on whom the blacks have wreaked their vengeance have never themselves given cause of offence; but in these cases we are disposed to believe that the sufferers have been made to atone for the crimes of others; for it is well known that savages consider every white man responsible for the misconduct of his fellow, and when offended by any act of the colonists, usually take revenge on the first white man they meet. Viewing the matter in this light, we are not disposed to bestow such sweeping denunciations on the conduct of the blacks, nor to call for such condign punishment as is usually the case. - Editorial opinion, Port Phillip Herald , Melbourne, 21 January, 1840.

• The author of this significant article, echoing liberal government sentiments of the time (but not, perhaps, those of the squatters) was probably George Cavenagh, who had moved from Sydney to begin publishing the newspaper earlier that month. His leading article of 21 January was prompted by recent skirmishes between Europeans and aborigines armed with muskets. It was strongly suspected these muskets were supplied by the Protector of Aborigines, George Augustus Robinson, for the purposes of procuring (for himself) lyre birds (or 'native pheasants', as they were more popularly known in culinary circles). Cavenagh's editorial continued:

We cannot too strongly animadvert upon the impropriety on Mr Robinson's conduct in furnishing the savages with the means of committing these outrages. Surely Mr Robinson must have known from past experience what use they were likely to make of the muskets with which he so imprudently furnished them. While armed only with their clubs and spears, it is at any time easy to reduce the blacks to subjection, but the resistance shown to Mr Gisborne and his party in the late skirmish proves that were they possessed of the means they have the will to make a stand against the authorities, and to carry out their atrocities to the most daring length.

Gavel gabbler gazzumps gurgling (Yarra)

... the pure water of the river (Yarra) cannot be equalled anywhere; and of the salubrity of the air and the beauty of the situation, it would be plagiarism to speak. - Estate agent's spiel, Melbourne, February, 1840.

• The enthusiasm of the early estate agents knew no bounds! On seeing Geelong, one wrote: 'Underneath lies the Bay of Corio, in comparison with which the Bays of Dublin and Naples fall into insignificance ...'

Gipps puts in word on behalf of official terror

Captain Maconochie avows his opinion that the first object of all Convict Discipline should be the Reformation of the Criminal. This opinion, however agreeable it may be to the dictates of humanity, is not, I believe, the received one of Legislators, who rather require as the first object of Convict Discipline that it should be a terror to Evildoers. - Governor Sir George Gipps, Sydney, to Lord John Russell, Secretary for Colonies, London, 24 February, 1840.

• Alexander Maconochie was appointed Commandant at Norfolk Island in March, 1840, and applied his methods of modern penal practice to one of the most brutal penal stations. His methods worked but, alas, came in the twilight of convict transportation to Australia.

1840: Treaty of Waitangi signed and first New Zealand Company settlers arrive at Port Nicholson.

Melbourne's first a la 'orse-and-carte restaurant

Up country settlers leading their teams to Melbourne will find good accommodation on the premises. - Advertisement for Melbourne's first restaurant, opened by one Richard Graham at the corner of Flinders Lane and Elizabeth Street, March, 1840.

Brutish Governor says 'no' to convictesses' Xmas plums

In more than one sense is this place deserving of the title of the Valley of the Shadow of Death. - Letter to Colonial Times , Hobart, 10 March, 1840.

• The letter writer was complaining about conditions at the Cascades Female Factory, opened in 1826 to relieve over crowding at Hobart Town Gaol. By 1829, more than 200 women were crowded into space meant for 50 and the infant mortality rate was appalling. At the end of 1826, Governor George Arthur denied the prisoners' request for extra plums to make their Christmas pudding.

Kosciuszko ascended (first time by a white man, anyway)

Once on the crest of the range, the remainder of the ascent to its highest pinnacle was achieved with comparative ease. - Paul Edmund Strzelecki, Mt Kosciuszko (NSW), 12 March, 1840.

• Disregard the date on the summit plaque (15 February, 1840) as the date of Strzelecki's first official ascent of Kosciuszko. That was Strzelecki's careless error later. He climbed the formidable western face (Victorian side) of the mountains, and walked to the top of Mt Townsend, which he assumed to be the highest peak. Strzelecki realised his error and walked over to Mt Kosciuszko.

Phew! Pommy chappies get free showers (at last)

A day in the tropics with us young men began by rising about six o'clock and getting a bath in the deck tubs while the deck-washing was going on, the showers being a free use of the pump by one of the deck-hands. There were no special baths, with hot and cold water laid on ... - Alfred Joyce, Melbourne-bound , 1840.

• Joyce was a young immigrant who kept a thoughtful diary ( A Homestead History ). He came to Victoria on the vessel London with other free immigrants. The journey took four months.

Caroline rescues immigrant damsels in distress

Only few (young immigrant women) were properly protected, while Hundreds were wandering about Sydney without Friends or Protection ... I received many of them into the 'Home' who I found had slept out for Night in the Government Domain - seeking the sheltered recesses of the rocks, rather than encounter the danger of the Streets. - Caroline Chisholm on the plight of female immigrants, 1840.

• Mrs Chisholm was recalling the situation while giving evidence before a House of Lords Committee in London in 1847.

Stop me if you've heard this ...

For the encouragement of any at home that think of emigrating, I ought to add that I have not seen one single individual who came out with me on the Strathfieldsaye but most heartily wishes himself back at home. - Letter to England from Henry Parkes, ivory turner, Sydney, 1 May, 1840.

• Parkes, having to compete for employment with a large pool of slave labour, was dissatisfied with his lot. He became a Premier of NSW and a 'father' of Federation.

Food for thought

The last edition (1839) of the London Encyclopaedia, consisting of twenty-two volumes in boards; also an excellent stomach pump of Maw's (London) manufacture. - For sale advertisement, Port Phillip Herald , Melbourne, July, 1840.

• They were designed to be used simultaneously.

Pros and cons of genocide in the Port Phillip District

They (the aborigines ) had taken shelter in an open plain with a long clump of tea-tree, which the Whyte brothers' party, seven in number, surrounded, and shot them all but one. Fifty-one men were killed, and the bones of the men and sheep lay mingled together bleaching in the sun at Fighting Hills. - Squatter John G. Robertson, Wando Hill, Victoria, early 1840s.

• He was writing about an incident after the aborigines were supposed to have killed sheep. The equivalent number of aborigines was killed.

On 23 March, 1840, one of the squatting Whyte brothers, John, stopped at Niel Black's station, Glenormiston, near Terang, on his way to report the Fighting Hills massacre to Superintendent Charles La Trobe in Melbourne. Black made the following entry in his diary:

In the evening, Mr White (Whyte) from Portland Bay came to my house on his way to inform the Governor of an affray he had with the natives in which it is said 41 of them has been killed. About a fortnight ago, a large party of them came to one of the of the stations and took from the shepherd 900 breeding ewes. He immediately acquainted his master of it, and they made preparations for following their flock next day as too much time had been lost to be able to come up with them in time that evening. The sheep were carried away about 3.o.c. that afternoon. Next morning, 9 men set out after the blacks, 5 on horse and 4 on foot. When they travelled about 8 miles they came upon the native encampment. When Whytes were seen approaching they set up a tremendous yell, and about 30 drew out in order of battle. They were on the opposite side of the creek, and the first man that crossed the creek was speared through the calf of the leg and pinned to the ground. His friends followed him and soon dispatched the blackfellow. He fell - after having 9 balls lodged in his body - making signs to his friends to fight. They stood and fought for an hour but did not hurt or injure any other person, but one of the Whytes has his cheek cut by a ball fired at random by one of his own party. The Protector of Aborigines was within 6 miles at the time the affray took place, and his report (collected among the natives themselves) is that 41 has been killed, and Mr Whyte says that he is not aware of more than 25. The bodies were all removed and put out of sight by the natives - a thing they never fail to do. I think they will never occasion much trouble in that quarter again. The whole of the sheep was recovered except 45 which they had slaughtered and on which they were feasting themselves when first surprised by the Whytes, having first skinned and roasted them. There are several brothers of the Whytes, all young men, and they only went to Portland Bay in January last. They will never be troubled with blacks again. They may, however, be obliged to go to Sydney to stand their trial for murder, but it will be a mere formality. They must be acquitted.

• The Whytes were not charged. There was a widely-held belief in squatting circles that a pioneer was entitled to kill the natives in defence of his flocks, but John Whyte told Superintendent la Trobe that he was prepared to give 100 pounds a year to feed the aborigines, and other squatters had offered to do likewise.

A few days since I found a Grave into which 20 (aborigines) must have been thrown. A Settler taking up a new country is obliged to act towards them in this manner or abandon it. - Squatter Niel Black, Western District (Vic), to his partner T.S. Gladstone, Scotland, 5 August, 1840.

• A letter not intended for public consumption. If the guns and poisoned flour of the invaders would not wipe them out, then venereal diseases, largely introduced by shepherds, certainly would.

The aborigines of the Portland area were familiar with the habits of Europeans even before the advent of squatters (the Hentys in 1834). Port Phillip's first Protector of Aborigines, George Robinson, wrote in later years of a bloody incident in 1833:

Among the remarkable places on the coast is the 'Convincing Ground' (where) a severe conflict took place between the aborigines and the whalers (over the rights to a beached whale) on which occasion a large number of the former were slain (said to have been between 60 and 200).

In 2005, there were moves to protect the site from a housing development after its historic importance became known.

I never heard of a single outrage committed by any one of them (the aborigines) upon any settler, nor even on any of their servants unto the present hour. - Squatter Edward Dryden, Macedon, Victoria, early 1840s.

Quite a demonstration of freedom of speech!

The settlers here in the simplicity of their hearts imagine that because he is unjust, extortionate, unamiable, crafty in diplomacy, and Gothic in learning that therefore he ought to be recalled. His duties are those of a head gaoler, tax gatherer, general and political bully and for those his qualifications must be allowed to stand unrivalled. - Port Phillip Patriot , 13 August, 1840.

• Just six years after the first white settlers came ashore, the people of the Port Phillip District had begun to agitate for separation from NSW! The target of the John Pascoe Fawkner-owned Patriot was the Sydney-based Governor in whom the paper saw few redeeming features.

Pioneering: mixed opinions

Cheerless and hopeless indeed was the prospect before us. - Explorer Edward John Eyre, northeast of Spencer Gulf (SA), 2 September, 1840.

• And so Mt Hopeless got its name. Eyre gave up hope of penetrating the interior by that route, and decided to go westward.

The long and expensive journeys of Sir Thomas Mitchell in the years 1835 to 1836, though highly interesting, led to no discoveries which could be turned to profit, with the exception perhaps of the fertile land of Australia Felix, which would surely have been reached by the ordinary advance of our graziers even though he had never visited it. - Governor Sir George Gipps, Sydney, to Lord John Russell, Secretary for Colonies, London, 28 September, 1840.

It is the Settlers, and not the Government, who at present feed the aborigines and hence the very frequent and just complaints which are made upon the subject. - Port Phillip Patriot , Melbourne, 19 October, 1840.

• The aborigines, tired of being forced off their traditional hunting grounds, were fighting back. In April. 1842, the Geelong Advertiser published a list of 26 Western District squatters who, between them, had 3000 sheep stolen and several hutkeepers killed or wounded.

Everything about this country is done so much in the English style that I sometimes find it difficult to believe I am in a foreign country. - Aspiring squatter Charles Griffith's diary, Melbourne, 31 October, 1840.

• Griffith, a young Anglo-Irishman with social pretensions, had recently arrived in Melbourne.

Luncheon is as nicely served up as any country house in Ireland. - Aspiring squatter Charles Griffith's diary, Melbourne, 12 November, 1840.

• Soon, young Griffith would have to leave comforts of the young settlement for the less predictable wilds.

Cashed-up convict didn't necessarily pinch it!

