By Peter Wilkins


The first settlers arrived at Sydney Cove in 1788 aboard 11 ships, now known as the First Fleet. These were Supply (armed storeship), Sirius (Flagship), Alexander (transport and biggest ship), Borrowdale (storeship) Friendship (transport), Golden Grove (storeship), Charlotte (transport), Lady Penrhyn (transport), Scarborough (transport), Prince of Wales (transport) and Fishburn (storeship). There were some 1,500 persons on board when the ships left Portsmouth in England on the 13th of May 1787 and arrived 252 days later at Botany Bay on the 18th and 19th of January 1788. The site proved unsuitable due to lack of fresh water and sandy soil for cropping, and they moved north into Port Jackson (Sydney Harbour) where they first set foot on the shore on the 26th of January, now commemorated as Australia Day.
The passengers consisted of 759 convicts, their Marine guards, some with families, the Governor, (then Commodore) Arthur Phillip, Lieutenant King, civilians, tradesmen, surgeons and religious leaders.
Lieutenant King was appointed Governor of Norfolk Island and sailed for there on the Supply on the 14th February with around 20 persons including male and female convicts and a surgeon Mr. Jameson.
Slowly supplies were taken ashore, trees were felled and land cleared, livestock were enclosed and a garden was established on Garden Island in the harbour.
Great interest and some antipathy was shown by aboriginals, some of whom visited the camp. On the 2nd of March some convicts were attacked by natives, on the 9th of March a man was found in the bush stripped of his clothes by the natives and on the 5th of May the bodies of two male convicts were brought into the camp having been murdered by aboriginals. There is a misconception that aboriginals did not contest the occupation of Australia. However, many examples exist of clashes, ambushes and murder of settlers and explorers by natives. The facts probably point more to attempts to defend their territories with crude weaponry against overwhelming odds. In 1789 Governor Phillip was speared in the shoulder by an aboriginal.
The early days of the new settlement were chaotic. Prisoners were punished for getting into the womens camp, pilfering, escaping and insurrection. Punishment was usually adminstered with 100 lashes or so but there were also executions for severe misdemeaners. On the 27th of February a prisoner, James Barrett was executed for theft.
By the end of February construction of some solid structures began including a house for High Bailiff James Smith and the settlement extended west to take in what is now Parramatta. In 1790 the Second Fleet of 4 ships arrived bringing more prisoners, badly needed supplies and a detachment for the NSW Corps which had been established in 1789. Sydney was affected by food shortages and there had been outbreaks of disease including a smallpox epidemic amongst the aboriginals.
In March of 1791 the first land grant of 30 acres was made at Parramatta to ex-convict James Ruse who established a farm. In May a military barracks was also built at Parramatta and a track was established from Sydney for more reliable access. Another 11 convict ships arrived throughout 1791 now called the Third Fleet.
In the following year Governor Phillip left the colony and Lieutenant-Governor Francis Grose became Administrator of the Colony until 1794 when he was replaced by Captain William Paterson of the NSW Corps.
Sydney now comprised several thousand people and in 1793 the first free settlers arrived from England and the first sheep were landed. Among the arrivals was John Macarthur who received a grant of 100 acres near Parramatta and established Elizabeth Farm House on it. He was to became one of the colony's leading landowners and a controversial political agitator.
Governor John Hunter arrived in Sydney in 1795.
The colony continued to grow with regular arrivals of convicts and settlers. Many convicts were provided with Ticket-of-Leave status; some married, and some established businesses and farms and the territory around Sydney and Parramatta expanded. Richmond and Windsor became the farming areas providing food for the settlement and in 1799 the first coal was exported from the Hunter Valley north of Sydney.
In 1800 the first copper coins were issued and in September Captain Philip Gidley King replaced Hunter as Governor. The first newspaper the 'Sydney Gazette' was published in 1803 and a postal service began between Sydney and Parramatta.


