Len Kenna 14.04.2015
For most of my life; even as child I studied Australian History and Australian Literature as an interest or hobby. I have also studied Australian History and Australian Archaeology and Australian Historical Archaeology at University and I have never seen a model of the early settlement constructed in any way. So in an attempt to show the involvement of Indian, French, and other nationalities in the early settlement of Australia and to place the role that the English played in the early days in New South Wales into the proper perspective, which is much less than most people realise, I will attempt to correct this omission.
As stated earlier, Governor Phillip and his Officer Corps., returned to England from India to mount the First Fleet. They sailed to Australia in ships that were owned or under the control of the English East India Trading Company, even the warship “Sirius”, the Flag Ship of the First Fleet had been owned by the English East India Trading Company and sold to the English Admiralty. The establishment of the new Colony at New South Wales was chosen as the place for a Settlement only after extensive talks with and agreement from the English East India Trading Company to allow the Settlement to take place. The English East India Trading Company allowed the Settlement to go ahead only after strong economic conditions were put in place to protect their monopoly. So in the early days at least Australia was economically under the control of people in India. Religiously the Settlement was under the control of the Arch Bishop of Calcutta. Military protection for the new Colony was provided by the East India Naval Base at Bombay. After Lord Grenville from the Colonial Office in London, issued his order to supply the Colony from India, India then became an important and reliable source of supplies for the new Colony.
The new Colony consisted of 1030 people, consisting of convict, soldiers and Governor Phillip’s staff.
Just two days after the First Fleet arrived in New South Wales, the French navigator, Commodore La Perouse arrived in Botany Bay with two Vessels, the “Boussole” and the “Astrolabe” and the crew socialised with the members of the First Fleet. Added to this was the fact that Phillip’s man servant was a Frenchman. There was at least one French convict transported on the First Fleet, because the first convict to escape from the Colony was a Frenchman he took with him his English girlfriend. Governor Phillip had purchased grape vine cuttings in South America and after a couple of years the vines were doing poorly and three French prisoners of war were sent to the Colony to work on the vines and to establish vineyards. As a result of this the first vignerons in Australia came from France. One of the Frenchmen was the only cooper in the Colony. A most important position in 18th Century Australia. The first person to die in Australia was a Frenchman; one of La Perouse’s crewmen and is buried in Botany Bay.
For the first few weeks while the First Fleet was unloading and La Perouse’s ships were in Botany Bay, foreign nationals, particularly among the convicts, were mingling freely in the new Settlement. With the mix of races, clear blue skies, and rolling surf, it must have been a colourful and interesting place, particularly after eight long months at sea.
Source: Are Indians an Ethnic Minority? Len Kenna