The following case was brought before the Chief Justice, Sir James Dowling, in the NSW Supreme Court on 8 August, 1840. It gives an interesting insight into the relationships between assigned convicts and their masters ... particularly when the convict is much better educated than the master:

Michael Alfred White, a convict, was indicted for forging and uttering an order for 23 pounds on Edward McRoberts, of Kent Street, Sydney, purporting to be drawn by his master, Mr Christopher Doyle, of Port Macquarie, and with intent to defraud Mr William Stokes of that place, on the fifth of November, 1839.

It appeared that the prisoner was lent to Mr. Doyle, and finding him an active, intelligent and useful person, he placed him in the responsible situation of his agent at Port Macquarie, giving authority to dealers of that place to let him have what he required without any further order. As Mr Doyle was no penman, the prisoner was generally employed to carry on his correspondence, which, taking advantage of, and the good character which he unquestionably bore in the district, he forged the order in question. Mr Purefoy defended the prisoner, and produced proof that the prisoner's friends in England had been in the habit of sending him money. That in 1837 they sent him 100 pounds, which was placed in the Savings Bank for him by the Government, out of which he had been permitted to draw four 10 pounds. Therefore, 60 pounds, exclusive of interest, belonging to the prisoner, is still in the bank. Not guilty. - Australian , Sydney, 11 August 1840.

• Attorney-General John Plunkett, who was acting to end the assignation of Crown convicts to private employers, would have taken note.

Judge's plea doesn't save aborigine from jury's noose

On 4 November, 1840, the trial began in Sydney of an aborigine named Billy, or Neville's Billy, charged with spearing to death a white hutkeeper, John Dillon, on the Lachlan River, 250 miles west of Sydney. Attorney-General John Plunkett prosecuted:

The Attorney-General opened the case by stating there were no cases of a more painful description than those against the aborigines, who, from their ignorance of our language manner and customs, as well as our laws, could only take their trial at a disadvantage, as the state of the law prevented them from calling on others of their tribe to give evidence in their defence. It also frequently happened in cases of aggression by the aborigines, that the first offence was given by the whites, by carrying off the gins of these blacks and otherwise annoying them; but in the present instance he was extremely happy that no such excuse could be set up; on the contrary, it would be given in evidence that the deceased had been remarkably kind to the blacks and it particular to the prisoner, to whom he had given bread and milk for breakfast on the same morning, just before he speared him, and it would be shown that there was particular kindness shown to the prisoner by another of the white people, as he had got his name of Neville's Billy from some clothing being given to him by a white man. - Sydney Herald , 5 November, 1840.

Evidence was given by members of the Border Police. William Jackson said he asked Neville Billy: What for you tumble down Waddy Monday? (the black name given the deceased from his having a wooden leg.) Neville Billy said the crime was committed by other aborigines. Supreme Court Chief Justice, Sir James Dowling, in his address to the jury, said (the Herald reported) ... they were a jury of intelligent British subjects, called on to administer justice to a savage, who was ignorant of the language, laws, and customs of civilised life; and called on them to to mark the situation in which the prisoner and the judges were placed in such trials; by a fiction of law he was amenable to British law. He was accused of the murder of a British subject, a white man, one of a race of men who had seized upon his native land; he was, by fiction of law, a British subject, and as such was entitled to be tried by his peers, his equals; were the jury his equals? Did they know his language, his habits, his customs? He took his trial under many disadvantages, so much so, he was not entitled to conduct his own defence - he could not even instruct his counsel; he might have witnesses, but they, by a legal technicality, not being Christians, would not be admitted to give evidence, and therefore it was said that the prisoner took his trial under great disadvantages; it was in fact, a one-sided trial, and therefore, he called upon the jurors, as Britons and Christians, to lay aside all prejudices .... Sydney Herald , 9 November, 1840.

The jury retired for half an hour and returned a verdict of guilty. Sir James Dowling was therefore obliged to sentence Neville's Billy to death by hanging.

Who is this white woman with the aborigines?

Started from our station to discover a road to the coast with the view of running along the Long Beach to Shoal Inlet, thence to Corner Inlet, - same evening, came upon the camp of twenty-five black natives, chiefly women, who all ran away on our near approach, leaving everything they had behind them, excepting some of their spears. We then searched their belongings, where we found European articles as underneath described, viz: Several check shirts, cord and moleskin trousers, all besmeared with human blood; one German frock, two peajackets, new brown Macintosh coat, also stained with blood; several pieces of women's wearing apparel, namely, prints and merinos; a large lock of brown hair, evidently that of a European woman, one child's white frock with brown velvet band, five hand towels, one of which was marked R. Jamieson No 12, one blue silk purse, silver tassels and slides, containing seven shillings and sixpence British money, one women's thimble, two large parcels of silk sewing thread, various colour, 10 new English blankets perfectly clean, shoemakers' awls, bees' wax, blacksmith's pincers and cold chisel, one bridle bit which had been recently used, as the grass was quite fresh on it; the tube of a thermometer, broken looking glass, bottles of all description, two of which had castor oil in them, one sealskin cap, one musket and some shot, one broad tomahawk, some London, Glasgow and Aberdeen newspapers, printed in 1837 and 1838. One pewter two gallon measure, one ditto hand basin, one large tin camp kettle, one Bible printed in Edinburgh June 1838, one set of National Loan Fund regulations respecting the policies of life assurance, and bank forms of medical man's certificate for effecting same. - Pioneer Angus McMillan's diary, Gippsland, 15 November, 1840.

• McMillan concluded his dry inventory of the items, obviously from a shipwreck then, SENSATION ...

Enclosed in three kangaroo skin bags, we found the dead body of a male child about two years old, which Dr Arbuckle carefully examined professionally, and discovered beyond doubt its being of European parents; parts of the skin were perfectly white, not being in the least discoloured. We observed the men with shipped spears driving before them the women, one of whom we noticed constantly looking behind her at us, a circumstance which did not strike us much at the time, but on examining the marks and figures about the largest of the native huts we were immediately impressed with the belief that the unfortunate female is is a European - a captive of these ruthless savages ... we have no doubt whatever but a dreadful massacre of Europeans, men, women and children, has been perpetrated by the aborigines in the immediate vicinity of the spot ... Pioneer Angus McMillan's diary, Gippsland, 15 November, 1840.

• McMillan's account was published in the Sydney Herald on 28 December, but his statement about the dead child and the women was dismissed by the Port Phillip Patriot as 'mere creation of the imagination'. But the story persisted and on 20 October, 1846, a search party was mounted to find her (see October, 1846) .

Lost in trackless bush with only the bellbird's 'ting, ting'!

On 13 December, 1840, William Westgarth, 24-year-old son of a well-to-do Durham landed family, arrived in Melbourne and, that evening, promptly got lost in the wild bush somewhere near (now) inner suburban Abbotsford ...

... I had engaged to accompany a young friend that evening to spend the next day, Sunday, at his 'country seat' on Richmond Flat, where he had constructed, mostly with his own hands, a sort of hut or wigwam, under an unchallenged squattage. Being engaged in a store for long hours on a Saturday night, it was past eleven ere we started. The rain had begun to pour, and the night was pitch dark. We got into Collins Street, but had much difficulty keeping its lines where there were not post-and-rail fences round the vacant allotments. Only three years had elapsed since Melbourne had been named and officially laid out, and, excepting the very centre, there were still wide intervals between the houses on either side even of Collins Street. After floundering helplessly about in the foundation-cutting of a new house, which was already full of water, but happily only a few inches deep, we at length emerged upon the open of the present Fitzroy Gardens, where for a little time we could keep to the bush track only by trying the ground with our feet or our fingers. But in spite of all care, we soon lost the road, and wandered around in the pouring rain for the rest of the night. We were young and strong, and as the rain did not chill us, we were in but little discomfort. A beauteous sunny morning broke upon us, with a delicious fragrance from the refreshed ground. We found ourselves near the Yarra, between the present Hawthorn and Studley Park. Solitude and quiet reigned about us, except the enchanting 'ting, ting' of the bell bird. We stripped ourselves, wrung our drenched clothes, and spread them to dry in the sun, and then plunged into the dark, deep, still Yarra for our morning bath, afterwards duly reaching my friend's country seat.

• Westgarth was an enlightened young man with radical political views, but a deep love of Empire. He was a useful and selfless pioneer. In 1857, family business called him back to London permanently, but he retained a vigorous interest in Victoria and visited the colony again for the Exhibition in 1888, a year before his death in South Kensington. (Recollections of Early Melbourne and Victoria, London, 1889).

Port Phillip, place for gentlemen (or women) to make a quid

Young men of good families and connections in England, officers of the Army and Navy, graduates and Oxford and Cambridge, are ... in no small number among them - Governor Sir George Gipps, Sydney, to Lord John Russell, Secretary for Colonies, London, 19 December, 1840.

• Many of the young men overlanding from NSW to the Port Phillip District were, in fact, Scots. Most expected to make their fortunes in Australia Felix and return to spend the proceeds at Home.

English, Grammar, History, Geography, Writing, Arithmetic etch ... 4 guineas

Music ... 2 guineas

French ... 2 guineas

Dancing ... 1 guinea

Use of the globes ... 1 guinea

Board, including washing ... 10 guineas

Each boarder to bring a silver teaspoon and fork and six towels. - Advertisement for Miss Blackmore's soon-to-open seminary for young ladies, Melbourne, 24 December, 1840.

• Miss Blackmore's academy opened for business the following 5 January. The competition for the hearts and minds of Melbourne's young scholars was intense just five years after the first white settlers set foot on the riverbank. By 1850, there were 99 private schools educating 1300 boys and 1367 girls, but next year the number of schools had fallen sharply to 49. In 1852, only 17 remained. The pioneer journalist, Edmund Finn ( Garryowen) , attributed this to the lure of the goldfields for schoolteachers.

Don't worry, mum, it sounds like so much bull ant!

I have not seen any snakes; but ants are numerous both in town and country, covering the roads in millions. One kind, the horse ant, is of a tile colour, an inch long and ferocious and bloodthirsty. I am told also of spiders with bodies like a walnut, and six or eight legs three inches long, centipedes large than men's fingers etc etc. - Reassuring letter to his mother in England from settler William Westgarth, Melbourne, 25 December, 1840.

Economic rationalism knows no bounds

As well might it be attempted to confine the Arabs of the Desert within a circle, traced upon the sands, as to confine the Graziers or Woolgrowers of New South Wales within any bounds that can possibly be assigned to them ... - Governor Sir George Gipps, Sydney, to Lord John Russell, Secretary for the Colonies, London, 19 December, 1840.

• The NSW Government attempted to curb unlawful occupation of Crown Lands from 1824, but Gipps realised the cause was hopeless, particularly after the mass migration from NSW to Port Phillip in the late-1830s.

Eyre crosses near the Bight: Tragedy and triumph

... myself, my native boys, and overseer (who has chosen to accompany me) proceed hence overland to King George's Sound, as soon as our horses are a little recruited by the abundant supply of forage we received by the Hero. - Explorer Edward John Eyre, Fowler's Bay, SA, 30 January, 1841.

• Eyre had attempted unsuccessfully to penetrate the arid country north but, frustrated, decided to strike out west for King George Sound. His overseer, John Baxter was murdered on 29 April by two of their aboriginal servants and Eyre struggled on with the remaining aborigine, Wylie, to Thistle Bay, near Esperance, where they found a whaling ship.

No mineral prospect in Victoria worth looking for!

Indications of simple minerals and ores appear, indicative of such being buried beneath, hardly however, worth the trouble of seeking for. - Explorer Paul Edmund Strzelecki, Report to the British House of Commons, London, 1841.

