In 1797 a convoy of eleven ships, carrying about 1400 people set out from England to Botany Bay, on the east coast of New South Wales. According to the conventional account, it was a shambolic affair: under-prepared, poorly equipped and ill-disciplined. Robert Hughes condemned the organisers for their 'muddle and lack of foresight', while Manning Clark described scenes of 'indescribable misery and confusion.'
In 'The First Fleet: The Real Story', Alan Frost draws on hundreds of previously neglected records to debunk these persistent myths. He shows that the voyage was in fact meticulously planned - reflecting its importance to Britain's imperial and commercial ambitions. He examines the ships and supplies, passengers and behind-the-scenes discussions. In the process, he reveals the hopes and schemes of those who planned the voyage, and the experiences of those who made it.
Part 1. Planning a Convict Colony
1. Announcing the Decision
2. The Colony: Society, Law and Government
Part 2. Assembling the Fleet
3. The People 1: Officiald and Officers
4. The People 2: Ships' Crews, Mariners, Convicts, Wives and Children
5. The Ships
6. Equipping the Colonists
7. Loading the Ships and Embarking the People
Part 3. Preparing to Sail
8. At Portsmouth
9. Preparing Bodies for the Voyage
Part 4. The Voyage
10. Leaving the World
Part 5. The Cost
11. No Cheaper Mode?