The island state of Tasmania is located some 200 kilometres south of the mainland of Australia and is Australia's smallest state (68,000 sq. km.), measuring only some 250 kilometres from north to south and east to west at its broadest points. It takes its name from Abel Tasman who first charted the island in 1642 and originally named it Van Diemens Land.
In 1803 it was decided a second Australian settlement was needed. The French were milling about in the south of the continent and it was feared they may land and claim Tasmania for the French.
Lieutenant John Bowen was sent with a landing party to establish a settlement at Risdon Cove. As in New South Wales, the site selected proved unsuitable and the party moved across the Derwent River to the present site of Hobart in 1804. A further settlement followed in the north of the state at George Town by Lieutenant Paterson. This also later moved to establish Launceston which was more suitable.
Tasmania was primarily established as a penal settlement to house prisoners from the United Kingdom and much of this early penal history can be seen around the state.
Macquarie Island on the west coast (1822-33) which housed a total of 1155 prisoners in harsh, cold conditions, Maria Island on the east coast (1825-32) opposite Triabunna, and Port Arthur on the Tasman Peninsula were established as a penal stations and from 1830 convicts were diverted to Port Arthur until transportation of all convicts ceased in 1853.


Early European exploration of Victoria began in 1798 when George Bass sailed through Bass Strait proving that Tasmania was not joined to mainland Australia. He was followed in 1802 by Lieutenant John Murray in the Lady Nelson who actually entered Port Phillip Bay and sailed around. Shortly after, Matthew Flinders arrived and climbed Arthur's Seat and the You Yangs mountains and observed the area.
In 1803 a convict settlement was established near Sorrento on the eastern shore of the bay near The Heads but was abandoned after a short time. Interest in this area waned until Hamilton Hume and William Hovell reached a spot near Geelong on an overland expedition from Sydney and reported fertile grazing and agricultural land.
The first settlers were the Henty Brothers who established properties near Portland in the far west of the state and moved inland towards Casterton and Mt Gambier in South Australia.
The good reports encouraged John Batman, who was based in northern Tasmania to bring a small party across the Strait and create a settlement. They first landed at Indented Head on the western shore but later moved to the present site of Melbourne in 1835.
By 1838 an overland mail service was established between the new settlement and Sydney and agriculture had begun with vineyards near Yarra Glen. At this time Victoria was still a part of New South Wales and in 1851 it was formerly separated from New South Wales and took its present name. Captain Charles LaTrobe was appointed as Lieutenant Governor and the state began to develop slowly.
In 1851 gold was discovered near Clunes, 120km north west of Melbourne and one of the biggest gold rushes in history began, transforming the state from a sleepy little outpost to a thriving destination attracting fortune hunters from all corners of the earth. The gold mined from Clunes, Ballarat, and the surrounding regions proved to be the largest gold deposits ever found. Gold is still mined in Stawell and Bendigo today and occasionally large nuggets are found close to the surface. Two of the largest nuggets ever discovered anywhere were mined in the Goldfields area of Victoria.
The government saw this new found wealth as a cash cow for development of the state. Mining licenses were introduced to the goldfields and, while they were affordable to those gaining gold for their efforts, the majority of the miners hardly made a living on the diggings. The discord on the goldfields festered until in 1854 disgruntled miners rebelled against the system resulting in the Eureka Stockade confrontation, the only example of public armed rebellion in Australia's history.
It did however result in elections and in 1855 William Haines became the first premier of the new Victorian parliament.
Charles Sturt opened up th River System and allowed for paddle steamers to ply the Murray, Murrumbidgee and Darling Rivers transporting passengers, livestock and produce to ports in South Australia for shipment around the country and overseas.
The Chaffey brothers from Canada came to Mildura and designed irrigation systems which opened up the harsher areas of the Victorian Outback to fruit production and Major Thomas Mitchell explored much of the state pointing out and recording areas suitable for agriculture and grazing.
As the smallest mainland state in Australia, and with the second highest population, Victoria should be a rich area with high productivity. It is only 1,000 km from side to side and around 400km north to south at its deepest point. It has a massive natural harbour, plenty of water, and the LaTrobe Valley is a large electricity producing region.
Melbourne was host to the 1956 Olympics and it is a sports mad state with AFL football at the core. This is an Australian game developed here and now played nationally.
There are ski fields, stark areas of coastline and attractive forests and mountains.
The Murray River creates most of the northern boundary with New South Wales and there are many 'twin' towns on either side of the river. It is also the northern terminal of the ferry to Tasmania.


