'The men, thus armed and painted, drew themselves up in a line on the beach and each man had a green bough in his hand as a sign of friendship; their disposition was as regular as any well-disciplined troops' - John Hunter meets the original Australian, 29 January 1788
'Several of the convicts were married yesterday and amongst them that were, some have wives at home. Good God what a scene of whoredom is going on there in the women's camp' - Ralph Clark, 11 February 1788
'The stores had long been exhausted and winter was at hand ... If a lucky man who had knocked down a dinner with his gun or caught a fish by angling from the rocks, invited a neighbour to dine with him, the invitation always ran, 'bring you own bread'. Even at the governor's table ... every man when he sat down pulled his bread out of his pocket and laid it by his plate' - Watkin Tench, 17 April 1790
'The governor also attempted to fun holding the spear with both hands to keep the end off the ground ... He then begged me for God's sake to haul the spear out, which I immediately stopped to do and was in the act of doing it, when I recollected that I should only haul the barb into his flesh again ... Just at that instant, another spear came and just grazed the skin between the thumb and forefinger of my right hand' - Henry Waterhouse, 7 September 1790
Their task was to create a new society from the discarded remnants of the old. They were to this in circumstances of maximum uncertainty - on unexplored territory, on the edge of a vast ocean half a world away from home, on someone else's land. They were convicted criminals, soldiers and clerks. Some where teenagers, none were prepared for the hardships ahead. It is any wonder they felt buried alive?
This is their story, as they told it. Through eyewitness accounts - diaries, letters, journals, paintings - the first five years of a new country are vividly recalled. It is a story of anxiety and adventure, tragedy and achievement, the beginnings of the unlikely transformation of an experiment into a new society.
1788: Birth of a Thief Colony
1789: A Man or Two in Our Possession
1790: Shipwreck, Starvation and the Second Fleet
1791: Choice of Their Lands
1792: A House as I Wish For