THE FIRST FLEET, BOTANY BAY AND THE BRITISH PENAL COLONY
The Founding of Australia. By Capt. Arthur Phillip R.N. Sydney Cove, Jan. 26th 1788, Algernon Talmadge R.A, 1937, Courtesy State Library of New South Wales
The First Fleet of 11 ships, each one no larger than a Manly ferry, left Portsmouth in 1787 with more than 1480 men, women and children onboard. Although most were British, there were also African, American and French convicts. After a voyage of three months the First Fleet arrived at Botany Bay on 24 January 1788. Here the Aboriginal people, who had lived in isolation for 40,000 years, met the British in an uneasy stand off at what is now known as Frenchmans Beach at La Perouse.
On 26 January two French frigates of the Lapérouse expedition sailed into Botany Bay as the British were relocating to Sydney Cove in Port Jackson. The isolation of the Aboriginal people in Australia had finished. European Australia was established in a simple ceremony at Sydney Cove on 26 January 1788.