Adelaide was founded in 1836 with a proclamation under a gum tree at Glenelg, now a seaside suburb west of the city.
The handful of settlers who had arrived on the HMS Buffalo after a brief stay on Kangaroo Island established the only Free Settlers settlement in Australia, a fact boasted by South Australian's who claim no convict heritage.
By November 1837 there were some 2,500 new settlers in the new colony, and by May 1841 nearly 2,000 buildings around Adelaide with a population of nearly 15,000.
The first governor, Governor Hindmarsh, left South Australia on 14th. July, 1838 and on August 19th. 1840, new Governor, John Gawler, and his Executive Council, passed the 'Municipal Council Act', paving the way for the election of a City Corporation, or Council.
On the 31st. of October 1840, elections were held. James Fisher was elected the first mayor from the 22 elected representatives, but the ill-fated council lasted little more than a year, and slid into oblivion due to a depressed economy, general lack of interest, and the autocratic attitude of another new governor, George Grey, who replaced Gawler in May 1841; The new colony was floundering.
The discovery of silver in the Adelaide Hills in 1841, and copper, near Kapunda in 1842, and a massive lode at Burra in 1845, saw the beginnings of a turn-around in the economy. Hard working German immigrants who settled at Hahndorf and in the Barossa Valley, were turning the soil to good use and there was an adequate supply of fresh fruit, vegetables, and dairy products. The discovery of gold in New South Wales in 1851, and in Victoria shortly after, affected the new colony in many ways. Firstly, there was a mass exodus of the male population to the goldfields. Some 20,000 men headed east to seek their fortune amid stories of gold nuggets the size of a mans hand lying around for the picking. Ballarat and Bathurst became the catch-cry, and the streets of Adelaide were often deserted. In his excellent book, 'Adelaide, A sense of difference', author Derek Whitelock reports
" For a period, the situation was critical, There were only three active men left in the town of Gawler. The Burra mine was forced to close as the Cornish miners decamped..."
Those who remained however, prospered. Demand from the goldfields for grain and other produce forced prices up, and the price of grain and basics soared. As miners returned flush with cash and gold from the diggings, business confidence returned and Adelaide's future was secure.
In 1845, Governor Grey was replaced by Major Frederick Robe. Grey went on to govern New Zealand and, although unpopular at first because of his autocratic and arbitrary attitude, was given a warm send-off by the citizens of Adelaide. He governed through a period of great difficulty for the fledgling colony, and, although luck had a fair bit to do with it, left Adelaide in a better condition to which he found it. Robe was unpopular and ineffectual, and was little missed after he left in 1848 to be replaced by Sir Henry Fox Young
It was under Governor Sir Henry Young that South Australia was to receive its first formal parliament.
In 1850 the Australian Colonies Government Act was passed in Whitehall. South Australia was to have its own government consisting of a Legislative Council to comprise twenty-four members, sixteen elected by the people, four officials, and four non-officials appointed by the governor. The new Council established its own constitution providing for the Legislative Council, and a lower house to be called the House of Assembly comprising thirty six members elected from different districts. The new constitution was approved in the British Parliament in 1856 and elections for the new parliament were held in 1857. Under the Constitution the absolute powers of the governor were also curbed, and the role would become more of a figure-head, a role which the office retains today.
Governor Young also set up, then abolished, the City Commission, comprising five nominated administrators, to allow for the re-establishment of the City Corporation. On the 1st. of June, 1852, a new council of four aldermen and twelve councillors was formed. Fisher was again appointed Mayor, but later resigned to join the Legislative Council.
Adelaide found itself in an unique location. It is approximately halfway west to east and it became a centre for exploration into the interior where many believed there was a vast inland sea. Charles Sturt had navigated the large river systems which flow into the Murray River and reach the sea south of Adelaide at Goolwa. Settlers had moved into the hinterland and farms were being established north, south and west of the city. In the far north stations like Beltana near Hawker became stepping off points for excursions into the interior. A route to the north to connect the country with Java and the international telegraph network became a priority. In 1863, on his third attempt, John McDouall Stuart reached the shore of the Arafura Sea near Darwin and opened up a route for the line which also provided a series of telegraph stations along the line through which adventurers and settlers could move north out of the more fertile southern ection of the state.
Edward John Eyre had blazed a trail west across the Nullarbor Plain, a hostile desert region, and opened up a route to the west and Perth.
The founders of this fair city are remembered well in its place names and statuary. The most worthy are George Fife Angas, Colonel William Light, Edward Wakefield, James Fisher, Gawler, Hindmarsh, Grey, Henry Ayers and Young. Their hard work, expertise and foresight has made Adelaide one of the most beautiful and comfortable cities to live in in the world. Its citizens are proud and active, and look forward to increasing prosperity based on the solid foundations of their fore-fathers.

The Overland Telegraph Line.