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What Is the First Fleet?

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The First Fleet What Is the First Fleet? The First Fleet is the name given to the group of people and ships who sailed from the United Kingdom in May 1787 to establish the first European colony in New South Wales. It was a convict settlement, marking the beginnings of transportation to Australia. The fleet of 11 ships was led by Captain (later Admiral) Arthur Phillip. The voyage The departure of the fleet must have been greeted with fear and trepidation by the convicts and marines. They were embarking on the longest voyage ever attempted by such a large group. They were heading for a destination that was little explored by Europeans, and whose conditions were only to be guessed at. Few would have had any confidence in seeing England, their families and friends, ever again. With fine weather the convicts were allowed on deck, and on 3 June 1787 the fleet anchored at Santa Cruz at Tenerife. ...read more.


In the doldrums, Phillip was forced to ration the water to three pints a day. The fleet reached Rio on 5 August and stayed a month. The ships were cleaned and water taken on board, repairs were made, and Phillips ordered large quantities of food for the fleet. The women convicts' clothing, which had become infested with lice, was burned, and the women were issued with new clothes made from rice sacks. While the convicts remained below deck, the officers explored the city and were entertained by its inhabitants. A convict and a marine were punished for passing forged quarter-dollars made from old buckles and pewter spoons. The fleet left Rio on 3 September to run before the westerlies to the Cape of Good Hope, where they arrived in mid October. This was the last port of call, so the main task was to stock up on plants, seeds and livestock for their arrival in Australia. ...read more.


Phillips intended to select a suitable location, find good water, clear the ground, and perhaps even have some huts and other structures built before the others arrived. However, this "flying squadron" reached Botany Bay only hours before the rest of the Fleet, so no preparatory work was possible. On 19 January 1788, the coast of mainland Australia was sighted, and by next morning all the vessels were anchored in Botany Bay. This was one of the world's greatest sea voyages - eleven vessels carrying about 1400 people and stores had travelled for 252 days for more than 15,000 miles (24,000 km) without losing a ship. Forty-eight people had died on the journey, a death rate of just over three per cent. Given the rigours of the voyage, the navigational problems, the poor condition and sea-faring inexperience of the convicts, the primitive medical knowledge, the lack of precautions against scurvy, the crammed and foul conditions of the ships, poor planning and inadequate equipment, this was a remarkable achievement. ?? ?? ?? ?? ...read more.

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