warships, three supply ships and six ships which carried the main group, almost 800 convicts. Governor Arthur Phillip was in command. When the fleet reached the planned destination of Botany Bay, Governor Phillip was disappointed to find that it was not suitable for settlement. So the fleet continued a few kilometers up the coast to an inlet Cook had named Port Jackson. Here Phillip found what he described as 'the finest harbour in the world'. On its shore, at a place he named Sydney Cove, Phillip established the first European settlement in Australia.
The main reason for a British settlement in Australia was to provide a place of punishment where convicts could be sent. Phillip's task was to establish such a settlement and make it self-supporting as soon as possible, so that the British government would not have to pay large amounts of money to keep it going. this was an enormously difficult job for several reasons:
- The people who were to build the settlement were convicts. Generally they were not good workers and very few of them had any knowledge of farming or carpentry - the two skills most needed in the new colony.
- Unlike Aborigines, who lived well off the land, the new settlers did not understand the Australian
- environment. Nor, in the early years, did they have much success in finding fertile land or growing enough food to feed the whole settlement.
- The new convict settlement at Sydney Cove was very isolated. The nearest European settlements
- were in the Dutch East Indies and at the Cape of Good Hope.
- It would take up to 18 months to get news to Britain and back.
Because of these difficulties the first British settlement in Australia was lucky to survive its early years. the supplies they brought with them ran out, the first attempts at farming failed and while waiting more than two years for a second fleet to arrive from Britain, Phillip's small band almost starved. It took some years before the British penal colony was successfully established on the edge of Sydney Cove.
PemulwuyEditMany Aborigines fought to resist the spread of white settlement. One of the first leaders of this resistance was
Pemulwuy, a member of the Botany Bay tribe. He organised Aborigines living in the Sydney area to make attacks on European settlers and their property. In 1790 Pemulwuy killed Governor Phillip's gamekeeper, a man he believed to be responsible for mistreating Aborigines. In retaliation, Phillip ordered his soldiers to cap;ture or kill six people from Pemulwuy's tribe. In doing this, Phillip was acting brutally and against British law. Such an action was uncharacteristic of Phillip, but it showed that he did not believe that Aboriginal people had to be treated according to the same laws and Europeans. In fact Phillip's solders failed to find Pemulwuy or any of his tribe. Despite two expeditions to Botany Bay (carrying, as Captain Tench recorded, 'ropes to bind our prisoners with, and hatchets and bags, to cut Aboriginals easily kept clear of the soldiers. During his remaining time as Governor, Phillip failed to capture Pemulwuy, who continued to lead attacks on settlers all around the outskirts of Sydney. In 1797, during a fight with solders and settlers at Parramatta, Pemulwuy was wounded and capture. Within a short time, however, he escaped and resumed leadership of his people. Then, in 1801, Sydney's third Governor, Philip Gidley King, offered a reward for Pemulwuy. He also cleared all Aboriginal people from the edges of European settlement and told them that there would be no more friendly relations until Pemulwuy was recaptured.
On 23 August 1770 Captain Cook landed on a small island off the northern tip of Australia and claimed thewhole of eastern Australia for Britain. During his voyage u the east coast he had landed only at two places:
Botany Bay and Cooktown. He knew nothing about the vast inland. However, Cook did know that Aborigines inhabited the land all along the coast because he had seen them, or at least their fires. How, then, could he now say that all this territory belonged to Britain? Indeed, how could the British government act as if this land belonged to them? How could Britain decide, in 1788, to send its convicts to form a settlement on the land of the Eora tribe without asking them? How, after 1788, could the British government keep, give away or sell not only Eora land but also that of nearly every other Aboriginal tribe in Australia? The simple answer to all of these questions is that the British did not consider Aboriginal people as the rightful owners of this land. New South Wales, as Cook had called it, was regarded as terra nullius. This is legal term, a Latin expression which means 'land belonging to no one'. According to the European view, Aboriginal people may have been on the land first but they did not own it because they did not use the land or show ownership in the same way as Europeans did. Thus Europeans felt free to settle anywhere in Australia, ignoring Aboriginal rights to land they had occupied for thousands of years.