Australia’s European Settlers: The First Fleet

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Many Australians have a special place in their hearts for old sailing ships. These people can trace their lineage back to the First Fleet of 1788. But, few of their relatives came to Oz willingly. Once America had won its war of independence, England needed to find a new place to dump the ne’er do wells filling up British prisons. Hundreds of convicts were given a one-way ticket to Australia and the chance to earn their freedom by working off their debt to society in the new land.

Life aboard these ships wasn’t much better than jail. The passengers endured lice, rats, spoiled food and cramped quarters. Due to poor weather throughout the eight-month journey and no change of clothes, they were rarely allowed on deck to exercise, enjoy some fresh air and look at the sky. Things didn’t improve much when they landed near Sydney.

While some people point with pride to how their relatives came to Australia, others are a bit sheepish. However, they all seem happy to call the Land Down Under home.