1780s

1789 Australia’s first free farmer

James Ruse headstoneFrom 1789, Cornish emancipist James Ruse was allowed to farm  30 acres of land at Parramatta.  He was able to support himself and his family by 1791, when Governor Phillip granted him the land  – the first grant of land in the new colony.Through the efforts of small farmers the colony was self-supporting by 1795. Ruse later sold his land at Parramatta and was among the first to farm in the Hawkesbury River area. More

1788 Parramatta first settled

Parramatta in 1812

Parramatta,1812. Philip Slanger 1755-1815

Founded in 1788 as the colony’s second settlement, Parramatta means “the place where the eels lie” in the Darug Aboriginal language. The first colonists found the land around Sydney difficult to clear and the soil unsuitable for agriculture. Governor Arthur Phillip led an expedition up the harbour in November 1788 and found more suitable land at what was initially known as Rose Hill.  The first convict work team arrived later that month and began clearing the land for farming. More

1788 First official banquet

George Worgan's letter reported on the first official banquetThe first official banquet in the new colony was held to celebrate the King’s birthday on 4 June. The occasion was reported in a letter written by George Worgan, the surgeon from the Sirius. He wrote that at two o’clock the officers joined Governor Phillip in a “very good Entertainment, considering how far we are from Leaden-Hall Market”. The meal included “Mutton, Pork, Ducks, Fowls, Fish, Kanguroo, Sallads, Pies & preserved Fruits”. More

1788 Government farm established

Map showing Government Farm

State Library of NSW

A priority for the first settlers was to cultivate the land and begin producing their own food. Within two months of the First Fleet’s arrival on 26 January, three gardens had been established on the east side of the Tank Stream. By July, the Government Farm at what became known as Farm Cove had ‘nine acres in corn’. More

1788 First apple trees in Tasmania

Green apple - first apple treesEarly explorers did not hesitate to introduce familiar plants to the places they visited. In 1788, William Bligh anchored the Bounty in Adventure Bay off what is now Bruny Island. In addition to loading wood and water, Bligh planted seven apple trees. Returning to the same spot in 1792 as captain of the Providence, he and the ship’s botanists planted cress, celery, acorns and various fruit trees. More

1788 First colonists on tight rations

The first colonists had a meagre diet. In the first year of  European settlement at Port Jackson, adults received a weekly ration of 7 lb of flour, 7 lb of pork or beef, 3 pints of peas, 6 oz of butter and 1/2 lb rice.  These rations were supplemented by any food the settlers could grow. Public gardens were planted at Farm Cove. More