Captain Arthur Phillips First Fleet arriving at Botany Bay 17th January 1788
Drawing by 1st Lieutenant William Bradley of the Sirius.
History often throws up some unexpected parallels, curious coincidences that centuries later warm the heart and remind us that we are all indeed members of the same universal family.
Now if that sounds awfully pompous I do apologise. But it is true, we all belong to the one family, one that was once known simply as ‘mankind’. A word curious in its make up... a kind man... and given the opportunity to meet each other quietly and without fanfare, most of us on this planet would behave in that way. With kindness and consideration to each other.
So I was pleasantly surprised to read about a brief event that took place in the very early days of Australia’s attempt to establish a penal settlement in Botany Bay. An event that involved ships of the then often opposing world powers, France and England, and of the brave men who sailed in them.
You will remember the stories of my convict ancestors, Bryan Spalding, Mary Welch and Samuel Marshall. Ancestors who owed their survival in those early days of convict settlement to the careful management and supervision of Governor Arthur Phillip. A man who most unusually for those times of political appointment turned out to be the right man for a difficult and inhumane task.
( see the ...The Irish Born Convict )
BOTANY BAY 24TH Janury 1788.
The First Fleet of Convict ships have already arrived at their destination, Botany Bay, and despite favourable description made by Captain Cook on an earlier voyage of discovery some few years before was now found to be unsuitable for settlement. With food stocks dwindling at an alarming rate Governor Phillip decides to remove the entire fleet north to Port Jackson where it is hoped conditions will be best suited for the colony.
But now prevailing winds are wreaking havoc on the 11 ships of the fleet as they attempt to make sail. Governor Phillip decides to leave the fleet behind in the care of Captain Hunter on the Sirius to await calmer weather while he takes the smaller vessel the Supply to secure a new landing site in the larger harbour to the north.
In the midst of these efforts English sailors are astonished to sight two French ships holding to off the coast. They will be identified as the La Boussole and L’Astrolabe under the command of the Navigator, Jean-Francois de Galaup La Perouse.
- · The heart broken Eleanor lived on in the family home at Albi in the south of France and survived her husband by only 9 years. The couple were childless.
- · The two most famous sons of Albi are today remembered as La Perouse and the artist Toulouse-Lautrec.
- · The recovered items from Vanikoro are exhibited in the Marine Museum at the Louvre in Paris.
- · Modern day descendents of Captain Dillon, who solved the mystery of the missing ships, continue to this day to live in Sydney.
- · Two memorials have been erected to the memory of the French expedition..one in Albi, the other on the island of Vanikoro.
- · And on a headland overlooking Botany Bay stands an impressive memorial to both La Perouse and the Expedition, and to the French chaplain Father Receveur who died in Botany Bay following injuries he received the previous year in Samoa.