William Bradley’s log of HMS Sirius

Bradley’s notes and coastal profiles of Van Diemen’s Land (now Tasmania), made on 8 January 1788, less than three weeks before the First Fleet arrived in Sydney Cove. ANMM Collection 00055232.

Bradley’s notes and coastal profiles of Van Diemen’s Land (now Tasmania), made on 8 January 1788, less than three weeks before the First Fleet arrived in Sydney Cove. ANMM Collection 00055232.

An extraordinary gift to the nation

An extremely generous donation to the museum has brought an important early colonial record back to Australia.

Earlier this year I flew to England a examine a previously unknown log of HMS Sirius, written by First Lieutenant William Bradley, covering the period from the departure of the First Fleet from Portsmouth, UK, in May 1787 to the return of the ship’s crew to England in April 1792 aboard the Dutch vessel Waakzaamheydt. It was a formative period in Australia’s colonial history and the logbook, signed by William Bradley, written in his neat hand and illustrated with maps and small coastal profiles, is an extraordinary gift to the nation.

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Contested waterways – Aboriginal resistance in early colonial Sydney

Acknowledgement to Country

The Australian National Maritime Museum acknowledges the Gadigal people of the Eora nation as the traditional custodians of the bamal (earth) and badu (waters) on which we work. We also acknowledge all traditional custodians of the land and waters throughout Australia and pay our respects to them and their cultures, and to elders past and present.

The words bamal and badu are spoken in the Sydney region’s Eora language. Supplied courtesy of the Metropolitan Local Aboriginal Land Council.

Cultural Warning

The Museum would like to advise visitors that this content may contain the names and artwork, by deceased Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

<em>Black Bastards Are Coming</em> © Gordon Syron, 2013. This work re-imagines European contact from an Indigenous perspective. The artist reverses the roles of first contact by depicting black soldiers in military red coats, approaching shore and firing guns at the white people standing in the shallows. ANMM Collection 00054536, reproduced courtesy Gordon Syron.

Black Bastards Are Coming © Gordon Syron, 2013. This work re-imagines European contact from an Indigenous perspective. The artist reverses the roles of first contact by depicting black soldiers in military red coats, approaching shore and firing guns at the white people standing in the shallows. ANMM Collection 00054536, reproduced courtesy Gordon Syron.

Warning: This article contains some words and terms used in the past by non-Aboriginal people that would be considered inappropriate today.

In the 19th century, Aboriginal people in the Sydney region used rivers, creeks and waterways as places of refuge and survival after the devastation of colonisation. In the first decade of the British colony, waterways were also important in resistance warfare. From 1788 to 1810 there were numerous raids conducted in canoes, as well as attacks by Aboriginal warriors on British vessels. The role of nawi – the Sydney tied-bark canoe – in this conflict has been overlooked by historians.

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