• Strzelecki, the first European to climb Mt Kosciuszko in 1840, later explored parts of Gippsland. A decade or so after his gloomy assessment of the area's mineral prospects, Australia - principally Victoria - was producing one third of the world's gold.

Good, the bad, and the ugly

... a very splendid-looking young man about six feet four and when mounted on his heavy, long-tailed horse, armed and accoutred in bush fashion reminded me of one of the knights errant of the days of chivalry ... - Aspiring squatter Charles Griffith's diary, Melbourne, 1 February, 1841.

• Griffith met Samuel Pratt Winter, a successful squatter and one of the dandies of Port Philip. Winter, an Anglo-Irishman, had migrated to Van Diemens Land before overstraiting to Port Phillip with the earliest pioneers. He established the magnificent Murndal station, near Coleraine, in the Western District.

Swine of all descriptions, shapes and sizes have been permitted to stray around the streets of Melbourne, until they have become a public nuisance. Not long since a child was dreadfully mangled by a ferocious sow in Little Flinders St, and more recently a child has had its eat torn by a pig at Newtown ... - Port Phillip Patriot, 18 February, 1841.

There were two classes of shearers, the Derwenters, from Van Diemens Land, and the Sydneys. The former were the better shearers, but the latter the faster. - Alfred Joyce, squatter, near Maryborough (Vic), 1841.

The dust is the one main source of annoyance in Sydney. Unless after a very heavy rain, it is always dusty; and sometimes, when the wind is in one particular point, the whirlwinds of thick, fine powder that fill every street and house are positive miseries. These dust-winds are locally named 'brick-fielders', from the direction in which they come: and sooner is the approach of one perceived than the streets are instantly deserted, windows and doors closely shut, and everyone who can remains within till the plague has passed over, when you ring for a servant with a duster and collect enough fine earth for a small garden off your chairs and tables. - L. A. Meredith, Notes and Sketches of NSW, 1839-1844.

Another person, after getting home one rainy night, put his umbrella in bed, and leaned up in the corner himself. - Port Phillip Herald , Melbourne, 16 March, 1841.

1841: Second shipload of immigrants, sent by Plymouth Company, found settlement at Taranaki, New Zealand.

Economic depression strikes Australian colonies

The principal cause of the great depression in the money market is generally supposed to be on account of the Governor having been too lavish in his expenditure and drawn bills on the Commissioners beyond his limits . - William Bickford, chemist, Adelaide, 10 April, 1841.

• Gawler was recalled to England, largely because of his free spending. But he also presided over rapid development. The depression was widespread throughout the Australian colonies.

Judge turns out to be a complete ass

We yesterday morning had the pleasure of witnessing the opening of the Supreme Court, which has long been talked of, and so much required, and from which so many and important benefits are anticipated. Having repeatedly adverted to the necessity of a Resident Judge in our province, and having also in a late number entered upon an enumeration of the most prominent advantages resulting from a local Supreme Court, we shall content ourselves at present with furnishing our readers with the report of yesterday's proceedings which will be found in another column, and the Introduction Address of His Honour, Judge Willis. - Port Phillip Herald , Melbourne, 13 April, 1841.

• John Walpole Willis, sadly, was not a success. He was soon in conflict with lawyers, the public, the press and wealthy and influential interests. Once, he barred a lawyer from his court for having a moustache and jailed a prominent landholder, J. B. Were, for prevarication. After a petition to the NSW Governor, Sir George Gipps, he was removed from office in 1843.

... the wildest and most inhospitable wastes...'

At the dead hour of night, in the wildest and most inhospitable wastes of Australia, with the fierce wind raging in unison with the scene of violence before me, I was left, with a single native I could not rely upon, and who, for aught I knew, might be in league with the other two, who, perhaps were even now, lurking about with a view to taking my life as they had done that of the overseer. - Explorer Edward John Eyre, between Eucla and Esperance, WA, 29 April, 1841.

• Eyre's desperate journey with Wylie (he could trust him, in fact!) after these events demonstrated his incredible fortitude. After they were replenished by the French whaler, Mississippi, near Esperance, they continued overland to Albany. Coincidentally, his next appointment was resident magistrate and protector of Aborigines at Moorundie, on the Murray, where he was responsible for the remnants of tribes involved in the Rufus River Massacre (see 27 August, 1841).

Gas light! 'Dim days of oil and tallows are gone'

We think it but right to congratulate the inhabitants of Sydney, generally, upon the actual commencement of operations of the Gas Company. The public are now enabled to have better, cheaper and more cleanly light than has been possible before. The dim days of oil and tallow are gone by, as far as the lighting of shop and warehouses is concerned. - Australian , Sydney, 27 May, 1841.

• The Australian Gas Light Company, in fact, introduced gas lighting into the Southern Hemisphere!

The blighter's trying to save on shoes

She must be tall, and well-proportioned in every respect; but above all must have small feet and well-turned, an expressive black or languishing blue eye, good teeth, and pouting lips. - Matrimonial advertisement, Port Phillip Gazette , Melbourne, July, 1841.

• And that's not all! This ambitious young chap expected her to arrive with a dowry of 3000 pounds.

This chap might have been too clever by half ...

In July, 1841, a curious compromise of a capital felony happened. Thomas Regan was committed to take his trial on a charge of rape, and whilst in gaol, he proposed to escape one noose by putting his neck in another; or, in plain words, if let off, to marry the prosecutrix, an arrangement to which she readily consented. The authorities were appealed to, and as there were strong doubts about a conviction, they were not indisposed to ratify the treaty, on due performance of the marriage contract. But a laughable and unexpected impediment intervened, through the Rev, Father Geoghegan refusing to tie the nuptial knot until the prisoner was released from custody, as he could not be validly married under duress. To this, the law adviser demurred, as Regan, on being emancipated, might decamp minus his promised bride. Further negotiations ended in a bargain, the prisoner being allowed out in the street under a guard, with instructions to pot him as dead as a ducat if he tried the trick known as leg-bail. Here, in the midst of a merry crowd who flocked to see the fun - prompted by the same curiosity that gathers modern young and old ladies to St Peter's or St Patrick's where more fashionable marriages are held - and with military honours, the fellow's new fetters were securely riveted by the ecclesiastic blacksmith, and the happy pair were soldered together as 'bone of one bone and flesh of one flesh'. A Melbourne newspaper describes the bridegroom as a 'tolerably good-looking chap' and the 'fair' one as 'a giantess of six feet in height, one-eyed, with a large area of chin on which flourished a stiff, hard beard'. - Edmund Finn (Garryowen), Chronicles of Early Melbourne , 1888.

Too much of the good life ... they didn't last long

Many of the settlers are retired military or naval officers, who, from their knowledge of the world, introduced that suavity of manners which renders society pleasant and agreeable, great decorum is observed in the parties that are occasionally given. The sociable picnic is not overlooked, balls and supper are in vogue, and remind the stranger that conviviality without the reserve met in the sister colony renders the rugged path of life less irksome. The settler ought, however, to bear in mind that business, not pleasure, induced him to move to a new country for the benefit of his family. - Surveyor Robert Hoddle, Port Phillip Patriot, Melbourne, 31 July, 1841.

• Hoddle, the original surveyor of Melbourne's streets in 1837, had taken up residence there. He felt compelled to warn the 'gentlemen' settlers of the dangers of complacency on the edge of a wilderness. Within two years, many had succumbed to the rural recession of the 1840s and disappeared forever from the Melbourne scene.

Slaughter of aborigines at Rufus River

Robinson's men, on the east side of the Rufus, started firing, and Shaw's party followed suit. The natives immediately broke up, the greater part running into the scrub, and about fifty into the water for concealment among the reeds. The latter were surrounded and a fusillade maintained for about half an hour ... - South Australian Protector of Aborigines, Dr Matthew Moorhouse, Rufus River, NSW, 27 August, 1841.

• The Rufus River, close to the corner of NSW, Victoria and South Australia, was where the South Australians, disregarding their high-falutin' principles about their treatment of the noble savage, led a slaughter of 200 aborigines. They were retaliating against the aboriginal massacre of 25 people aboard the foundered brig, Maria, the previous year, and continuing attacks on the herds of Adelaide-bound overlanders. The tribes were finally broken.

There is one thing in the conduct of the men who have charge over the cattle or sheep, to which all mischief is to be imputed, and that is the sexual intercourse which they have with the native females on their road to Adelaide, which is carried on, whenever an opportunity occurs. - Lutheran pastor C. G. Teichelmann, Adelaide, 18 September, 1841.

• Teichelmann suggested that the aboriginal men were promised food and clothing in return for their women's sexual favours, and when these provisions were not forthcoming, attempted to take them forcefully.

Crusader saves British virgins from dens of vice

I am endeavouring to establish a Home for Female Immigrants and have little doubt but funds will soon be raised for me to accomplish this; and as my first my first object is to facilitate their obtaining employment in the country, I feel obliged if you will favour my intention (should you approve of the same) by giving me the information I require regarding your district and any suggestions you may think useful will be considered a favour - Circular letter from social reformer Caroline Chisholm, Sydney, 21 October, 1841.

• This circular was sent to magistrates, clergymen and so on in the country districts beyond Sydney. Mrs Chisholm, who had arrived in Sydney three years earlier, had taken it upon herself to look after the welfare of hundreds of poverty-stricken free single immigrant women. Many of these had been brought to Australia under the assisted Bounty Scheme, but arrived when the colony was gripped by a severe depression. They were unemployable, and many had to be rescued by Mrs Chisholm from Sydney's dozens of brothels.

Immigrant's dream ... escape from ship's life

A hearty breakfast at 9 o'clock ... 1s.

A substantial dinner at 2 'clock ... 1s.

A comfortable tea or supper at 7 o'clock ... 1s.

A good bed in a cleanly room ... 1s.

A good tea, bed and breakfast ... 2.0s.

Board and lodging, 12s a week, payable in advance. - Scale of charges at Henry Baker's Imperial Inn, West Collins Street, Melbourne, 1841.

• Baker appealed to the newly-arrived immigrant, escaping the 'shipboard and its riot'. Several shiploads of 'Bounty' immigrants, brought out under government assistance, arrived in Port Phillip Bay that year.

Governor concedes to bold buccaneers

Favoured as you are with a district of exceeding beauty and fertility, I cannot doubt that the onward course of your prosperity will be steady as the first development of it has been striking; and I shall, indeed, gentlemen, bear away with me a grateful recollection of Australia Felix, if I may permit myself to hope that my visit has in any way tended to advance your interests, or to confirm and strengthen those feelings and unanimity and mutual confidence which are no less necessary for the happiness of individuals than for the prosperity of States. - Governor Sir George Gipps, Melbourne, 25 October, 1841.

• Governor Gipps, visiting Melbourne on the steamer, Sea Horse , from his base in Sydney, replied to a loyal address by the respectable men of Melbourne who, six years before, had illegally squatted the Port Phillip District and virtually challenged the British Government to evict them. Gipps had railed against the freewheeling activities of such squatters but, like his wise predecessor, Sir Richard Bourke, recognised their fait accompli.

But he finds the Melbourne Press a little too free

I do not see that they have much cause of complaint, for if there be a place where newspapers do exactly what they like, that place is Melbourne. - Governor Sir George Gipps, Melbourne, 28 October, 1841.

• Gipps was not amused by everything he saw in the settlement, particularly its free-wheeling Press.

As for the swaggering young squatters ...

There exists in Melbourne a set of men who have sprung from dirt to opulence, and whose insolent and overbearing demeanour show they have brought with them the stain of the soil from which they sprang. - Port Phillip Patriot , Melbourne, 29 October, 1841.

• The author, supposedly the newspaper's editor, William Kerr, was railing against the behaviour of Melbourne's so-called aristocracy, young squatters who happened to be members of the Melbourne Club.

