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Preparing the First Fleet

In 1785 Britain decided to make Australia a British colony. Australia was also going to be a place for Britain to send criminals.

Captain Arthur Phillip (see image 1) commanded the first ships that sailed to Australia. Eleven ships held convicts and supplies. These ships became known as the First Fleet. See image 2

The ships were loaded with supplies that were supposed to last two years, like:

beds and bedding                                             animals
clothes                                                             food
household goods                                               plants and seeds
tools                                                                transport

The journey of the First Fleet

The First Fleet left England on 13 May 1787. The ships went by the Canary Islands, Rio de Janeiro and the Cape of Good Hope.

The ships arrived in Botany Bay on 18 January 1788.

Captain Arthur Phillip was not happy with Botany Bay. He travelled further north to look for a better place. He discovered Port Jackson, which we know as Sydney Harbour. See image 3

Captain Phillip returned to Botany Bay and brought the rest of the fleet to Port Jackson, which he described as the perfect harbour.

The entire journey, from Britain to Port Jackson, took just over eight months.

Who was on the First Fleet?

The eleven ships of the First Fleet carried around 1420 people from Britain to New South Wales. These people included:

Officials                                                           Passengers
Sailors and ship crew members                         Wives and children of marines
Male convicts                                                   Female convicts
Convicts' children

Approximately 42 people died and 40 new babies were born during the 252 day journey of the First Fleet.

See if you can find all the words about the First Fleet in the word find!


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Question 1/5

1. Who commanded the first ships that sailed to Australia?

Captain Arthur Phillip

Captain James Cook

Dirk Hartog

Willem Jansz

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