How fortunate we are to have journals, diaries, letters, reports and logbooks written by officers who arrived with Captain Arthur Phillip in 1788. Without these scribes our knowledge of the voyage, the settlement, and its people would have passed into history unknown.
- David Blackburn (1753–1795) HMS Supply, Master
A party of gentlemen with their servants and 4 soldiers were walking to Botany Bay … met with a body of 300 natives all armed with spears and targets. They did not seem too feel their superiority but walked out of the track of our people and let them pass without showing any mischevious intention.
6 June 1788
- William Bradley (1757–1833) HMS Sirius, First Lieutenant, R.N.
The carpenter was employed fixing new skirting boards under the whalers .. while the ship was on the heel the white composition bolts and nails which had been driven for experiment at Rio de Janiero were found to be much decayed, being eaten into the copper. Some of the iron bolts in the butts also examined and found but little touched, 29 April 1788
- James Campbell (- 1785?) Transport Lady Penrhyn, Captain of Marines
.. but I am myself fully convinced that the nation would save money by feeding their convicts at home, upon venison & claret, clothing them in purple & gold, rather than provide them here (Sydney Cove) the worst fare that can be thought of. 12 July 1788
- Ralph Clark (– 1794) Transport Friendship, Second Lieutenant, Marines
..in all of the course of my life I have never slept worse, than I did last night. What with the hard cold ground, Spiders, Ants and every vermin that you could think of crawling over me; I was never more glad than when the morning came.
31 January 1788
- David Collins (1756–1818), HMS Sirius, Judge Advocate
Exemplary punishments seemed during June to be growing daily more necessary. Stock was often killed, huts and tents broken open and provisions constantly stolen … daily routine continued in the ‘Sirius’. 30 June 1788
…as soon as a sufficient quantity of bricks can be made, a stone church is to be built and named St Phillip’s after the governor. 11 September 1788
- John Easty Transport Scarborough, Private in the Marines
This night about half past 8 o’clock I was confined by Serjeant Hume for bringing a feameale convict into camp. 8 March 1788
- John Hunter (1737–1821) HMS Sirius, Naval Captain
When only a few days out we sprung a serious leak – knowing how serious the food situation is back at the colony, I have decided to push on making what repairs I can at sea – we will have to pump continuously. 4 October 1788 aboard HMS Sirius
Scurvy has broken out. The ship is ill-found. The only anti-scorbutic on board is a little essence of malt. There is only twelve men left in each watch and they are so enfeebled as to be almost useless… This will be a brave voyage indeed.
5 October 1788 aboard HMS Sirius
- Richard Johnson (1755–1827) Store Ship Golden Grove, Chaplain
No church is yet begun and is scarcely thought of; other things seem to be of greater notice & concern & most would rather see a Tavern, a Playhouse, a Brothel – anything sooner than a place for publick worship. 14 November 1788
- Philip Gidley King (1758–1808) HMS Sirius and HMS Supply, Second Lieutenant R.N.
Never has so great a difficulty been had in attempting to enter a bay, for today there was not a breeze sufficiently strong to rundown the distance to Botany Bay. 14 January 1788
- Arthur Phillip (1738–1814) HMS Sirius and HMS Supply, Commander in Chief and Governor
Very heavy gales – violent tumbling seas – as ‘Supply’ fights her way into the New Year, our position being close to the southern tip of Van Diemen’s Land. To understand the conditions a remark by Clark .. ‘Oh I wish I had never come .. New Year’s Day, hard salt beef and musty pancakes’.
1 January 1788
On shore today we had people from the ‘Supply’ ‘Friend-Ship’, ‘Scarborough’ and ‘Alexander’ hurriedly cut grass for the remaining stock, catch fish for the humans, make peace with the natives and try to find running water and good soil for a land base, but none seemed suitable. 20 January 1788
Yultide is almost upon us and my hope is by no means exhausted despite the difficulties met with; given time, and additional force, together with proper people for cultivating the land .. I know that I can make a nation. 23 December 1788
- Robert Ross (1740-1794) HMS Sirius and Transport Scarborough, Major of Marines
.. as I have ever since my arrival here, entered my son, John Ross, as a volunteer, serving without pay would you do me the honour of appointing him to the vacancy in the detachment. 9 July 1788
- James Scott (- 1796) Transport Prince of Wales, Sergeant of Marines
Merradeth’s companies’ grogg was stopped by Major Ross for 7 days, for some reason, nevertheless it reflected the growing tensions between the marines. 13 November 1788
- Arthur Bowes Smyth (1750-1790) Transport Lady Penrhyn, Surgeon
The steward of ‘Golden Grove’ killed a large snake among rushes in a swampy place. It was nearly as big as my arm, up-wards of 8 ft long, a very wide mouth with two rows of sharp pointed teeth in the upper jaw and two in the under one. It was very dark colour .. with large bright yellow spots.
1 April 1788
- David Southwell (1766-1797) HMS Sirius, Able Seaman
..the ‘Golden Grove’ stood out at day break. At 6, weighed with a fine breezes. We now took our depart from the entrance of Port Jackson.
2 October 1788.
- Watkin Tench (1758–1833) Transport Charlotte, Captain Lieutenant of Marines
… it is impossible to behold without emotion the departure of the first fleet of ships For Europe. On their speedy arrival in England perhaps hangs our fate; by hastening supplies to us. 14 July 1788
- John White (1756–1832) Transport Charlotte, Naval Surgeon
The ‘Alexander, Friendship’ and ‘Prince of Wales’ with the ‘Borrowdale’ prepared to sail for England. The ‘Supply’ to sail at the same time for Norfolk Island … There is no less than thirty one long letters in the different ships. 13 July 1788
- George Bouchier Worgan (1757–1838) HMS Sirius, Naval Surgeon
The criminal court sat .. two men were charged with feloniously, with force of arms, stealing 20 pounds weight of goat’s flesh, of the value of ten shillings … and the next day two more persons were charged with stealing 12 pounds weight of the said goat’s flesh. 2 June 1788
Cobley, John Sydney Cove 1788
Gillen, Mollie The Founders of Australia
Gordon, Harry Bicentennial, The Australian Mosiac and 1788 Diary
King, Jonathan The First Fleet, The Convict Voyage that founded Australia 1787-88