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Australian History

December 31, 1790 – Enough barley is harvested in the penal colony of New South Wales to alleviate impending starvation


Sydney in 1791

Sydney in 1791

The First Fleet, containing the officers and convicts who would first settle Australia, arrived in Botany Bay on 18 January 1788.

The colony’s Governor, 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.

Thus the fleet was moved to Port Jackson, arriving on 26 January 1788.

The penal colony of New South Wales struggled, but managed to survive largely through the efforts of Governor Phillip.

He was a practical man who had suggested that convicts with experience in farming, building and crafts be included in the First Fleet, but his proposal was rejected.

Phillip faced many obstacles in his attempts to establish the new colony.

The convicts were not skilled in farming, and unwilling to work hard in the intense heat and humidity of Australia.

British farming methods, seeds and implements were unsuitable for use in the different climate and soil, and the colony faced near-starvation in its first two years.

On 31 December 1790, twenty-five bushels of barley were successfully harvested. This went a long way towards alleviating food shortages.

The colony finally succeeded in developing a solid foundation, agriculturally and economically, thanks to the perseverance of Captain Arthur Phillip.

About Craig Hill

Social Justice Campaigner. Business and Education Consultant. Former Business/ESL Teacher. Lived in China and USA. Dealing with disability. My articles have been cited in New York Times, BBC, Fox News, Aljazeera, Philippines Star, South China Morning Post, National Interest, news.com.au, Wikipedia and many other international publications.

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