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26/1/1788

The First Fleet at anchor in Sydney Cove


Aptly named, H.M.S. Supply would be play a major role as the "life blood" of the new colony.
Australian Coat of Arms
Flagship of the First Fleet, H.M.S. Sirius
H.M.S Supply
 
H.M.S.Sirius

Ships of the First Fleet
H.M.S. Goldengrove

H.M.S. Alexander

H.M.S. Fishburn

H.M.S.  Lady Penrhyn

H.M.S. Friendship

H.M.S. Charlotte

H.M.S Scarborough

H.M.S.  Prince Of Wales

H.M.S Supply

H.M.S Barrowdale
Essential Asutralian Links

Australia's First Europeans Settlers

As dark as Australia's history may be concerning it's native inhabitants, the fact remains that Australia’s first European colonization in more or less 40,000 years began with it’s “discovery” by Captain James Cook during his voyage aboard H.M.S. Endeavor in 1770. With the loss of it's American Colonies, England became anxious to find another place to banish its so-called “undesirables”. On May 13, 1787, eleven ships, soon to be known as the “First Fleet”, began an eight-month journey from Southampton, bound for Botany Bay. Arriving on January 18, 1788, they found Botany Bay highly unsuitable, lacking a safe, deep harbor but just as important, no fresh drinking water. A longboat dispatched to search for an alternative settlement site, soon returned with news of the discovery of one of the great harbors of the world. Captain Cook, had noted the location of Port Jackson but sailed past without entering the harbour. On January 26, 1788, in Sydney Harbour, Governor Arthur Phillip was rowed ashore from the flagship H.M.S "Sirius” to raise the Union Jack and lay claim to Australia in the name of "Mother England". After much controversy it has now been firmly established that the first person actually ashore to secure the longboat on that historic day, was able seaman Owen Cavanough, Col Noble’s great-great-great-great-great grandfather.

The small colony struggled to establish a foothold in an abundant but foreign environment and its population nearly starved, which is ironic, considering the richness of marine life in Sydney’s magnificent waterways. After two years, an additional colony was established on Norfolk Island to accommodate the more “wayward” of convicts and the promise of fertile soil for agriculture. Owen was onboard the “Sirius” when it was wrecked on Norfolk Island on March 19, 1790. (The anchor from the “Sirius” was recovered in the 1980’s and holds place of pride and predominance at the entrance to Sydney’s Maritime Museum). Owen returned to Sydney in February 1791 and journeyed again to Norfolk Island on May 16, 1791, where he was given a grant of 60 acres to farm on the southern side of the Cascade Stream. On November 5, 1791, Owen and Margaret Darnell (Dowling) herself a “First Fleeter” transported on the “Prince of Wales” as a convict were married by First Fleet reverend, Richard Johnson.

For the theft a dozen knives and forks valued at six shillings, Margaret was convicted in the Old Bailey on April 18, 1787 and sentenced to seven years imprisonment and transportation to Botany Bay, as the soon-to-be established colony was then known. At Port Jackson 22 Dec 1788 Margaret bore a son, Charles, from a union with Marine Private Charles Green, himself a First Fleeter, arriving aboard the ship 'Friendship'. The child went with her to Norfolk Island on 4 Mar 1790 aboard the ship 'Sirius'. In Sep 1794 Charles Green Sen. made an attempt to get his son from Margaret, but was told she could keep him until he reached the age of seven, and Green apparently did not persist as the “paper trail” ceases after several years..

The newly married Cavanoughs remained on Norfolk for six years and had they stayed another few years they would have “run” into Jimmy Buffett’s ancestors who had abandoned Pitcairn Island as being too arid and overcrowded. Pitcairn’s original Buffett, John, traveling the southern seas from Nova Scotia aboard the whaler "Cyrus", volunteered to remain on Pitcairn in the capacity of schoolteacher for the “Bounty” mutineers. To this day, over one hundred “Buffett’s”, carry that surname on Norfolk Island and one has to wonder at the "coincidence" of the two ship's names, "Sirius" and "Cyrus"!

