Search the Collection
Advanced Search
Image Not Available

View of the settlement on Sydney Cove, Port Jackson

Date: 1792
Overall: 445 x 475 mm, 1.85 kg
Medium: Ink on paper
Credit Line: ANMM Collection
Object Name: Engraving
Object No: 00006153
Related Place:Sydney,

User Terms

    This engraving was included in John Hunter's 'An historical journal of the transactions at Port Jackson and Norfolk Island' (1793) and published by I. Stockdale, Piccadilly. It was produced just prior to Hunter returning to Sydney to commence his commission as Governor.

    This work shows the settlement of Sydney as seen on 20th August, 1788. Few permanent buildings are in evidence but a large amount of land had been cleared and numerous tents for the inhabitants are scattered around the landscape. Two ships are moored in the cove and the British flag, raised on 26th January 1788, can be seen near the waters edge.
    SignificanceThis engraving provides a visual record of early settlement in Sydney Cove created by a prominent and important individual in the early years of the settlement.
    HistoryThe settlement at Sydney Cove was established by Governor Arthur Phillip when he arrived with the First Fleet on 26 January 1788. The cove was named in honour of the British Home Secretary, Thomas Townsend, Lord Sydney and chosen as the site of settlement over Botany Bay because it offered both fresh water and a secure place for ships to anchor.

    Phillip described Sydney Cove as having 'the best spring of water, and in which the ships can anchor so close to the shore that at a very small expense quays may be made at which the largest ships may unload'. He aimed to establish a flourishing colony not just a penal site and supported plans to build a structured orderly town plan.

    Early development in the cove consisted of basic housing and some public buildings. Convicts lived in timber huts and tents prior to the construction of the Hyde Park Barracks in 1819. A stone quarry was established where the male convicts worked and a number of farming plots were cultivated.

    John Hunter (1737-1821) was the second Governor of the colony of New South Wales and when Matthew Flinders sailed to Australia in HMS RELIANCE during 1795 he was a passenger on board - about to take up his position as Governor. Hunter was impressed with the enthusiasm of Flinders and George Bass, and later offered support for their explorations while he was Governor.

    Hunter was born in Scotland in 1737 and established a career in the Royal Navy, becoming a midshipman in 1755 and a lieutenant in 1780. Hunter was on board HMS SIRIUS when it sailed to the colony of New South Wales as part of the First Fleet. After returning to England in 1793 he applied for the position of Governor after Arthur Phillip resigned. He was appointed in 1794 and arrived in the colony on 7 September 1795.

    Hunter's arrival was met with difficult challenges. In the two years since Governor Phillip's resignation and Hunter's appointment the colonial military had exercised ruling control and used their authority to exploit trade, convict labour, land sales and the court system. Hunter faced serious opposition when he attempted to challenge the military’s power. The British Government recalled him from the position in November 1799 and on return to England Hunter was required to defend his character and actions. He was eventually cleared of any fault.
    Additional Titles

    Primary title: VIEW of the SETTLEMENT on SYDNEY COVE, PORT JACKSON 20 AUGUST 1788

    Web title: View of the settlement on Sydney Cove, Port Jackson

    Related People

    Discuss this Object


    Please log in to add a comment.