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A direct north general view of Sydney Cove, the chief British settlement in New South Wales as it appeared in 1794, being the 7th year from its establishment. Painted immediately from nature by T. Watling

From Terra Australis to Australia

In May 1787 the British government sent the First Fleet 20,000 kilometres around the world to establish a  British colony in New South Wales.

Mutiny on the bounty

The tale of the mutiny on the Bounty remains one of the most intriguing stories of adventure on the high seas more than 200 years after the ill fated voyage that made Captain Bligh and Fletcher Christian legends. 

 

Bound for Tahiti, the Bounty sailed from Spithead, England on 23 December 1787 under the famous Captain William Bligh. This was Bligh's second visit to Tahiti and he had many friends on the island. The Bounty stayed in Tahiti nearly six months. Having completed her mission to collect breadfruit trees from the colony, she set sail but the crew was dispirited at leaving such an easy life behind.

[William Bligh, ca. 1814 - watercolour on ivory miniature]

The Bounty was underway to the West Indies when, on the morning of 28 April 1789, Fletcher Christian and part of the crew mutinied. He set the captain and 18 members of the crew adrift in the ship's cutter.

Bligh was a master seaman who had previously navigated for Captain James Cook. He managed to sail the tiny vessel almost four thousand miles to Timor.

Christian and the mutineers took the Bounty back to Tahiti and then, with six Polynesian men and twelve women, sailed the ship to Pitcairn Island where they burnt it at sea. After this desperate beginning, they established a colony that remains to this day, settled by the descendents of the Bounty mutineers and their Tahitian wives.

 

William Bligh's Log Book

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William Bligh's Mementos

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The Mutineers turning Lieut. Bligh and part of the officers and crew adrift from his Majesty's Ship the Bounty / painted and engraved by Robert Dodd

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