As the ships of the First Fleet swung at anchor in Sydney Cover in January 1788, the nature of the new colony was rapidly being formed. The peninsula to the west of the cove, ran steeply down to the water’s edge and was heavily cragged with rock formations. This area was allocated to the convicts and their immediate military overseers. The eastern shore and the area around the head of the cove - cloven by the muddy entrance of a small stream - were commandeered by the senior military and the administrators of the fledgling colony.
The rocks rapidly took on the character of its new inhabitants. Stowed on the eleven ships of the fleet were close to 1500 persons, including 550 male convicts and 190 female convicts. They had been sentenced to transportation for either 7 years or life, but the difference, once here, was marginal. And their crimes?
Mary Allen, 28, Stealing clothing to the value of 12/-The differences between the convicts, the free settlers and the marines was more apparent than real. They were mostly poor, they were mostly working class. Many were drunkards and lechers.
John Arscott, 20, stealing tobacco to the value of 70/-
James Bird, 38, stealing bags of saltpetre to the value of 65/-
William Brewer, 34, stealing a sheep worth 20/-
The topography of The Rocks leant itself to being rend by narrow winding laneways, perfect for the quick getaway, up over a fence, down through a drain, and bob’s yer uncle.
I am down the South Coast, swimming and walking at Merry Beach, then to the Four Winds Music Festival at Bermagui. I return late Monday.