First windmill at left in view of Sydney Cove c 1800-01

‘View of Sydney Cove’ c. 1800-1801. (detail)

Marked as ‘Boston’s Mill’ on an early map of Sydney Town, the first windmill was more likely owned by the Commissary, John Palmer. Early records note that Palmer had spent a considerable sum on the mill and its associated bakehouse and residence. The mill was located on a ridge between Sydney Cove and Farm Cove – it is seen on the far left of this contemporary sketch of Sydney Cove.

John Palmer had been appointed as Commissary in 1790. As such he was responsible for the distribution of stores, including most of the food, in the new colony. In 1793 he was granted 100 acres of land at the head of Garden Island Cove. He developed a detailed knowledge of local conditions and was a successful and innovative farmer

Palmer’s windmill was privately owned.  In 1801, meal from the mill was used in a trial to determine how much wheat bakers could demand for a 2lb loaf. Palmer later built a larger mill on his land.

Palmer became one of the most successful early farmers. He bought farms on the Hawkesbury and by 1802 had the largest stocks of wheat and maize in the colony.