Napoleon’s artists and their new views of Australia

Lesueur made detailed sketches of Sydney. This view was made looking across Sydney Cove from where the Sydney Opera House now stands. Museum d’histoire naturelle, Le Havre.

Lesueur made detailed sketches of Sydney. This view was made looking across Sydney Cove from where the Sydney Opera House now stands. Museum d’histoire naturelle, Le Havre.

In April 1802 when the lookout station situated on the southern headland at the entrance to Port Jackson reported the sighting of a French naval vessel approaching, the news spread quickly through the streets of Sydney. Isolated on the far side of the world from England, it was normal for news of the arrival of a ship to cause excitement at the prospect of news from Europe and the hope of fresh supplies. The armed corvette Le Naturaliste however, was an unusual arrival and unlikely to bring much comfort to the town.

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Governor Phillip’s ‘Portsmouth Gig’

This watercolour 'Ban nel long [Bennelong] meeting the Governor by appointment after he was wounded by Willemaring in September 1790' by The Port Jackson Painter shows Governor Arthur Phillip being rowed out to meet Bennelong to attempt a reconciliation after the Governor had been gravely wounded by a spear at Manly. Bennelong has his nawi (bark canoe) paddle raised. Watling Collection, Natural History Museum, UK.

This watercolour ‘Ban nel long [Bennelong] meeting the Governor by appointment after he was wounded by Willemaring in September 1790’ by The Port Jackson Painter shows Governor Arthur Phillip being rowed out to meet Bennelong to attempt a reconciliation after the governor had been gravely wounded by a spear at Manly. Bennelong has his nawi (bark canoe) paddle raised. Watling Collection, Natural History Museum, UK.

In January 1788, life for people in Sydney was transformed dramatically and forever. The first inkling of change was the appearance of two ship’s boats in the harbour. This was the advance party of the 11 ships anchored at Botany Bay, exploring what Captain Cook had called Port Jackson in 1770 as a better site for the establishment of a British colony. Little did the people of Sydney know what was to follow in the wake of these ship’s boats. Within 12 months a small bridgehead of British colonisation had taken hold around Warran, or Sydney Cove, and at least half the Indigenous population had died from disease, their bodies littering the foreshores of the harbour in May 1789.

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HMB Endeavour: Sydney to Jervis Bay Voyage – Day Six

Thursday, 22 April 2010

Noon position Lat 33º48.2’S  Long 151º24’E
En route to Port Jackson

Day’s run 87nm

We hugged the coast making our way under ‘iron stays’ls’ (our motors) northward. The majority of voyage crew were using their spare time to catch up on some lost sleep and the afternoon found most of the sea chests being used as makeshift beds with some voyage crew even sprawled in the sun on deck.

Those on watch were lucky enough to spot even more wildlife with a school of flying fish on the run from a pursuing fin, though it remains unconfirmed what the fin may have belonged to. We were even joined by at least five dolphins that spot the ship and make their way over to frolic in our bow wave. 

As the sun sunk below the horizon, the voyage crew prepared for their night watches. They were treated to a beautiful view of the twinkling lights on the coast with the moon hanging low and bright in the sky. There was little to be done whilst motoring, just manning the helm and lookouts, doing safety rounds and avoiding the numerous bulk carriers making their way to and from Port Kembla. It’s a much quieter night.

Hove-to

As the morning wears on there is yet again another round of ‘Happy Hour’ (cleaning stations) as there is every morning but today just as we are packing up there is a cry of “bucket overboard”, the handle is left grasped in the hand of a voyage crew as the bucket bobs in the water. The ship is hove-to and as the rescue boat is launched our rescue boat team of Nick and Tom get ready. Steward Kat is hastily called with the ship’s camera and they set off in the rescue boat with dual missions! With the ship hove-to it is a great opportunity to get some photographs of Endeavour with her sails set and as Nick grabs the stray bucket from the water in dramatic ‘Baywatch’ style we are able to get some great shots of the ship.

We get back under way but are becalmed waiting for the afternoon sea breeze which gives navigator Dave the perfect opportunity to give a lecture on the use of sextants and teach our voyage crew to take noon sightings. Dave even calculates our position to within 0.3nm of our location on the GPS from one of his sights. He really does know where we’re going!

We can see the sheer cliffs of the rocky coastline approaching and as we head towards Port Jackson there are more dolphins spotted, this time off the port beam.

Our motors aren’t engaged until after we have crossed line zulu (the official entrance to Port Jackson) we have sailed into the harbour! It is then a race with all hands to get the sails furled before we are alongside at the museum. There are voyage crew clambering down from aloft as we turn into Darling Harbour but they are back on deck in time before the lines are thrown ashore!

Racing up to furl the sails as we enter Sydney Harbour

Our voyage crew depart after showing their loved ones through the ship that has been their home for the last six days and there are smiles and handshakes all round.

All’s well.

HMB Endeavour: Sydney to Jervis Bay Voyage – Day Two

Sunday, 18 April 2010

Noon position Lat 33º48.7’S  Long 151º21.7’E
Leaving Port Jackson
Day’s run 8nm

Numerous boats, launches and pleasure craft drift past us on our mooring in Athol Bight as the Taronga Zoo ferry comes and goes like clockwork. Our voyage crew are busy learning their bracing stations and foremast topman Tom runs his watch ragged as he changes his mind on what they will brace first.

Voyage crew being 'shown the ropes'

Everyone gets involved with ‘up and overs’ as all our voyage crew and supernumeraries get out on to the shrouds even if not all of them make it up to the fighting top.

Meal times are frantic on board. It is a race to scoff down food before the galley staff shoo you out in order to prepare for the second sitting. These are not times to relax, they are merely refuelling stops! Garry, our ship’s carpenter, is a serial offender for loitering in the 20th century mess and spends quite some time in the afternoon sharpening the galley knives in recompense for his misdemeanours. 

As the sun fades and the sky turns a bruised shade of purple the voyage crew are seen on deck cramming information and trying to learn as much as they can from their topmen before we venture into open seas.

The Heritage Fleet steamboat Waratah gives us a friendly toot as she does a lap of the ship for her passengers before disappearing into the dusk.

Night watches on the mooring are quiet, it is another chance for voyage crew to learn. Their topmen and upperyardies continue their inductions, showing them how to carry out rounds – checking the bilges, the heads and even the temperatures of the fridge and freezer.

Everyone wakes to a still and beautiful morning, some more rested than others, and just after 0930hrs we leave the safety of our mooring and begin our journey toward the heads. Our voyage crew are sent aloft and look like flies scampering up the shrouds and out onto the yards as they begin to unfurl our sails.

Unfurling ready to set sail!

As we leave the heads we can see James Craig in hot pursuit and it is a race to see who can get their sails set first. In no time at all we are in blue water watching the city skyline diminish on the horizon behind us.

All’s well.