Wentworth becomes another grumpy old man

Mr Wentworth is one of those persons who was an influential man. His day is gone by. His opinion is worth nothing. He stands alone and is altogether disregarded. Certainly he first taught the natives of this colony liberty, but he has betrayed them since and they have withdrawn their confidence from him. - Australian , Sydney, 18 January, 1842.

• Wentworth, suffice to say, no longer had a controlling interest in the Australian , the newspaper he co-founded with Robert Wardell in 1824. He had lost his pro-emancipist zeal and had become more interested in promoting the interests of the monied pastoral class.

Convict's son says 'no' to return to slave labour

They were those who had grown rich by it, and who desired it again to add still more to their heaps of ill-earned wealth. - Robert Nichols, Sydney, 26 January, 1842.

• Nichols, son of a convict, was replying at the First Fleet anniversary dinner to a suggestion by Captain Maurice O'Connell, grandson of Governor Bligh, that transportation to Australia should be reintroduced.

Caroline Chisholm goes bush

For a single man, 20 pounds a year with weekly rations:- Flour, 9lbs; meat, 10lbs; tea, 2oz; sugar, one-and-a-half lbs. For a single woman, 9 pounds to 16 pounds with similar rations. For a married man, his wife and one child, it is 25 pounds and weekly rations:- Flour, 20lbs, meat, 18lbs, tea, 4oz and sugar, 3lbs. - Caroline Chisholm's immigrant rates of employment, Sydney, 1842.

• By the end of 1841, her first year of operations, Caroline Chisholm had supplied several loads of young females to the country - she took them out by 'backloading' wool drays. She then began to supply young men and small families ... insisting that their terms and conditions were written down in triplicate.

I wish you could use your interest to try and borrow a horse and covered cart for me. I require the cart to sleep in at night and carry the little children in by day; I have a saddle-horse for my own use. I have now provided for seventy families; the weather is, however, very changeable, and I require a covered cart to allow me to continue my exertions. - Letter from social reformer Caroline Chisholm to an influential friend, Sydney, 1842.

1842; Lord Shaftesbury's Coal Mines Act ends the employment underground of women and of children under 13.

Close your eyes and think of England, dear

Married by special licence at the residence of Stephen Coombs Esq, of Collins Street, by the Reverend Mr Bell, Presbyterian Minister, Captain Miller, late of Her Majesty's 40th Regiment, aged sixty-five, to Miss McQueen, aged seventeen. After the ceremony, the happy couple, with their friends, partook of a splendid repast, and retired late in the evening, highly delighted. - Social note, Melbourne, 20 August, 1842.

Good decision (in retrospect)

I fully expected I should shortly sink, as others had, and again abandoned all hope, when all at once I felt someone pulling me by the collar of my coat, with a strong hand. It was that of the convict, William Gardner, whose irons I had placed on him as a punishment, and which I had directed to be removed at daybreak . - Surgeon Henry Kelsall of the convict ship, Waterloo , foundered near Cape Town, 27 August, 1842.

Convicts have become an embarrassment

Lovely land, and still more lovely water. What may you now not be ... what must you not inscrutably become when the felon race, the only blot on your fair face, shall be merged in the active industrious, moral peasantry! - Tasmanian Journal , Port Arthur (Tas), 1842.

No horse, no ox, no locomotive transverses its course; the waggons are propelled by convicts, three men generally allotted to do the work of each waggon, which is capable of conveying half a ton of goods at each transit. Upon emergency, the same gang have made their three journeys and back, thirty miles a day, conveying thus per man half a ton each day. - Tasmanian Journal , Port Arthur, (Tas), 1842.

• The Port Arthur convict-propelled tramway was the brainchild of Commandant Charles O'Hara Booth, who took control of the establishment of 600 souls in 1833. The seed of Booth's idea was sown two years earlier when he went to observe the Liverpool and Manchester Railway. That was powered by steam, of course. But Booth had a better idea for Port Arthur. He would use convict power . The Port Arthur settlement was located on the south side of an isthmus. When coal was found near Eaglehawk Neck, on the other side, a tramway became paramount. A visitor described the journey towards Port Arthur: The road being not exactly level, but containing many inclines and ascents, forms a very amusing transit to the stranger; for, as you rise up the incline, the prisoners puff and blow, pushing on the carriage, but when descending, up they jump alongside of you, and away you go, dashing, crashing, tearing on. The tramway was still operating in the 1850s, but was abandoned with the rest of the settlement, in 1877.

1843: Land dispute with Maori chief Te Rauparaha, 17 June, costs 21 settlers' lives at Warau, New Zealand.

Daggy doings

The wool sent home on your account last year was not only sent home in the most shameful state, but also stones were put into the bales to increase the weights. In one bale there was a stone weighing 74 pounds. After this it will be impossible to ship any wools with the same marks as yours have hitherto borne. - Letter from agent Charles Swanston, London, to squatter William Forlonge, Western District (Vic), 1 July, 1843.

• Forlonge, or someone in his employ, had committed a most despicable act in an industry which acted very much on trust.

A letter of love to Mary Walsh

Mary Walsh, 30, mother of three, was transported from Clonmel, Tipperary, in 1842 for stealing a piece of cashmere. She arrived in Hobart aboard the Hope on 17 August, accompanied by her youngest, Mary, aged nearly two. Her distraught husband, James, wrote to her (through a paid scribe) ...

Clonmel, July 16th, 43

My dear Wife, I have received your kind and welcome letter of the 20th of March which is the greatest happiness I have enjoyed ever since the day I have parted, my dearest Mary. It gives consolation to my troubled mind to know that you are comfortably situated in your exile and that you have the great pleasure of seeing your sweet child at times. It would be the only wish of my heart, dear Mary, to go to you even on my knees, but I have not the means at present ... as there is no Emigration nor any provision made by Government for that country renders my state unable to go out to my lovely and dearest Mary ... When you left Dublin I sent Maurice (their second son) to the County Cork to my sister, Mary, and I have not seen him those twelve months past, but I intend on tomorrow the 17th July to go to see him, he is in good health as I receive letters from him. I have a new suit of clothes for him. Jonny Hays (their eldest) is in good health, along with the Prendergasts (near your Uncle Jack) in Service. I see him oftener than Maurice, for I do not leave Jonny Hays out of my memory at all, but give him every little thing that he wants. I am employed ever since you left home at Thomas Kennedy at Pass and Thomas Rourks. My dear Mary there is not a moment but that I am thinking of you day and night and it will also be so 'til it pleases God to restore you once more to my arms for you are my only thought by day and my dreams at night ... if I lived for 100 years you would be as fresh in my heart, as you were the day you left me. I expect a letter from you at every opportunity as it is the only pleasure I can enjoy, since my loving wife is so far away from me, it is my prayer morning and night to bring you safe to my bosom. I am glad to hear that my sweet little Mary is so well ... Think of your broken-hearted husband and children as long as you live. I am every well in health, as also are your children, all your friends are well ... I will keep your letter next to my heart until I receive another from you, my darling wife. My dear Mary when I used to go to work every Monday morning from you I would feel the week a year long until I would see you on Saturday evening but what must my heart feel now when I cannot see you at all. For when I am at work, my labour cannot give me any concern, but thinking of you. My brother Jack and Maurice and families are well in health ... it troubles me very much to have my child so far from me, as it would be great comfort to my mind to see him once a week. I received your kind letter on the 11th July which removed a mountain from my heart .. all your friends and neighbours send you blessing. I know my dear loving Mary that you will deserve the love and esteem of those with whom you live, as you have merited the goodwill of all who knew you at home. Now my dear wife I am at the point of finishing my letter, farewell, farewell, and may you receive as much consolation at reading of this as I have of reading of yours. May your rest be calm and your dreams sweet always thinking of him, who always thinks of you - again farewell until I can shake hands with my darling Mary, until death do us part. I remain you ever loving and affectionate husband, James Walsh. I have offered a pound to Hennessy the writer if he could do anything for me by writing to the Lord Lieutenant.

• Little Mary died of a lung infection at the Queen's Orphan Hospital, Hobart, on 17 October, 1844. Her mother was given her absolute freedom in January, 1849, but nothing else is known of her. This letter is in the Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery.

'A foreign, hairy appearance' ...

This hairy mania is very contagious; it is even caught up by some members of the Police Force. A stranger landing in town would think he had found himself in some French or Italian town, from the foreign, hairy appearance of the persons he meets. - Letter to the Port Phillip Patriot , Melbourne, 31 August, 1843.

• New chums to the shores of Port Phillip were often bemused by the exotic appearance of some of the locals, usually back country squatters visiting town.

Candle power saves Australia's squatters!

The current price for tallow from fat sheep would be from seven shillings to nine shillings per head after paying the expenses of the process of boiling down while the butchers were giving four shillings to five and sixpence for fat sheep with little or no demand for them. - Letter from squatter George Russell, Western District (Vic) to the Geelong Advertiser , 28 August, 1843.

• Suddenly, the squatters of eastern Australia faced the spectre of losing their vast holdings. A devastating rural recession was upon them, largely caused by the settlers embarking on projects using high interest British capital. Sheep were sold for 'sixpence a head and the station given in'. Finally, the depression was averted in part when a squatter, Henry O'Brien, from Yass (NSW) discovered that sheep could be boiled down for more than their value at the butchers ('boiling down' had, in fact, originated in Russia). The depression did not end until 1847, but many of the ambitious young men were swept away.

Orange v. Green: Melbourne bigotry flourishes

My name is Dirty Darby, and I come from sweet Erin,

The land of potatoes, buttermilk and brogue;

And I grew from my cradle so purty a bairn,

That the neighbours all called me an ugly young rogue. - Slanderous ditty, Port Phillip Patriot , Melbourne, 1843.

• Daniel 'Darby' Kelly was a popular Irish Catholic solicitor's clerk in Melbourne; William Kerr was the querulous, disliked Orange editor of the Patriot . When they had a political difference, Kerr used his position of power to lambast Kelly. Kelly responded a few days later by attacking Kerr with a cudgel, for which he was fined twenty shillings and cheered in the street. That's how business was transacted in early Melbourne.

Flickering fires, soon to be extinguished

Returning one night, about 1843, from dining with Mr William Locke, an old colonial merchant (and one of Melbourne social and civic 'improvers') at his pretty cottage and gardens on the Merri Creek, between four and five miles out on the Sydney Road (near Coburg), I diverged westwards from the purely bush which as yet constituted that main highway of the future Victoria. My object was to escape the swampy vicinities of Brunswick, a village about three miles out of town, consisting for a number of years of three small brick cottages, adventurously rather than profitably built by an early speculator. With firm footing and under a bright moon, I had a pleasant enough walk through what is now the beautiful Royal Park, when, judging that I must be nearing Melbourne, I perceived quite a number of lights ahead. There were as yet no public lights to scattered little Melbourne in those early days, although the new corporation, elected the year before, had got to work by this time. So, what could it all be? I was not long in suspense. It could only be a native encampment, and I was soon in its midst. The natives at a distance, especially in the far western direction, were still at times hostile, but all those who lived near town were already quite peaceful, so that I had no hesitation in now entering their encampment. I was most cordially received and shown over the different wigwams, each of which had its fire burning. I was specially taken to one occupied by a poor fellow who, under native war laws, had had his kidney fat wrenched out and eaten by his foes. - Settler William Westgarth, Recollections of Early Melbourne and Victoria, London, 1888.

Unsuccessful (and novel) defence of insanity

Oh, my country! Shame upon you to cast off one that had served you faithfully! When you went to war I protected you, and when in peace you neglected me ... I now go to prayers for the few hours I have to remain in this world, not to be disturbed with further writing. - Condemned murderer John Knatchbull, Darlinghurst Jail, Sydney, 13 February, 1844.

