Jaydon's Historical Studies About The Sydney Cove Colony LA13

Sydney cove colony


On 18 January 1788 the First Fleet arrived at Botany Bay, which Joseph Banks had declared suitable for a penal colony after he returned from a journey there in 1770.

Captain Arthur Phillip, the fleet's commander, brought a small party of marines and seamen ashore, but found the location unsuitable because the harbour was unsafe and the area lacked fresh water. (The Oxford Companion to Australian History).

The fleet then relocated to Port Jackson. On 21 January 1788 Phillip, with a party of officers and marines, landed at an unnamed place, believed to be the beachfront at Camp Cove (known as 'cadi' to the local Cadigal people). This occasion marks the first landing of members of the First Fleet within Port Jackson, and the first known European landing in Sydney Harbour.

After moving further into the harbour, on 26 January 1788 Phillip raised the British flag at Sydney Cove. 751 convicts and their children disembarked, along with 252 marines and their families.

Two more convict fleets arrived in 1790 and 1791, and the first free settlers arrived in 1793. From 1788 to 1823, the Colony of New South Wales was officially a penal colony comprised mainly of convicts, soldiers and the wives of soldiers.

The early convicts were all sent to the colony, but by the mid-1800s they were also being sent directly to destinations such as Norfolk Island, Van Diemen's Land, Port Macquarie and Moreton Bay.

Twenty per cent of these first convicts were women. The majority of women convicts, and many free women seeking employment, were sent to the 'female factories' as unassigned women. The female factories were originally profit-making textile factories. The Parramatta Factory grew as an enclave for pregnant women and also served as an orphanage from the 1830s.

Inquiry questions:

Why did Captain Arthur Phillip think that Botany Bay was unsuitable? Captain Phillip thought that Botany Bay was unsuitable because the harbour was unsafe and the area lacked fresh water.

How much people were in your colony? 1306. 550 were officers/marines/ship crew and their families and 756 were convicts.

What happened if you tried escaping your colony?

What was life like in Sydney Cove?

Why was the Colony called the Sydney Cove Colony?

Timeline of New South Wales 1788-1861

A timeline outlining the events and governors from the settlement of Sydney Cove in 1788 to 1861, to the end of Sir William Thomas Denison's term in office.

A photograph of the New South Wales Parliament.

1788 - 1792

The colony established

On the 26th of January, 1788, the British colony of New South Wales was established in Sydney Cove. Primarily convicts, the settlers struggled to grow crops in the poor soil, with their little knowledge of agriculture and inadequate tools compounding the problem. The discovery of prime farming land along the fertile banks of the Parramatta River provided hope for the settlers.

Governor Arthur Phillip

The first Governor of the penal colony was Arthur Phillip. Holding supreme authority over the European inhabitants, his role was to maintain the military government of the settlement.

1792 - 1794


Private farmers and merchants were encouraged to import goods. Government farming and control of imports was dropped. People began using commodities such as rum as trading currency due to a shortage of coins.

Major Francis Grose

Grose supported farming within the colony and encouraged trade, contributing to the prosperity of the settlement.

1795 - 1800

Penal settlement or colony?

Only slightly more than half of the colony's population comprised of convicts. This caused problems since the penal settlement relied on convict labour for development. Sheep grazing commences. Coal deposits found along the coast allowed for export.

Governor John Hunter

Hunter was set with the task of regaining control of the colony through the stopping of the rum trade. It was a difficult task which eventually led to Hunter being recalled and stripped of his governorship.

1800 - 1806

Controlling imports

The colony became more self-sufficient, needing to rely less on the importing of goods necessary for survival. Flinders circumnavigated the continent and was the first to use the name Australia. A settlement formed at Port Phillip was soon abandoned in favour of Van Diemen's Land.

Governor Philip Gidley King

King aimed to improve the productivity of the colony, through controlling imports and minimising government rations. He re-established the government farms which had been disbanded earlier.

1806 - 1808

The Rum Rebellion

During this time, minimal land grants were given, and few convicts were emancipated. This, combined with the Governor's opposition to military officers profiting from imports caused tension. Farming was encouraged along the Hawkesbury River.

Governor William Bligh

Famously arrested by the military, Governor Bligh had attempted to restore order and rid the colony of spirits as a means of payment. Bligh did have supporters in the colony, such as private merchants and the Hawkesbury settlers, whom he had assisted after severe floods.

1810 - 1821

Restoring Order

An increase in convicts allowed for many public works. In 1820, the population of New South Wales was over 23,000, with the majority being convicts.

Governor Lachlan Macquarie

Macquarie was sent to the colony to restore order, following the rebellion. He encouraged public works which improved the external appearance of the city, Introduced coinage, promoted the idea of a colonial bank and encouraged exploration of new regions.

1821 - 1825

Strengthening the colony

Further exploration of the coast of New South Wales and the surveying of land. A convict settlement was formed on the Brisbane River. John Thomas Bigge published a report on the condition of the colony.

Sir Thomas Brisbane

On the recommendation of Bigge's report, Brisbane introduced the sale of crown land, to encourage the improvement of land by the people who had money to do so. His interest in science assisted in the forming of an agricultural training college, experimentation in the planting of exotic crops, and the building of an observatory at Parramatta.

1825 - 1831

Roads to progress

Van Diemen's Land made a separate colony. Exploration inland was encouraged by the building of roads connecting Sydney to the other settlements within New South Wales.

Sir Ralph Darling

Darling aimed to create order in the growing government departments. He controlled the money used in New South Wales, and prevented officers from using state funds for their own profit. In doing this, he managed to double colonial revenue without increasing taxes.

1831 - 1837

The first non-penal settlement

Migration to New South Wales flourished, and the wealth and importance of the colony increased. The colony of South Australia was formed, being the only colony not founded as a penal settlement.

Sir Richard Bourke

Bourke's government provided assistance for migrants emigrating from London to Australia. With an increase in the population of the colony, Bourke saw the need for government-run and funded schools.

1838 - 1846

Myall Creek

Abolition of penal transportation to New South Wales. The Myall Creek Massacre saw twenty-eight Indigenous Australians murdered. Seven settlers were tried and charged for the crime.

Sir George Gipps

Gipps encouraged migration to Australia, through the incentive of free passage. During his time, the population of NSW doubled to 0ver 190,000. Gipps ensured that the European settlers responsible for the Myall Creek Massacre were put to trial.

1846 - 1855


Transportation recommenced, with male convicts sent out to the colony but was abandoned soon after. Port Phillip was separated from New South Wales to form Victoria, and Western Australia became a penal settlement. Gold was discovered in many parts of the continent.

Sir Charles Augustus FitzRoy

FitzRoy spent time travelling beyond the Blue Mountains, in order to learn more about the land and the issue of squatters. In 1950, he was appointed Governor-General of the Australian colonies.

1855 - 1861

Responsible Government

Responsible government introduced, meaning that political leaders must be able to explain their decisions to the parliament. Queensland formed, re-introduction of transportation, even though it was unpopular. Van Diemen's Land renamed to Tasmania. Sydney branch of the Royal Mint opened.

Sir William Thomas Denison

Denison did much to further develop the colony's infrastructure, in the areas of defence, transport and education. He encouraged agriculture, and wished to see the colony's continued prosperity.

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