Botany Bay, Australia

18 to 20 January 1788

Watercolour painting of ships entering Botany Bay.

Botany Bay. 'Sirius & convoy going in: Supply & agents division in the bay. 21 Janry 1788.' William Bradley, watercolour from his journal ‘A Voyage to New South Wales’, 1802+. State Library of New South Wales, [Safe 1 / 14].

HMS Supply reached Botany Bay on 18 January. Alexander, Scarborough and Friendship arrived the next day, followed by the rest of the Fleet on 20 January. Under instructions to quickly establish the settlement, Phillip wasted no time in judging Botany Bay an unsuitable location. Within days of the fleet’s arrival he had explored Port Jackson and determined that its deep harbour and supply of fresh water made a ‘fitter place’ for the new settlement.

On 25 January Phillip sailed to Port Jackson in Supply, the rest of the fleet unable to follow until the next day. According to some accounts, disaster was only narrowly avoided, with a number of the ships colliding as they made their way out of Botany Bay. Surgeon Arthur Bowes Smyth on board Lady Penrhyn described the chaotic scene:

The Friendship & Prince of Wales … came foul of each other & the Friendship carried away her Jib Boom ----The Prince of Wales had her New Mainsail & Main topmast staysail rent in pieces by the Friendship. The Charlotte also afterwards ran foul of the Friendship & carried away a great deal of the Carv’d work for (the Charlotte’s) Stern & it was wt. the greatest difficulty our Ship avoided the same fate …

By the evening of 26 January 1788 the entire fleet was safely anchored in the harbour of Port Jackson. The small cove chosen for the settlement, named Warrane by the local Aboriginal people, was renamed Sydney Cove by Governor Phillip.

The voyage