Arthur Phillip, a career Naval officer, gained a considerable reputation when seconded to the Spanish Navy, and returning to England enhanced it by his work as a spy sent by the British Government to report on French naval establishments. He was not altogether happy to be chosen to pilot a fleet of ships burdened with convicts to the then obscure land of New South Wales, and to govern a colony there. He rose to the occasion brilliantly: the First Fleet arrived safely and with relatively few losses: Philip, a humanitarian, was desolated by the carnage among the Second and Third Fleets, with men and women lost to disease.
Scorning the useless Botany Bay (the chosen site suggested by the British Government) he discovered Port Jackson, the largest and most handsome harbour in the world, and chose the site for Sydney, over the next years presiding over the growth of the convict settlements and the farms of free settlers, exploring the land, and valiantly attempting to establish good relations with the Aborigines. His great achievements went largely unrecognised by a British Government uninterested in Australia except as a dumping-ground for convicts, but he remains by far the most important figure in the establishment of Australia.
Arthur Phillip: Australia’s first Governor (Woodslane, 978-1-921683-48-0)
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