Ship to Shore | State Library of New South Wales

Ship to Shore

Shopping for the First Fleet, the British navy needed to buy enough provisions for the journey, and to last until the first crops were harvested or further supplies bought in.

Landing at Sydney Cove, many were shocked to find themselves in place where there was nothing to buy. Setting up a colony in a country without any existing industry led to long-term reliance on imported goods. Apart from locally foraged perishables, all staples were provided by the government stores.

The arrival of the Second and Third Fleets swelled the amount of trade goods available. After 1792, more merchant ships made Sydney a port of call and, along with free settlers, many emancipated convicts became successful merchants forming a strong core of economic development. Colonists with credit and contacts could also order goods from Britain via friends and family, or increase their wealth through speculation on cargo tailored to the local market.