• Knatchbull was defended, unsuccessfully, on the then novel grounds of insanity. He was hanged outside Darlinghurst Jail for the murder of a shopkeeper, Ellen Jamieson, the previous January. He was a former British navy captain and the son of a country knight who was transported for picking pockets in 1825. Knatchbull's defence lawyer, Robert Lowe and his wife, Georgiana, adopted the murdered women's two children.

Little barbarians of the bush

But Women are beginning to follow into the Bush; and a race of Englishmen must speedily be springing up in a state approaching to that of untutored barbarism. - Governor Sir George Gipps, Sydney, to Lord Stanley, Secretary for Colonies, London, 3 April, 1844.

• Gipps believed the time had arrived for civilisation to reach beyond the Limits of Location and people be encouraged to form permanent, English-style settlements (so they wouldn't turn into Australians).

Boiling down attacked as unpoetic

At Melbourne, some few months ago,

When stock was selling very low,

Our settlers hurried to and fro,

And looked and talked despairingly

 

But Melbourne showed another sight,

When, through the thickest gloom of night,

Forth burst a voice 'All will be right!

Build melting down establishments.'

 

Then all at once on Yarra's banks

Vast numbers rushed with beams and planks,

And cauldrons, boilers, tubs and tanks

Were piled on heaps promiscuously.

 

And now on Yarra's bank a scene

Of fearful carnage may be seen,

And bloodier work than ere has been

At Linden, Prague, or Waterloo

 

Prostrate beneath those awful sheds'

Ten thousand lie on gory beds;

Hide, butchers, your diminished heads

In blaze of our establishments. - Poem by 'Juvenis' circulated in the Port Phillip District, April, 1844.

• In 1841-47 a severe depression struck the Australian pastoral industry, due largely to squatters recklessly spending British loan money. Suddenly, there was no market for their sheep or wool. In 1843, Henry O'Brien, a squatter near Yass (NSW) came forward with a solution which, partially, alleviated the rural distress. He encouraged his fellow landholders to 'boil down' their sheep for tallow, then much in demand in Britain for making candles and soap. A sheep worth as little as sixpence yielded tallow worth as much as six shillings .

Depression of the 1840s: cause and effect

'... 1842-44 constituted an ordeal of the most testing nature for the mercantile fraternity of the time, though which few, indeed, passed unscathed. The tempest came on - the hurricane swept not only the country, but settled on the town, and the crash was all but universal. Speculation, over-trading, and insufficiency of capital, a recklessness in business, and an excessive inter se system of bill-discounting, known as 'kite-flying' only produced the consequences inevitable from such rashness. Every conceivable device for 'raising the wind' was unscrupulously resorted to; but the particular monetary wind that was wanted would not blow. The Resident Judge (Willis), who revelled in the role of mischief-maker, judicially, or extra-judicially, seemed like a spirit of evil with a blazing torch, spreading about the flame of discontent wherever he had a chance; and Supreme Court attachments, sequestrations and assignments, were the order of the day during his tenure of office. Creditors grew clamourous for payment; property of every description not only depreciated in value, but for a time was very unsaleable. Overdue paper could not be retired, overdrafts remained unreduced, and the Australasian and Union banks were, in self-protection, forced to put on the 'screw'. Sales were compelled under ruinous sacrifices, and the break up the general. Some of the merchants and agents terminated their earthly anxieties by dying, while others took wings and 'bolted'. - Edmund Finn (Garryowen), Chronicles of Early Melbourne , 1888.

But was he killed by the chisel or the snake?

On the even of Tuesday 7th instant, a man named Thomas Douglass, who was engaged in building a house at Cockle Creek, in the district of Brisbane Water, was about to clean out an iron pot for the purpose of boiling some meat, when a diamond snake which had coiled itself up inside, bit him in the arm. He immediately informed a man named Taylor, who was living with him of what had occurred, when he procured a chisel, and cut out the part he supposed was bitten, and left to obtain the advice of some of his neighbours. He returned in about half an hour afterwards, but the arm had swelled to such an extent, so much so that the wound occasioned by the bite was not at all perceivable. The man did not complain of the least pain caused by the chisel, but appeared fully aware of what would be the result of the bite, which in about an hour and a half, caused his death. Unfortunately, there was no medical advice to be had. - Social note, Sydney, 8 May, 1844.

Calcutta-bound in equine luxury

The ship, William Metcalfe, Captain Phillipson, now laid on for Calcutta, will take about sixty horses, of which about forty are already engaged. She has a lofty 'tween decks, and being clear fore and aft, there will be a thorough draught, which renders her an eligible ship for the purpose she is engaged for. The stalls, which are nearly completed, are strongly made, and every care has been taken that experience could suggest. - Sydney Herald, 17 May, 1844.

• The William Metcalfe , built at Sunderland, England, in 1834 made her maiden voyage to Hobart in the same year, carrying 240 male convicts. Amazingly, every single convict survived the voyage. Thus, she was most suited ten years later to carry just sixty horses for the British Raj in India.

He's blind to tourist potential of 'mahogany ship'!

It was on this occasion making my way late between Port Fairy and Portland that I saw the stranded boat. - Superintendent Charles La Trobe, Port Phillip District, May, 1844.

• La Trobe observed the 'Mahogany Ship' lying in the sand dunes. Some have wished it was an ancient Portuguese explorer's vessel; others say it was a beached whaling ship, hence the mahogany-like appearance of its oily timbers; there are those spoilsports who say its 'Old World' origins were dreamed up by Henry Kingsley for his novel, Geoffry Hamlyn (1859). But there are still those who say ...

Military meat munchers praise baron of beef

Among the substantial edibles which adorned the festive board of the officers of the 80th Regiment on Wednesday evening, when his Excellency the Commander in Chief of the Forces, attended by his staff and heads of the military departments, dined with them, was a huge baron of beef of about one hundred pounds weight, which was pronounced superior to any the beholders had ever seen, and everyone who partook of it regarded its quality as first-rate. - Sydney Morning Herald, 17 May, 1844.

• The 80th (Staffordshire Volunteers) Regiment of Foot was one of 25 (plus four companies of Marines which came out with the First Fleet in 1788) to serve in Australia until 1870. The officers who enjoyed the 'substantial edibles' probably formed a different view of the colonies from the common soldier, who had to mix with the hoi polloi socially. One private in the 80th wrote in 1838 'anything in a red coat is hated by these people ... most of whom are insubordinate blackguards'.

Squatters protest at the new Land Acts

A Highland Piper in full National Costume

Squatting Cavaliers, two deep

The Banner

The Town Band - Order of march, squatters' protest, Melbourne, 1 June, 1844.

• The squatters, mostly Scots, rallied to protect their land leases under the bold banner, 'Squatters, Guard Your Rights'. In the 1860s, however, their vast holdings were broken up by various Land Acts and thrown open to small selectors .

Read this (several times)

A school has been established at Walkerville by Government for the education of the natives on the Murray. Mr Smith, late of the Treasury, has been appointed master. The natives are instructed in the English language, are making great progress, and the attendance is very numerous, being from sixty to eighty. We have always been of the opinion that it would be much better had the natives been taught the English language from the first; the language of the majority of the inhabitants is generally indispensable, and must in this country be beyond measure the most useful to them. The only reason that we have heard alleged, in favour of the natives being taught in their own dialects, which is the plan adopted by the German missionaries, is that the children cannot be made to understand the irregularities of the spelling, etc. of the English language, but this reason must be met by a demonstration to the contrary; and should such be the fact, we trust the German Missionaries, will lose no time in changing their system. By teaching all of them the English language, the additional benefit of communication between the different tribes will be afford, of which they are at present in a measure deprived by the great variety and differences of their dialects. - Official news report, Adelaide, 21 June, 1844 .

• German missionaries had been an active and enthusiastic force since the first group of 200 south Prussians seeking religious freedom under Pastor August Kavel, landed in South Australia in 1838. They were encouraged by British authorities, but the line was drawn gently eventually when they established aboriginal missions. By then, Kavel's followers had begun to quarrel over Lutheran doctrine with a later (1841) group led by Pastor Gotthard Fritzsche.

Sectarian conflict avoided ... for a while

From the wilds of Port Phillip for many a mile

Flocked the gay loyal sons of the Emerald Isle,

As strapping fine fellows as could well be seen

Who would shed their hearts blood for their own beloved green .- Ditty composed to mark Melbourne's first hurling match, 12 July, 1844.

• The objective of the song was to confound the town's Orangemen who, it was feared, would try to spoil the game. But the Orangemen, taking note of the weapons carried carelessly by the Catholics, wisely stayed away. Melbourne's first ugly sectarian outrage occurred on 13 July, 1846 when Orangemen fired on several people. No one was hurt seriously.

Leichhardt sets out (he returns this time)

On arriving at Brisbane, we were received with the greatest kindness by my friends the 'Squatters', a class principally composed of young men of good education, gentlemanly habits and high principles ... - Explorer Ludwig Leichhardt, Brisbane, 20 August, 1844.

• Leichhardt was about to embark on an overland journey to Port Essington (near Darwin), having been refused a place in Sir Thomas Mitchell's expedition. Here, he describes the forebears of the clientele of a Bachelors and Spinsters ball.

WA settlers agitate for convicts

... after mature deliberations we have come to the determination of petitioning the Secretary of State for Colonies for a gang of forty convicts to be employed exclusively in public works. - Meeting of the York (WA) agricultural Society, April, 1844.

• Convicts were an anathema in the eastern colonies, but some people in Western Australia had been agitating for them to help ease labour shortages in the 1830s. It was nearly a decade before the British Government agreed to send some.

Charles Sturt abandons notion of an inland sea

For fourteen months I kept my position in a country that never changed but for the worse, and from which it was with difficulty that I ultimately escaped. - Explorer Charles Sturt, Mt Poole, Western NSW, 1844.

• Mt Poole was named after Sturt's second-in-command, James Poole, who died of scurvy while they were caught in the area from January to July, 1845. It was on this expedition that Sturt finally abandoned the idea of an inland sea.

Leichhardt praises Queen, eats cockies

Many a man's heart would have thrilled like our own, had he seen us winding our way round the first rise beyond the station, with a full chorus of 'God Save The Queen', which has inspired many a British soldier - aye, and many a Prussian too - with courage in the face of danger. - Explorer Ludwig Leichhardt, Jimbour Station, Queensland, 1 October, 1844.

• Leichhardt and his party of nine left civilisation behind at Jimbour, on the Darling Downs.

We returned to Brown's Lagoons, and entered our camp just as our companions were sitting down to their Christmas dinner of suet pudding and stewed cockatoos. - Explorer Ludwig Leichhardt, Central Queensland, 25 December, 1844.

• Leichhardt spent Christmas Day near the present site of Rolleston, 370km west of Gladstone.

Saucy Irish ladies punch meat inspector in row over chooks

Edward Pierce, the Inspector of Cattle, preferred a complaint against two young ladies named Rose Reilly and Elizabeth McCowen, for having at Batman's Swamp, by sundry threats and the use of obscene language, placed him in 'bodily fear' of being swamped that he prayed the court bound them over to keep the peace. - Port Phillip Herald , 4 March, 1845.

• Rose, it transpired, had punched him on the nose and Elizabeth had threatened to brain him in a dispute over their fowls. Poor Pierce had to pay his costs and the ladies were found to be perfectly innocent. And that says something about the shortage of women in Melbourne in 1845.

Duelling condemned, but okay for Melbourne Club

The growing intelligence of the age has long since denominated the practice of duelling as an absurdity, being as it is a relic of the barbarism of bygone days; but so long as the laws of society remain in their present state, unchecked by stringent legislative enactment, gentlemen must be content to behave themselves decently or submit to the penalty imposed by the Code of Honour on members of the class to which they claim to belong. - Anonymous letter, Port Phillip Patriot , Melbourne, 2 April, 1845.