Upon their return to Sydney, Owen was given a grant of 100 acres on a tributary of the beautiful Hawkesbury River in the Windsor district, adjacent to land granted to Australia’s farming pioneers, wheat farmer James Ruse and "opportunist", James McCarthur, Australia’s first wool-grower. Owen became a successful “small-vegetables” grower and to market his produce, he would load up a small 14’ skiff and make a long, hazardous journey down the Hawkesbury, into Broken Bay and Pittwater and then down Sydney’s northern coastline into Sydney Harbour. On one such journey he and his craft were “commandeered” by two escaped convicts fleeing the brutal conditions of Sydney’s penal system. After two days on the open seas, Owen convinced them of the futility of attempting escape in such a small boat and they returned to Sydney and surrendered themselves to the authorities, where, subsequently they were hung!

Owen and Margaret lived out a peaceful existence and had in all, six children. Their original homestead had to be relocated several times as the Hawkesbury periodically flooded. In return for his grant of land, Owen donated a four acre portion, where now stands Ebenezer Church, Australia’s longest practicing church. After a thirteen thousand mile sea journey from Southampton to Sydney and countless miles in his small skiff, ironically, Owen met his demise while trying to traverse a flooded creek on horseback. It is probable that he didn't know how to swim, just as his fellow First Fleeters didn't know how to fish and nearly starved themselves to death.

In remarkable pioneer style, one of Owen’s sons, James Cavanough and his wife Mary made an eight hundred mile, two-year journey from Windsor to South East Queensland. They traveled on foot behind a bullock dray with two small children in what were then, extremely hazardous and dangerous conditions. At the time of their journey, the mid 1800’s, Australia’s “blacks” had not been brought under submission and the writer can only speculate that it may have been the presence of the small children and the Cavanough’s peaceful nature that allowed them safe passage through Aboriginal occupied land. They were the first Caucasian settlers in the St. George district where they established the first post office, general store and pub. Today there are literally hundreds of Cavanough ancestors in the St. George-Darling Downs district of Queensland.

It is not surprising in such a “remote” location and with such a short history of white settlement that most Australians can trace their ancestry back to one of the 160,000 "transportees" who formed the backbone of the new nation. However, the descendants of Owen Cavanough and Margaret Darnell, the Cavanough Society, lay claim to a special position with Owen having been the first man ashore on Australia Day, January 26, 1788. Unfortunately, English ‘classicism” flourished for almost two centuries in Australia and it is only since the celebration of Australia’s Bicentennial that many Cavanough ancestors became aware, or admitted that their ancestral grandmother was a convict. These days, sensibly, most descendants would prefer to be a “halfer”, that is, half free-settler and half convict! One member who’s “dark convict past” never held him back, is former Australian Test Cricket medium pace-bowler Geoff Lawson, who now does expert radio color commentary for the Australian Broadcasting Commission.

Truly the “son of a son of a son of a son of a son of a sailor”*, Col, along with fellow First Fleeter Lionel Aitken and ABC radio announcer Rita Montebello, formed “Parrotfan(austr)alia”, the first Jimmy Buffett charity-based fan club in the southern hemisphere. On 26 January 1995, they held their inaugural fund raising show, which carried the wordy but inescapable tag of “Parrotfanalia’s PHirst, PHirst PHleet Parrot Head Party”. The club flourished and floundered for over seven years and raised several thousand dollars for its benefactor, the Australian Volunteer Coast Guard.
For further information on Australia’s First Fleet Ancestry and the crazy, fun world of “Parrot Heads, just follow the provided links, if you get “the urge to merge”.
* Indicates a quote from a
Jimmy Buffett lyric.

Australian Aboriginal Flag
These flags represent the Australian Aboriginal Nation,
which has its own name for Australia Day~" Invasion Day".
To celebrate Australia’s Bicentennial in 1988, one Aboriginal journeyed to, and laid claim to England, in the name of the Australian Aboriginal Nation, a profound act that was no more absurd than the reverse act, carried out by the English in 1788.
Australian Aboriginal Flag

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