Join the Friends on the 26th January at the Laperouse Museum – 2pm-4pm – to commemorate the landing of members of the Laperouse expedition as well as the encounter with the First Fleet.
from The Journal of Jean François de Galaup, comte de Lapérouse (translated by John Dunmore, Hakluyt Society 1995: 446-448) a description of the first encounter.
….we were affected by currents which took us each day fifteen minutes south of our reckoning so that we spent the 24th tacking in view of Botany Bay without being able to round Solander Point which bore north from us one league, from which the winds blew strongly and our ships were not good enough sailers to beat both the strength of the wind and the currents at the same time; but on that day we beheld a spectacle which was quite novel for us since the day we left Manila, that of an English fleet at anchor inside Botany Bay, of which we would see the flags and pennants.
Europeans are all compatriots at such a great distance and we were most impatient to reach the anchorage; but the weather was so foggy the next day that we were unable to see the land, and we only reached the anchorage on the 26th at nine o’clock in the morning. I dropped anchor one mile from the northern coast athwart the second bay in seven fathoms of good grey sand. As I was entering the pass an English lieutenant and michikmane[midshipman] were sent to my ship by Captain Honter[John Hunter] commanding the King of England’s frigate Sirius and they offered on his behalf all the assistance he could give, adding however that circumstances allowed him to give us neither food nor munitions nor sails. And since they were on the point of weighing anchor to go further north their kind remarks amounted merely to good wishes for the ultimate success of our voyage.
I sent an officer to carry my thanks to Captain Honter whose anchor was already apeak and whose topsails were already hoisted; my message was that our needs were limited to wood and water, which we would have no difficulty in obtaining in this bay, and that I knew ships given the task of establishing a colony such a great distance from Europe could be of no assistance to navigators. We learned from the lieutenant that the English fleet was commanded by Commodore Philip who had sailed the day before from Botany Bay in the corvettte Spey[Supply] with four transport vessels to go north and seek a more suitable place for his settlement. The English lieutenant seemed to be creating a great deal of mystery around Commodore Philip’s future plan and we did not permit ourselves to ask any questions on this subject, but we could have no doubt that the planned establishment was very near Botany Bay since several boats and longboats were already putting up their sails to go there, the ships not considering it worthwhile hoisting them aboard for such a short journey and soon sailors from the English boat, less discreet than their officer, told ours that they were only going to Port Jackson 16 miles north of Bancs Point[Cape Banks] where Commodore Phillip had personally investigated a very good harbour running ten miles towards the south-west. Vessels could anchor within a pistol shot of the shore in waters as calm as those of a basin. Later we had only too many opportunities of obtaining news of the English establishment whose deserters caused us a great deal of trouble and inconvenience as we will explain in the next chapter.
Illustration by Chris Grosz from The Monthly; painting of Captain Hunter by William Mineard Bennet (1788—1858)
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