• Duelling had become frightfully fashionable among Melbourne's self-proclaimed ruling class, principally members of the Melbourne Club, in the 1840s. According to the pioneer journalist, Edmund Finn ( Garryowen ) the first duel was fought between two squatters, Peter Snodgrass and William Ryrie, over a dispute January, 1840 whose cause is lost in alcoholic obscurity. Snodgrass shot himself in the foot prematurely, but Ryrie declined the opportunity to shoot the tiresome chap dead. Similarly, most duels all occurred without injury. But in 1841 Snodgrass was severely wounded when his gun went off early in an affair of honour with the barrister, Redmond Barry, who then fired into the air and went home. Peter Snodgrass came from a family of Scots hot-heads prone to duelling His father, Lieut Colonel Kenneth Snodgrass, a NSW landowner and veteran of the Napoleonic Wars, was accused of trying to provoke a neighbour, James King, to a duel. In October, 1841, he appeared before the Supreme Court in Sydney ...

The Solicitor-General moved for a rule on the affidavit of James King, Esq, near Raymond Terrace, calling on Lieutenant-Colonel (Kenneth) Snodgrass to show cause why a criminal information should not be filed against him for having, in the month of February last, incited the deponent to fight a duel. From the affidavit and letters read it appeared, that the deponent and defendant are neighbouring settlers in the vicinity of Raymond Terrace (north of Newcastle). That in January, 1840, it was mutually agreed to erect a boundary fence between the lands of deponent and defendant, which was done to the satisfaction of each of the parties; but about February last, the deponent wrote to the defendant requesting him to pay his proportion of the cost of completing the said boundary fence, and also complaining that the defendant's servants had broken down the fence, instead of passing through a gateway which had been constructed for the mutual convenience of both parties. In this letter from the deponent a complaint was also made of the conduct of some members of Colonel Snodgrass' family, particularly against the Colonel's son, William. In reply to this communication the defendant wrote to the deponent complaining that he had not consulted him in the first instance as to the mode to which the fence was to be erected, and intimating that the conduct of the deponent had been such as to preclude him (Lieut-Col. Snodgrass) from giving the deponent any explanation except in the usual way, and stating where he was to be found for that purpose. The deponent sent the whole of the correspondence to this Excellency the Governor, who after some time returned an answer to the deponent, informing him that he had read deponent's statement and the correspondence, but did not conceive that it was a case in which he could interfere. Some time after, the deponent met with the defendant, when the latter accused him of writing lies to the Governor, and threatened that if he found him telling or writing any such lies about him that he would apply his stick to the back of the deponent (James King). A fuller version given to the court was the pair met in a public road and Snodgrass shook a stick at King and said: If you writ any more such things of me to the Governor, you blackguard, I will beat you with this stick.- Sydney Herald, 1 November, 1841.

• The outcome was that Snodgrass was found guilty and fined 100 pounds. Governor Sir George Gipps graciously agreed to forgo the fine because of Snodgrass's service to the Empire, but many thought it was really because the old soldier been driven insane by one too many musket balls between the eyes during Peninsula Campaign.

Greed gets seal of approval

In plain language, there exists in the Colonies but one aristocracy, and that is wealth; rank and talent are nothing in the scales. The Colonies worship no god but Plutus: rank is not of much account; talent is respected abstractedly, but it commands almost no respect for individuals. - Thomas McCombie, Melbourne (Arabin) , 1845.

• McCombie was a young British observer who visited Melbourne in its pre-gold rush period and found society wanting. His thoughts were published in his novel, Arabin .

Leichhardt's premature obituary

Ye who prepare with pilgrim feet

Your long and doubtful path to wend;

If - whitening on the waste - ye meet meet

The relics of my murdered friend -

His bones with rev'rence ye shall bear

To where some mountain streamlet flows;

There by its mossy bank, prepare

The pillow of his long repose.' - Ode to Ludwig Leichhardt, Sydney Morning Herald , 2 June 1845.

• This drivel was written in response to a rumour which swept Sydney that Leichhardt, overlanding to Darwin, had been killed by aborigines. On the day of publication Leichhardt was, in fact, on the banks of the Lynd River, in north Queensland near the Gulf of Carpentaria. His chief collector, John Gilbert, was killed by aborigines on 28 June, 1845.

1845-49: Irish potato famine kills nearly one million people, sends more than 1.3 million abroad.

Desperate Irish are driven to crime by hunger

In many districts, their only food is the potato, their only beverage water, that their cabins are seldom a protection against the weather, that a bed or blanket is a rare luxury, and nearly in all, their pig and manure heap constitute their only property. - British Parliamentary Papers, London, 1845.

• This report to the British Parliament attempted to explain why the Irish were committing more crimes, necessitating transportation, at the beginning of the potato famine.

Asian immigrants sought for Northern Australia

Her Majesty's Government have been pleased to authorise the Commandant at the settlement of Victoria on the coast of North Australia to encourage the immigration of a limited number of Chinese and Malays who may feel disposed to adventure there. - Government Proclamation, Singapore, 9 June, 1845.

• The Colony of North Australia, centred on Victoria, Port Essington (near Darwin) was proclaimed in 1846 and abandoned in 1847. European settlers had shown no taste for the inhospitable place.

Leichhardt loses his botanist, John Gilbert

The spear that terminated poor Gilbert's existence, had entered the chest, between the clavicle and the neck; but made so small a wound, that, for some time, I was unable to detect it. - Explorer Ludwig Leichhardt, North Queensland, 28 June, 1845.

• John Gilbert was chief collector for John Gould's expedition to Australia, 1838-40. Some historians believe the camp, near the Gulf of Carpentaria, was attacked because the two aborigines with the party had molested some women.

Shipwreck in Bass Strait: 400 lost

MEMORIAL of the total wreck of the Immigrant ship Cataraqui from Liverpool to Port Phillip, C.W. Finlay, Master, on these reefs, 4th August 1845. Of four hundred and eight souls on board, but nine survived. - Tablet erected by the grieving citizens of Melbourne, King Island, Bass Strait.

Cataraqui was a mighty ship of 800 tonnes which left Liverpool on 20 April, 1845 with 362 settlers, two doctors and a crew of 46. They came principally from the Midlands and the north of England. At 5am on 4 August, about 100km off course, she struck a reef on King Island and the people trapped below decks were drowned. At a public meeting in Melbourne, when the full horrors of the catastrophe was revealed, the NSW government was roundly condemned for failing to build a lighthouse on the island. At least seven ships had been wrecked there in the past ten years, including the Neva in 1835, when 145 female convicts died.

Females flee bushrangers in VDL bush

Van Diemens Land is in a bad state. The men of the bush are almost their own masters, and crimes the most horrible are of daily occurrence. All the females have left the bush and taken refuge in the towns, and even there are subject to every kind of insult. - Naval and Military Gazette , London, 11 October, 1845.

Leichhardt safe, reduced to tears

I was deeply affected in finding myself again in civilised society, and could scarcely speak, the words growing big with tears and emotion. - Explorer Ludwig Leichhardt, Port Essington (NT), 17 December, 1845.

• Leichhardt's party were guided to the settlement at Port Essington by aborigines. They sailed back to Sydney a month later on the sloop, Heroine.

And Leichhardt is returned again - the good man and the brave,

Safe from the unknown wilderness, we deemed had been his grave;

For not long had he gone from us, before dark rumours spread,

That made us all but think of him, as one among the dead;

And, though such tidings afterwards, by anxious friends were brought,

As shed a light in sanguine minds, upon that mournful thought,

Most of us feared those friends had found his latest earthly track,

Or that he had but further roamed never more to come back! - 'Leichhardt's Return', Port Phillip Herald, Melbourne, 14 April, 1846.

• So Leichhardt was safe! But, my word, he'd give them something to worry about next time he ventured into the wilds, wouldn't he? ( see 8 March, 1848).

'... both looked upward and began to cry'

They started in seeing a dozen white fellows in waiting for them; and, when led to the foot of the scaffold, both looked upward and began to cry ... - Execution, Melbourne, 30 April, 1845.

• Two aborigines, Ptolemy and Booby, were hanged for the murder of a squatter, Andrew Beveridge, at Piangil, on the Murray River. Beveridge's brother, Peter, became a friend to the aborigines later and published The Aborigines of Victoria and Riverina As Seen By Peter Beveridge (1889).

Despairing cry of the condemned

I was, like many others, driven to despair by the oppressive and tyrannical conduct of those whose duty it was to prevent us from being treated in this way. Yet these men are courted by society; and the British Government, deceived by the interested representations of these men, continues to carry on a system that has and still continues to ruin the prospects of the souls and bodies of thousands of British subjects. Will it be believed hereafter, that this was allowed to be carried on in the nineteenth century? - Condemned bushranger William ('Jacky-Jacky') Westwood, Norfolk Island, October, 1846.

• Westwood and 12 others were hanged on 13 October, 1846, for leading a convict mutiny.

Search for white woman living with blacks

I have not the slightest doubt of such a person being there ... in addition to the information already communicated to you on this subject, I now learn the female appears to be about 24 or 25 years of age... - Capt William Lonsdale, acting Superintendent, Port Phillip District, October, 1846.

• A ship named the Brittomart disappeared off the East Gippsland coast in 1839. The passengers included the pregnant wife of a Melbourne brewer, Thomas Capel. Later, there were several reports of a white woman living with the aborigines. An expedition went out with Lonsdale's blessing but failed to find her.

WHITE WOMAN! There are fourteen armed men, partly white and partly black, in search of you. Be cautious and rush to them when you see them near you. Be particularly on the look out every dawn of morning for it is then that the party are in hope of rescuing you. The white settlement is towards the setting sun. - Message on handkerchiefs nailed to gum trees (in English and Gaelic) by a search party in Gippsland in 1846-47.

No duck for dinner, spuds instead

This morning was rather rainy; Mr Barker called on his way to town. He told us that there were some blacks at the foot of the fence. We accordingly went down and recognised several of our old friends and amongst them Ben-Benje, who readily agreed to shoot ducks for us. We gave the gun to him after he had breakfasted and he set out. After breakfast, we went to school and went over all the French history and we came out. Mr McLure went to dig the potatoes for dinner with Willie. After dinner, Ben-Benjie returned without the ducks and gave me the charge of three boommerings as he was going away tomorrow. - From the diary of George McCrae, aged 13, Arthur's Seat Run, Port Phillip Settlement, 19 December, 1846.

• George was the son of the lawyer Andrew McCrae and his wife, the artist Georgiana (acknowledged daughter of the Duke of Gordon) who settled in Port Phillip in 1841 and squatted near Dromana, southeast of Melbourne, for some time. John McLure, who dug potatoes, was the McCrae boys' tutor, an MA from Glasgow.

Squabbles wreck Celtic famine relief fund

That this meeting being deeply concerned by the distress prevailing in Ireland and Scotland, consequent upon the unprecedented scarcity of food, resolves to make every effort in its power towards alleviating same ... (by) bringing out Immigrants to Port Phillip, selected by the suffered of Ireland and the Highlands of Scotland, according to the sums subscribed. - Emergency aid meeting, Melbourne, 19 July, 1847.

• Reports of the deepening famine in Ireland, and to a lesser extent in Scotland, caused the citizens of Port Phillip to establish the first community-based immigration fund. But disputes among committee members caused the scheme to fail.

Port Phillip lacks 'recognised aristocracy'

... any body of men, possessed of that acknowledged wisdom, rank and influence, which makes them the recognised aristocracy of the colony, and which would enable them, if formed into an Upper House, to impart to that house, the weight and dignity, without which it would be a worthless sham. But I look in vain for such a class of men. True it is, that there are in the colony many gentlemen of birth, education, ability and intelligence - men thoroughly acquainted with the interests, and fully able to manage the affairs of the colony, but nevertheless either not possessed of those qualities which would benefit an Upper House, or with those qualities unrecognised or unappreciated by the public ... - Alan Cunninghame, letter to the editor, Port Phillip Herald, Melbourne 23 July, 1847.

