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Image of Botany Bay by SPOT Satellite

Botany Bay is a bay in Sydney, New South Wales, a few kilometres south of the Sydney central business district. The Cooks River and the Georges River are the two major tributaries that flow into the bay. Two runways of Sydney Airportextend into the bay. On 29 April 1770, Botany Bay was the site of James Cook's first landing of HMS Endeavour on the continent of Australia, after his extensive navigation of New Zealand. Later the British planned Botany Bay as the site for a penal colony. Out of these plans came the first European habitation of Australia at Sydney Cove.


Black-eyed Sue and Sweet Poll of Plymouth taking leave of their lovers who are going to Botany Bay

Black-eyed Sue and Sweet Poll of Plymouth, England mourning their lovers who are soon to be transported to Botany Bay, 1792


Archaeological evidence from the shores of Botany Bay has yielded evidence of Aboriginal settlement dating back 5,000 years. The Aboriginal people of Sydney were known as the Eora with sub-groups derived from the languages they spoke. The people living between the Cooks River and the Georges River were the Bidgigal. On the southern shores of the bay were the Gweagal.[1] On the northern shore it was the Kameygal.[2]

BrightonLeSands First Fleet monument

Bicentennial Monument at Brighton-Le-Sands

European Edit

James Cook's landing

Captain James Cook first landed on 29 April 1770, when navigating his way around Australia on his ship, the Endeavour. James Cook's landing marked the beginning of Britain's interest in Australia and in the eventual colonisation of this new Southern continent.[3] Initially the name Sting Ray Harbour was used by Cook and other journal keepers on his expedition, for the stingrays they caught. That name was recorded on an Admiralty chart too.[4] Cook's log for 6 May 1770 records "The great quantity of these sort of fish found in this place occasioned my giving it the name of Stingrays Harbour". However, in his journal (prepared later from his log), he changed to "The great quantity of plants Mr. Banks and Dr. Solander found in this place occasioned my giving it the name of Botany Bay".[5] Initially the name Botanist Baywas also sometimes used.

La Perouse 3

Monument at La Perouse

First Fleet arrives

Governor Arthur Phillip sailed the Armed Tender Supply into the bay on 18 January 1788. Two days later the remaining ships of the First Fleet arrived to found the planned penal colony. Finding that the sandy infertile soil of the site in fact rendered it most unsuitable for settlement, Phillip decided instead to move to the excellent natural harbour of Port Jackson to the north. On the morning of 24 January the French exploratory expedition of Jean-François de La Pérouse was seen outside Botany Bay. On 26 January, the Supply left the bay to move up to Port Jackson. It anchored in Sydney Cove and the British Flag "Queen Ann" was hoisted on shore. On the afternoon of 26 January, the remaining ships of First Fleet arrived at Sydney Cove.

In 1789, captain John Hunter surveyed Botany Bay after returning from the Cape Of Good Hope, trading for grain. he good supply of fresh waterin the area led to the expansion of its population in the 19th century.

Kurnell Flags

Botany Bay, view from Kurnell


Sydney Airport, Australia's largest airport, sits on northwestern side of Botany Bay. Land was reclaimed from the bay to extend its first north-south runway and build a second one parallel to it.

Port Botany, to the east of the airport, was built in 1930, and is the largest container terminal in Sydney.

The land around the headlands of the bay is protected by the National Parks and Wildlife Service as Botany Bay National Park. On the northern side of the mouth of the bay is the historic site of La Perouse, and to the south is Kurnell. The western shores of the bay feature many popular swimming beaches including Brighton-Le-Sands On the southern side of the bay, a section of water has been fenced off under the authority of the National Parks and Wildlife Service at Towra Point for environmental conservation purposes.

Marine lifeEdit

Despite being such a busy port, Botany Bay has a diverse marine population, and the area around its entrance is some of the best scuba diving in the Sydney Metropolitan Area. In recent times, the Botany Bay Watch Project[6] has begun with volunteers assisting to monitor and protect the Bay Catchment and its unique marine life.

The world's largest population of weedy sea dragon ever surveyed is found at the 'Steps' dive site, on the southern side (Kurnell) of the Botany Bay National Park. Weedy sea dragons are just one of hundreds of territorial marine creatures found within Botany Bay. The eastern blue grouper[7]is the state fish of New South Wales. They are commonly found following divers along the shore line of Botany Bay.

Sydney from Botany Bay looking north (aerial)

Aerial photo of Sydney showing Botany Bay in the foreground

Botany Bay

The mouth of Botany Bay from the air

Accidents and incidentsEdit

On 30 November 1961 a Vickers Viscount aircraft crashed into Botany Bay after taking off from Sydney Airport 9 minutes earlier. All 15 people on board died in the accident. The wreckage was recovered from the Bay by Police and Navy clearance divers and HMAS Kimbla.[8]

Popular cultureEdit


  1. ^ Pictorial Memories ST. George: Rockdale, Kogarah, Hurstville Joan Lawrence, Kingsclear Books, 1996, Published in Australia ISBN 0-908272-45-6, page 3
  2. ^
  3. ^ Captain Cook's map of Botany Bay
  4. ^
  5. ^ Ray Parkin, H. M. Bark Endeavour, Miegunyah Press, second edition 2003, ISBN 0-522-85093-6, page 203.
  6. ^
  7. ^
  8. ^ La Perouse - Blast From The Past Retrieved 2011-09-19
Wikimedia Commons has media related to:


  • (French) Expédition à Botany Bay, La fondation de l'Australie coloniale, Watkin Tench, préface d'Isabelle Merle, 2006, Editions Anacharsis
  • George Forster, Neuholland und die brittische Colonie in Botany-Bay/New Holland and the British colony at Botany Bay, translated into English by Robert J. King, Originally published in Allgemeines historisches Taschenbuch, oder, Abriss der merkwuridgsten neuen Welt Begebenheiten enthaltend fur 1787, National Library of Australia, Canberra, 2008, SR 909.7 S768.
  • (French) Le texte fondateur de l'Australie, récit de voyage d'un capitaine de la First Fleet durant l'Expédition à Botany Bay. [1]


Coordinates: 33°58′S 151°10′E / -33.967, 151.167

This page uses content from the English language Wikipedia. The original content was at Botany Bay. The list of authors can be seen in the page history. As with this Familypedia wiki, the content of Wikipedia is available under the Creative Commons License.