Last modified on July 13, 2016, at 05:49

Botany Bay

Botany Bay is a broad inlet on the coast of New South Wales, Australia, some 11 km (7 miles) south of Port Jackson (Sydney Harbour.) Part of it - Port Botany on reclaimed land on its northern shore - acts as Sydney’s main container terminal.

Sydney’s southern suburbs began surrounding it in the first half of the 20th century, although much of its shoreline is industrial, including major oil refineries, warehouses, factories and Kingsford Smith International Airport with runways reaching out into the bay.

It is the site of the first known European contact with eastern Australia when James Cook made landfall just inside its southern headland in 1770. He named it “Stingray Bay” then, as the botanists on board his ship, Endeavour, began collecting the many hitherto unknown species of flora from the surrounding area, “Botanist’s Bay”, before finally settling on its current name.

Cook’s reports of the area made it the intended destination for the First Fleet in 1788. It was found unsuitable for a major settlement, however, (much of the surrounding ground was low, extremely sandy or swamp) and the venture was moved to Port Jackson which Cook had noted as an inlet without entering the Heads and discovering its qualities.

It holds a place in the Australian ethos with words of the old song (actually a Sea Shanty) still widely known:

Farewell to old England forever
Farewell to my rum culls as well
Farewell to the well known Old Bailey
Where I used for to cut such a swell
Singing Tooral liooral liaddity
Singing Tooral liooral liay
Singing Tooral liooral liaddity
And we're bound for Botany Bay
There's the captain as is our commander
There's the bosun and all the ship's crew
There's the first and the second class passengers
Knows what we poor convicts go through
Taint leaving old England we cares about
Taint cos we mis-spells what we knows
But because all we light fingered gentry
Hops around with a log on our toes
These seven long years I've been serving now
And seven long more have to stay
All for bashing a bloke down our alley
And taking his ticker away
Oh had I the wings of a turtle dove
I'd soar on my pinions so high
Slap bang to the arms of my Polly love
And in her sweet presence I'd die
Now all my young Dookies and Dutchesses
Take warning from what I've to say
Mind all is your own as you toucheses
Or you'll find us in Botany Bay