Hundreds of additional titles available for
online reading when you join Gateway to the Classics
THE FOUNDING OF SYDNEY
 AFTER Cook sailed away the great island-continent was left
once again to silent loneliness. Cook made other voyages,
but did not discover much more of Australia, and for
many years few white men touched upon the shores of
the Great South Land.
Then came the war in which Britain lost all her
American colonies. It was a great loss, how great at
the time perhaps few knew. But in one way the loss
soon began to be felt.
The British in those days instead of keeping evil-doers in prison at home, used to send them to work upon
the farms or plantations in America. When America
was no longer a part of the British Empire, convicts, as
such evil-doers were called, could not be sent there. The
prisons at home became full to overflowing. Something
had to be done, and at last it was decided to make use of
New South Wales and found a colony there to which
convicts might be sent.
So on 13th May 1787, the "First Fleet," as it afterwards
came to be called by Australians, sailed out on its
long voyage. In the eight or ten ships there were about
a thousand people. Nearly eight hundred of these were
convicts, both men and women, the rest were soldiers and
marines to guard them.
 With the fleet, as Governor-General of the new
colony, went Captain Arthur Phillip.
On the way out the ships stopped at Teneriffe and
at Cape Town, where the Dutch Governor received them
kindly. Here they took aboard so many cocks and hens,
sheep and cattle, that the ships looked more like Noah's
arks than anything else.
In June 1788 the new colonists arrived at Botany
Bay, where it had been decided to found the colony. But
Captain Phillip did not think it a good place, and went
exploring in a small boat further north until he found the
beautiful Jackson Bay.
Here Captain Phillip decided to found the new colony.
He landed and set up the Union Jack, and gathering
round the flagstaff, he and his officers drank to the king's
health, and to the success of the colony.
The convicts were landed, the soldiers were drawn up
in line, guns were fired, and Captain Phillip made a speech
to the convicts. He told them that now under a new
sky, in a new home, they had once again a chance to
forget their evil ways, and begin a new life. Once again
they had a chance to prove themselves good British
subjects. This was the first speech in the English
language that had ever been made in that far-off land,
and when Captain Phillip had finished, a British cheer
Thus the city of Sydney was founded.
Now began a busy time. The stillness of that silent
land was broken for ever. All day long the woods rang
with the sound of the axe. All day long the ring of
hammer and anvil was heard, the tinkle of the mason's
trowel, the sighing of the carpenter's saw. There was
everything to do. There were houses to build, roads to
cut, harbours to make. The land had first to be cleared
 of trees, and wood and stone had to be quarried and
hewn for building. With all this to do, there was little
time left for farming.
Besides, among the soldiers, and sailors, and convicts,
there were no farmers. None among them knew how to
set about the work. The season was dry, the seed which
was sown did not sprout, or was eaten by rats, and there
was little or no harvest. The sheep and cattle died, or
ran away into the forest and were seen no more.
Soon the food which had been brought from home
grew scarce, and the promised ships which were to bring
more, did not appear. The little colony began to starve.
Convicts and freemen alike grew gaunt and pale. The
governor himself knew what it meant to go hungry, for
he would not fare better than the others, and he gave
up his private stores for the use of all. "If any convict
complains," he said, "let him come to Government House,
and he will see that we are no better off there."
Hollow-cheeked and faint, every man looked eagerly,
longingly, out to sea, straining weary eyes to catch a
glimpse of a white sail upon the blue waste of water.
Day after day passed. No sail appeared. Little work
was done, for men who are always hungry cannot work.
The colonists had brought food for two years. Now
three had passed, and still no help came from home.
With hundreds and hundreds of miles between them and
Britain, they seemed to be cast away and forgotten.
They knew nothing of what was happening in the world.
They had no means of knowing if they were really forgotten, or if some mischance had befallen the ships sent
out to them. There was no way by which they could
send a message home. They could do nothing but wait.
At last one morning a ship came in sight What joy
there was! The women wept, the men cheered.
 Eagerly the colonists crowded round the new arrivals
asking for news of home. They heard with joy that they
had not been utterly forgotten and neglected. Ships
with stores had been sent, but had been wrecked on the
Soon another ship arrived, then another and another,
The long pain of hunger was at an end, and for a time
at least the little colony was saved from starvation. But
famine came upon them again, and at one time things
were so bad that people who were asked to dine at
Government House were told to bring their own bread
With the ships bringing food to the colony came a
regiment of soldiers. They were called the New South
Wales Corps. The Marines and their officers, who had
come out in the "First Fleet," then went home; and
Captain Phillip was not sorry that they should go, for
although they had been sent out to help to keep the
convicts in order, they had themselves been very unruly,
and had added much to the governor's difficulties.
These difficulties were great, for it was no easy matter to
rule a colony made up of wild, bad men, sent there in
punishment of their misdeeds. But, as will be seen, the
New South Wales Corps was not much help to the
In December 1792 Governor Phillip, worn out by
five years of hardship, gave up his post and sailed home.
He was succeeded by Captain Hunter, but until he
arrived the colony was left in the hands of Major Grose,
leader of the New South Wales Corps.
Captain Phillip had been gentle and just. He had
shared every hardship with the colonists, and had tried to
make the convicts better. Grose cared nothing for the
improvement of the convicts, and he was utterly unfit to
 rule. He allowed the soldiers to do as they liked, and
they very soon became wild, riotous, and drunken. They
took everything into their own hands, and soon from
being merely soldiers, they became the merchants and
rulers of the colony. Everything coming into the colony
had to pass through their hands. But the thing they
traded in most, and made most money out of, was rum.
Some free settlers had now come to Sydney, and they
were allowed to have convicts to help them on their
farms. The officers and men of the New South Wales
Corps also took land, and had convict labourers, whom
they paid for their work in rum. The soldiers made
friends of these convicts, and they drank and gambled
together, so that the convicts, instead of becoming
better, became worse, and when Governor Hunter
arrived, he found that all the good that Governor
Phillip had done was destroyed. The whole colony was
filled with riot, disorder, drunkenness, and misery.
Captain Hunter tried to put things right again. He
tried to stop the trade in rum, but he was not strong
enough to do it. The "Rum Corps," as the soldiers came
to be called, had got the upper hand, and they meant to
keep it. So during the whole time of Hunter's rule, he
had to fight the men and officers of the Rum Corps.
This was the darkest time in the whole history of
Australia. But dark though it was, it was now that the
foundation of Australia's greatness in trade was laid.
With the New South Wales Corps there had come out
a Captain John MacArthur. He, like so many others,
received a grant of land, and began farming. He soon
saw that the land was very good for rearing sheep, and
began to turn his attention to them. But whereas others
thought of rearing them for food, he thought of them
for their wooL After a great deal of trouble he got
 "wool-bearing sheep," first from the Cape, and then from
King George's own famous flock of Spanish merino sheep.
At this time the British got most of the wool they
needed for their great factories from Spain. But
Napoleon, who was fighting Britain in every way possible,
now tried to ruin their trade by forbidding all the people
of Europe to trade with them. When they could no
longer get wool from Spain, the British wool trade
began to suffer. Then it was that MacArthur stepped
in. From his sheep-farm he was soon able to send shiploads
of wool to the factories at home, thus preventing
the ruin of British manufactures, and bringing wealth to
Australia. From then till now the industry has grown,
and now millions of pounds' worth of wool are exported