• Alan Cunninghame was a Scots barrister who yearned for a colonial 'House of Lords' dominated by the squatters, but conceded there were not enough men of quality among his peers.

Colonial society is divided by a well defined line which marks off the criminal from the unconvicted population, and is particularly adhered to on the part of the upper classes. - Melbourne merchant William Westgarth, Australia Felix , 1847.

• Westgarth, a prolific writer about the colonies, wrote his first volume while on a journey to England and Scotland. He would not have known much about convictism, anyway. Apart from the shepherds and stockmen from NSW and Van Diemens Land (who were very prominent in early Port Phillip court reports) and gaol gangs from Van Diemens Land, he would not have seen any in the district to which he emigrated in 1840.

The proprietor of this roadside hostelry, which was most prettily situated in a sharp angle of the Deep Creek under the steep bank of the elevated plains was, was a short, burly, and somewhat foul-mouthed specimen of an ex-Van Diemens Land constable, with a stentorian voice which was often heard in a volley directed at some dilatory or offending menial in the distance. - Alfred Joyce, squatter, Central Victoria, c. 1847.

• The publican Joyce refers to so affectionately was William 'Tulip' Wright, Melbourne's former first chief constable (from 1838). The nickname is derived from the fact that he always wore a green coat with his red face protruding bulbously from the neck. The journalist, Edmund Finn ( Garryowen ) described him further: He had a neck nearly as thick as a bullock's set in a massive frame which tended towards what is known as 'corporation'. Crowned with a cabbage-tree hat, and screwed into a pair of cords or moleskins, and a set of stout riding boots, you had "the Tulip" ready for action at a moment's notice.

Townsfolk demand 'no convicts!'

That the moral and social influences of the convict system, and the contamination and vice which are inseparable from it, are evils for which no pecuniary benefits would serve as a compromise. - Resolution adopted at an anti-transportation meeting, Melbourne, 1 March, 1847.

• This meeting was held in the Queen St Theatre under the chairmanship of the Mayor of Melbourne, Henry Moor, and was designed by townsfolk to halt a move to the return of convict transportation to NSW, of which Melbourne was still a part. A renewal of transportation, which had ceased seven years before, was initiated by wealthy squatters, who yearned for the good old days of slave labour.

Will you imitate the antiquated folly of the Egyptian priests who sacrificed bullocks to blue-bottle flies? Will you agree to inundate your land with a cataclysm of immorality? Will you agree to receive such men as a Jeffrey, who violated the mother, and then dashed out her infants's brains while the unconscious innocent was smiling upon its murderer? Or will you agree to receive such men as the cannibal Pearce, who, according to his own dying confession, devoured the flesh and muscles of seven of his fellow creatures? - Anonymous speaker at the anti-transportation meeting, Melbourne, 1 March, 1847.

• Even in a town noted for the fine speech-making of its citizens, such anti-convict sentiments brought glory to the anonymous speaker for a week.

Missing white woman haunts Gippsland forests

I, Bunjaleena, promise to deliver to Charles J. Tyers, the white female residing with the Gippsland blacks, provided a party of whites and Westernport blacks proceed with me to the mountains at as early a day as may be convenient, for the purpose of obtaining her from my brother. I also agree to leave my two wives and two children with the said Charles J. Tyers, as hostages for the fulfilment of my promise. And I, Charles J. Tyers, promise on the part of Her Majesty's Government to give Bunjaleena one boat, with oars, a tent, four blankets, a guernsey frock, some fishhooks and a fishing line, and a tomahawk for the said Bunjaleena's own use; and six blankets, two tomahawks, three guernsey frocks and other articles, between three or four men of the said Bunjaleena's tribes, who may be instrumental in the recovery of the said white female, conditioned that the said Bunjaleena fulfil his part of the agreement. - Agreement between Crown Lands Commissioner Charles Tyers and aboriginal chief Bujaleena, Eagle Point (near the present Bairnsdale), Gippsland), 17 May, 1847.

• Bunjaleena failed to deliver. He and his hostage family were consigned for a while to the police station at Narre Warren, near Melbourne while it was hinted, darkly, that he had forewarned his brother. The mystery of the missing woman and child was resolved on 5 August, 1847 (see entry).

Was this our very first anaesthetic?

... the following extract from a letter from Dr. C. Buchanan, of Port Stephens, to Capt, King, describing an operation performed on a patient who had inhaled ether, has been handed to us for publication. It will be seen that it corroborates all that has been said in favour of this important discovery: 'I wrote to you on 21st about a man named Hickey, who was brought into the Company's Hospital with a popliteal aneurysm, and requesting you to make an inquiry about his being admitted to the General Hospital in Sydney: or should there be any difficulty about that, to send me up an aneurysmal needle, etc, and I would operate here. Finding that the aneurysmal tumour continued to increase very rapidly, and the man suffering a great deal of pain, I thought it would be better to operate at all hazards, as the conveying of him to Sydney might be attended with risk. I got Fletcher to make me am aneurysmal needle and a pair of retractors, which answered the purpose very well. I performed the operation, and not being aware of the kinds of apparatus used for the inhalation of ether, I tried to simple bladder with mouthpiece, similar to what is used in the inhalation of nitrous oxide, or laughing gas, which answered in purpose admirably (I must tell you that I tried it on myself, which convinced me as to its efficacy).' - Sydney Morning Herald , 6 July, 1847.

• Writing in Australia's Quest for Colonial Health (1983), anaesthetist and historian, Dr Gwenifer Wilson said this may have been the first use of anaesthetic in Australia. The letter was sent from Dr Buchanan, employed by the Australian Agricultural Company to Captain Phillip Parker King, Resident Commissioner of the London-based conglomerate. King was formerly a distinguished naval surveyor and son of the First Fleeter (and later Governor), Philip Gidley King.

'Unlock the land!'

... this monstrous confiscation, this gross injustice ... perpetuated to glut the avarice, to gorge the ambition of from four to five hundred persons. - Robert Lowe, NSW Legislative Council, 1 August, 1847.

• Lowe, a brilliant young Oxford-educated lawyer, was vehemently opposed to an Order in Council from London which favoured heavily the squatters in Queensland, NSW and the Port Phillip District. The Order gave the squatters security of tenure for up to fourteen years.

Irish Famine toll bring dramatic increase in crime

The criminal tables show an increase of 12,717 committals, a result which was to have been anticipated from famine which prevailed for the entire period, and the social disorganisation consequent on a state of distress. The prisons have been crowded by a person hitherto of good character, who have committed offences by families, with a view to obtaining the support which they failed to procure from legitimate sources of parochial relief or charitable contribution. - Crimes and Sentences Records , Ireland, 1847.

• The Irish famine lasted, officially, from 1845-49 but there was increasing rural distress from the late-1830s. There was a marked increase in the number of people charged with crimes of self-preservation. Unfortunately, there was a diminishing number of places they could be transported. NSW refused to take convicts from 1841 and the (soon-to-be) colony of Victoria was adamant in its refusal. So they were sent to an increasingly-reluctant Van Diemens Land. The famine began when blight destroyed an appreciable amount of the potato crop in 1845, followed by an almost total loss next year. Nearly a million people had died by 1851 and 1.25 million escaped to America. The rest found refuge in Britain, Australia and Canada.

Distant friend of the Church of England in VDL

Pray for the good estate of Augustus Welby de Pugin. - Inscription (in Latin) on a stained glass window in St Joseph's, Hobart, c. 1847.

• Pugin, a Catholic layman, who designed the exterior details of the Houses of Parliament, London, in the 1840s, never visited Tasmania. But he was a friend of Bishop Robert Willson, who was appointed to the colony from Nottingham in 1844. Willson brought with him a cargo of Pugin's work, including textiles, carved stonework, furniture and stained glass for Van Diemens Land's Catholic churches. He continued to supply artwork free of charge almost until his death in 1852, including the above modest tribute to himself.

French rescue Ben Boyd's island 'slaves'

Considerable excitement prevailed respecting the proceeding of New Hebrideans imported into this Colony by Mr B. Boyd. The savages were sent to various stations belonging to their importer in the interior, from which they almost immediately decamped, making their way down to Sydney, and in the course of their progress, their wild appearance, and still wilder actions, caused much alarm. - Sydney Shipping Gazette , 18 October, 1847.

• Benjamin Boyd, a London stockbroker, arrived in Sydney in 1842 with much fanfare and more than a million pounds to invest. By 1844, he had 426,000 acres, principally in the Monaro district of NSW. Unfortunately, with the cessation of convict transportation in 1841, the source of government-supplied slaves had vanished and he was obliged to get them from the Pacific Islands. The islanders were eventually repatriated from Sydney by a French vessel, L'Arche de L'Alliance , despite Boyd's furious protestations. Boyd, who founded Boydtown on the NSW South Coast, eventually disappeared (apparently eaten by the locals) on Guadalcanal, in the Solomons.

Death's blessing! Tale of woman and child

Death though regarded as a mishap by others, must have descended as a blessing upon this poor woman, who had undergone a trial far more harrowing and terrible than Death's worst moments. She is now no more - and it is a melancholy gratification that the public suspense has been at length relieved, by her discovery even in death. - Port Phillip Herald , Melbourne, 5 November, 1847.

• A black trooper, Tommy, found the remains assumed to be of a white woman and child at Jemmys Point, Gippsland, just seven kilometres from the residence of the government representative, Commissioner Charles Tyers. The remains were buried in the presence of local whites. It closed a mystery first raised by the pioneering squatter, Angus McMillan, in 1840.

Death of Lady Mary FitzRoy

Oh, George, I've killed Lady Mary, I've killed your mother! - Governor Charles FitzRoy to his son, George, 7 December, 1847.

• A carriage, driven by FitzRoy and carrying his wife, Mary, daughter of the Duke of Richmond and an aide, Lieut G. C. Master, overturned at the gate of Government House. Lady Mary and Master were killed. FitzRoy considered returning to England, but decided against it and soon consoled himself with members of the opposite sex.

Bareknuckles on the riverbank

A regular 'scene' took place yesterday morning, there having been no less than three prize-fights on the banks of the Saltwater (Maribyrnong) River, about a mile and a half from Kilts public house (opposite Flemington Racecourse). The six combatants, accompanied by their seconds and particular friends, started for the 'battlefield' on Sunday afternoon and quambied near the spot that night. At an early hour yesterday morning, nearly all the cabs in town were in requisition, proceeding with their cargoes to the scene of action. - Newspaper report, Melbourne, 11 January, 1848.

• The police were keen to stop such unseemly behaviour and turned up to read the Riot Act. But the crowd grew so hostile that they beat a prudent retreat and announced that some of those present would be charged on summons.

Wik judgment foreshadowed way back in 1848

(Pastoral leases are) not intended to deprive the Natives of their former right to hunt over these Districts, or to wander over them in search of subsistence, in the manner to which they have been heretofore accustomed, from the spontaneous produce of the soil except over land actually cultivated (or) fenced in for that purpose. - Earl Grey, Secretary for Colonies, London, to Governor Sir Charles FitzRoy, Sydney, 11 February, 1848.

• This dispatch became one of the vital guidelines when the High Court of Australia was considering its finding in the Wik judgment in 1996. The court concluded in favour of the aborigines that native access should live in harmony with pastoral leases.

1848-1850: Settlements at Otago and Canterbury, New Zealand, established by lay associates of Free Church of Scotland and Church of England.

Ludwig Leichhardt vanishes (seriously)

We shall sail down the Condamine .... and follow Mitchell's track to the northern bend of the Victoria (Burke); I shall then proceed to the northward until I come upon decided water of the Gulph, and after that resume my original course to the westward. - Explorer Ludwig Leichhardt, Sydney Morning Herald , 8 March, 1848.

