Tales From the First Fleet

The State Library's First Fleet Collection includes journals, letters, drawings, maps and charts created by those who actually travelled with the First Fleet. It is one of the Library’s most significant and valuable collections.

These powerful eyewitness accounts not only tell us about how the British viewed Port Jackson and its inhabitants, they also record the hopes and ambitions of the First Fleeters, their feelings of homesickness and despair, along with detailed descriptions of the unfamiliar natural environment.

These observations also provide a glimpse into the Indigenous communities living in the Port Jackson area. Several journals record words from the local language groups and lengthy descriptions of the people, their daily pursuits of fishing, hunting and their responses to the new arrivals.

> Read fascinating selections from the iconic First Fleet journals

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Explore the maps and artworks depicting the establishment of the British colony in New South Wales. Trace the development of the Sydney settlement; the cultivation of the land and the assignment of English names for landmarks and locations.

Detail from Entrance of Port Jackson by William Bradley, Watercolour Safe 1/14

Detail from Sydney Cove, Port Jackson, 1788 by William Bradley

Watercolour Safe 1/14

Navigate to these digitised items via the left-hand menu and delve deeper into the Library's collection via links to the Library's catalogues and further resources in the Discover More feature. 

> View the complete First Fleet collection, via the Library's online catalogue Opens in a new window

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From Terra Australis to Australia

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Made possible through a partnership with John T Reid Charitable Trusts and Thyne Reid Foundation - UNESCO Memory of the World