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Blog post from Monday, 26 January, 2015

Today is Australia Day, commemorating the arrival of the First Fleet at Port Jackson, Sydney, New South Wales on 26 January 1788.

The First Fleet of convicts left Portsmouth, England on 13 May 1787, and arrived in Botany Bay on 18 January 1788. Captain Arthur Phillip immediately determined that there was insufficient fresh water, an absence of usable timber, poor quality soil and no safe harbour at Botany Bay. Consequently, the settlement was moved to Port Jackson, the fleet arrived on 26 January 1788.

At Port Jackson, the British flag was raised as Governor-in-Chief of New South Wales, Phillip took formal possession on behalf of the British Crown.

Australia Day, celebrated annually on January 26, commemorates the landing of the First Fleet at Port Jackson, and the raising of the Union Jack to claim the land as belonging to England. The first celebrations of the landing of the First Fleet were held in 1791. The first official celebrations were held in 1818, marking the thirtieth anniversary of white settlement.

“The Founding of Australia. By Capt. Arthur Phillip R.N. Sydney Cove, Jan. 26th 1788” / Original [oil] sketch [1937] by Algernon Talmage R.A.

State Library of New South Wales ML1222

There are two finished versions of the painting, for which this is the preliminary oil sketch: In the Tate Gallery, London, the second large version, dated 1938, hangs in Parliament House, Sydney.