Bound for Botany Bay Bound for Botany Bay

It being the intention of Government at this time, to remove so great a Nuisance & inconvenience as the Country at present Suffer’d from the Goals [sic] being so exceedingly Crouded with Criminals who had been by the Laws Condemn’d to Transportation; the East coast of New Holland was the place determind, upon which to form a settlement for this Salutary purpose … [being] that Country which was discover’d and Explor’d by Captain James Cook in his first Voyage round the World, and by him Calld New South Wales …

Capt. John Hunter, Journal kept on board the Sirius

In 1770 Englishman Lieutenant James Cook charted the previously unclaimed east coast of Australia for King George III of England and, as later noted by Captain John Hunter: ‘Botany Bay… having been mention’d in the Narrative of that Voyage, as a Convenient place for a Settlement, Government fixd upon that place for the intended purpose’.
 
On 13 May 1787 the First Fleet, led by Captain (later Admiral) Arthur Phillip, left England bound for Australia. The fleet comprised 11 ships (two naval escorts, six convict transports, three storeships) and an estimated 1350 people including marines and civil officers, their wives and children, 500–600 male convicts and 170–200 female convicts.
 
By 20 January 1788 the First Fleet was anchored within Botany Bay, although, as Captain John Hunter wrote in his journal: ‘… we found nothing at Botany Bay to recommend it as a place on which to firm an infant Settlement …’

Within days the decision had been made to go to Port Jackson:

This day the Governor return'd from exploring the Coast & determin'd to go to Port Jackson, abt. 5 miles distant from Botany Bay by land, but 10 or 12 by Sea. This is Certainly in the Opinion of everyone one of the finest Harbours in the World … & was the adjacent Country fertile instead of being so barren as it is, it wd. exceed anything yet known.

Arthur Bowes-Smyth, Surgeon, 23 January 1788

Quick Links