• He planned to cross Australia from east to west and follow the coast south to Perth. He left Cogoon Station on the Darling Downs in April and nothing has been heard from him or his party since.

1848: Eighteen Young Ireland rebels given life transportation to Australia for a hopeless attack on a police station in Tipperary on 29 July. Radicals rebelled across Europe, most successfully in France, that year. Many of the disillusioned rebels, particularly Germans, fled to Victoria in time for the gold rush.

Mayor alleged to enjoy brothels, sues and wins

I'll frolic with the lasses

And feast my carnal sight

On the shameless work that passes

In a bawdy house at night - William Kerr, newspaper editor, Melbourne, 1848.

• Kerr, editor of the Argus , made unseemly suggestions in a lampoon in the newspaper about the after-hours behaviour of Henry Moor, mayor of Melbourne and a prominent lay Anglican. Moor won substantial damages.

Slaughtered shark coughs up passenger's pork

We caught a shark about 7 feet long - not full sized. As soon as it was known, a general rush was made to catch a sight. It showed amazing strength. Many hands were required top pull it on deck, where it displayed much violence, dashing itself against the deck until it was disposed of by knives, cutting of its tail where most of its strength lies, then its head, after which he was opened, when we found a large piece of pork belonging to one of the passengers which had been hung alongside the ship a few minutes previous. - Diary of emigrant John Roper, Fortitude , Brisbane-bound, Atlantic Ocean, 18 October, 1849.

• The ship carried 270 fare-paying Protestant citizens, emigrating at the urging of the Presbyterian clergyman John Dunmore Lang. Their unexpected arrival caused controversy when they arrived in Moreton Bay (see 22 January, 1849).

' ... roast beef to fancy we were in Old England'

Christmas Day arrives and we are once more favoured with fair wind, and our excellent Captain uses his utmost endeavour to make us all comfortable as far as practicable by giving us a double allowance of rations, sugar, butter, flour, suet etc. likewise half a pint of excellent punch to all adults, which proved very acceptable, and we only wanted roast beef to fancy we were in Old England. We drank the Captain's health on deck with 3 times 3. The day passed off with much hilarity. - Emigrant John Roper, Fortitude , Brisbane-bound, Southern Ocean, 25 December, 1848.

Edmund Kennedy's Cape York disaster

Niblett and Wall both died this morning. I had been talking with them both trying to encourage them to hope on to the last; but sickness, privation and fatigue had overcome them and they had abandoned themselves to calm and listless despair. - William Carron, Weymouth Bay, Cape York Peninsula, 28 December, 1848.

• Carron was second-in-charge of Edmund Kennedy's expedition to the tip of Cape York in 1848. The terrain and jungle were so difficult that Kennedy decided to try to make the final leg alone with a black tracker, Jackey Jackey and leave the others behind at Weymouth Bay. Carron, Jackey Jackey and one other man were the only survivors.

Christmas drinking worries 'poor swells'

There is a continual scene of dissipation and drinking among the lower orders. And we poor swells, instead of partaking in any sort of enjoyment, are kept continually galloping from station to station in mortal terror that Long Jim, Lanky Dick, with Bobby the Bull are all drunk, with the sheep looking after themselves on the tops of the mountains. - Letter from squatter John Thomson to his partner Niel Black, Western District, Victoria, 29 December, 1848.

Sailor sounds 55 fathoms, Captain feels safe!

Wind unfavourable - continues two days. Reached Bass's Strait on the 3rd towards night, with a stiff breeze and hazy, which caused some anxiety on part of the Captain, as we could not see land. He sounded and found 55 fathoms, which proved satisfactory, and we proceeded on our course; the next day to our great mortification, we had an unfavourable wind, and we were beating about the Strait amidst the rocks of amazing size, and the promontory of South Australia. Various small islands .... 6th Passed some very large rocks, very much like old castle in ruins (Twelve Apostles?). - Emigrant John Roper, Fortitude , Brisbane-bound, off Cape Otway, 1-6 January, 1849.

• Roper was married with four children, a farmer from Essex who enjoyed immensely the experiences of his only ship's voyage.

' ... climate most salubrious, with a beautiful sandy beach...'

The boat having the intelligence which was little expected that we were to perform quarantine on Moreton Island, the opposite side of the bay, And that the Government would provide fresh provisions for us, and that tents and wigwams were to be erected, and on Sunday we began to land, and a most pleasing sensation once more to tread of terra firma. The island is about 25 miles in circumference, sandy soil, but well covered with trees, some of great dimensions, which confirm there being a different soil beneath the sand. It is also well watered by springs of beautiful and a vast quantity of wild fowl are there. It is also very mountainous, which gave it a beautiful appearance, and the climate most salubrious, with a beautiful sandy beach, so that a number of persons like ourselves might spend a fortnight very agreeably indeed. Our ship is also anchored about three quarters of a mile from the beach, an d the boats are coming daily to us and they are getting in their fresh stock of water. We have plenty of bathing - frequently night and morning. - Immigrant John Roper, Moreton Island (Brisbane), 26 January, 1849.

• They were quarantined while desperate local authorities wondered what to do with them. They became Queensland's first holidaymakers ... beautiful one day, perfect the next! The Fortitude immigrants, and those on the two Lang ships which followed them, Chaseley and Lima , were the effective founders of Brisbane. They showed great strength of character despite their initial disappointment. A year after their arrival, the Bank of NSW opened a branch there, and in 1851, citizens gathered for the first meeting demanding Separation from NSW.

1849: The amazing birth of Fortitude Valley

From 1846-1849, John Dunmore Lang, clergyman and immigration promoter, was abroad pushing his personal dream of settling reputable British Protestant yoemanry in Australia, particularly in the Moreton Bay district (still part of NSW). In all, he arranged the despatch of six ships to the colonies, three of which went to Brisbane and, eventually, three to Melbourne. The unassisted passengers believed they would get free land grants. Alas, no one had told the colonial authorities, particularly Captain John Wickham, government magistrate and Sydney's man in Brisbane. The first of the ships, the Fortitude , arrived in Moreton Bay in January, 1849. In confusion, Wickham wrote to the government immigration agent, Francis Merewether, in Sydney, on 22 January, 1849 ...

My dear Merewether, I am glad to find the papers relative to the Artemisia are correct (the Artemisia was a government-endorsed ship carrying 240 government-assisted immigrants which arrived the previous 13 December) . I fancy myself now in a speck of trouble. Dr Lang's ship, the Fortitude, has just arrived with 270 immigrants on board. From what I hear, they are not a description of persons to engage of shepherds or hut keepers. They appear to be under the delusion that land has been selected and laid out for them, that every arrangement t has been made for their accommodation, and it only remained for them to commence operations. Poor people, I do not know what can be done for them. The ship is only to remain 10 days after arrival, therefore they must be landed as soon as possible and I must give them what accommodation the Government buildings afford and I fancy that if they have not the means of procuring food, I must cause the contractors to supply. I scarcely know anything of them yet, have only heard from the Harbourmaster that the ship is in the Bay and that enquiries have been made by the immigrants respecting Lang. Of all wild scheme, this seems to be the wildest, sending 270 people top a strange country with having made the slightest arrangement for their reception, indeed, it was only through a newspaper report that we had any idea of such a ship being on the way to Moreton Bay.

The immigrants are in a manner consigned to Mr (John) Richardson, a storekeeper in Brisbane, but he has no funds and is at a loss what to do in the manner. Shall I be justified in lending, tents, iron bedsteads and utensils which have been supplied to this depot? You will oblige me by giving your advice in this matter. If these people have not the means of providing for themselves, it appears to me that I shall have to consider them in the light of distressed British Subjects and provide for them as for Shipwrecked Seaman or others. Of course, under those circumstances, I should consider the parties bound to accept any offers of employment that might be made to them or be struck off the ration list.

I shall write officially to the Colonial Secretary (in Sydney) reporting the arrival of the ship and ask for instructions as to how far I may be authorised to assist the immigrants. A very long letter addressed to Mr Richardson by Dr Lang has been placed in my hands, but owing to the press of business as the steamer starts at 4 am tomorrow morning, I have not time time to understand it. He calls on Dr Simpson and myself for assistance, but what can we do? No doubt, something must be done, but at present I am quite at a loss. I have requested Mr Richardson to go on the board the ship and learn from the immigrants themselves what their expectations are and what they are fit for.

In the event of their being unable to provide for themselves and being willing to take any employment that offers, can they be put on the footing of government immigrants and be provided for accordingly? This investment may ultimately benefit us, but I fear it will entail a vast degree of suffering to the poor people.

• The NSW government denied any knowledge of the immigrants, or any promises made to them, and advised Wickham that they were not to be allowed even temporary occupancy of Crown Lands. The noble Wickham let them set up a temporary camp in an area they named Fortitude Valley and they became some of the most industrious pioneers of Brisbane. Their difficulties were very largely caused by personality differences between Lang and Governor Sir Charles FitzRoy, in Sydney, and Earl Grey, Secretary for Colonies, in London.

In 1899, J.G. Cribb, a speaker at the 50th anniversary celebrations of the arrival of the Lang ships said despite the endeavours of Earl Grey and Fitzroy to set the immigrants against John Dunmore Lang, they continued his fast friends and even induced their friends to follow, so that the number who arrived as the result of Dr Lang's mission was estimated at not less than 2000 ... the next five years were full of events, culminating in (Separation from NSW) in 1859 in the erection of these territories (as an) independent colony, free land for free men. Even in a challenged and scattered outline, the thoughtful could see what a power for good these immigrants were, and how that influence permeated every fibre of civilised life, as well as our religious life.

1849: California gold rush.

More Melbourne protests over convicts

That the introduction of convicts to Port Phillip under any designation, or in any manner whatever, as contemplated by the Secretary of State (in London) is, in the opinion of this meeting, unacceptable to the great majority of all classes of the community, and injurious to the moral and social interests of the colony. - Resolution passed at (yet another) anti-transportation meeting, Melbourne, 15 March, 1849.

• The colonists in Melbourne had heard that the British Government had secretly contacted Governor Sir Charles FitzRoy, in Sydney, about the prospects of dumping a few hundred of its unwanted felons in the town. When the first ship, Randolph , arrived on 8 August, 1849, Superintendent Charles La Trobe, sent it on to Sydney.

Dead faces in the dirty streets of Melbourne

Passing through Lonsdale St on Saturday last, we observed in two pools of stagnant water, which exist in the most crowded portion of that street, no less than seventeen dead animals, varying from the good-sized calf to the diminutive kitten, and we have no doubt the water concealed from our view numerous other bodies. - Newspaper report, Melbourne, 28 March, 1849.

Sydney joins Melbourne in anger over convicts

Convicts had been the source of wealth to many; many hoped again to amass riches from their services; but Australia now wanted them not - she could very well do without them. - Merchant Robert Campbell, Sydney, 11 June, 1849.

• The British Government had suspended convict transportation to NSW in 1840, but unilaterally decided to renew it in 1848. This was at the behest of large landholders in the colony who wanted the benefits of slave labour. When the convict ship, Hashemy , appeared in Sydney Harbour in June, 1849, there was a huge protest demonstration.

... the majority of the colonists came to this province under a distinct understanding that no convicts would be sent and that they were coming to a perfectly free and unpolluted colony. - Resolution at an anti-convicts meeting, Melbourne, 22 August, 1849.

• In 1849, tempers were aroused in Melbourne when the vessel Randolph tried to discharge ex-convicts, known as 'exiles'. They were people who had served their time in England. Superintendent Charles La Trobe, fearing violence, paid the captain 500 pounds to take them on to Sydney, where they were allowed to land.

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