On 18 January 1788, after 250 days at sea (incl. port calls at Tenerife, Rio de Janeiro and Cape Town), HMS Supply under the command of Captain Arthur Phillip was the first vessel of the First Fleet to reach Botany Bay. Being a smaller and faster ship, Phillip had transferred to HMS Supply in order to sail ahead with the three fast transports Alexander, Friendship and Scarborough, which held most of the male convicts, and hoped to prepare a proper landing site before the rest of the fleet would arrive. Little did he know that they would all end up arriving within 48 hours of HMS Supply reaching the shores praised by Captain James Cook, who had anchored here for a week in 1770.
There are varying accounts as to how many people were on those 11 ships – Governor Phillip wrote of 1030 people, while others speak of up to 1500. In any case, not a single ship was lost and according to the principal surgeon, John White, only 48 deaths occurred, while 28 children were born during the voyage. Another souce mentions 20 new born children arriving in Botany Bay – 11 born to female convicts and 9 to officers’ wives.
225 years later, the date 18 January would mark the hottest day ever recorded in Sydney – the previous record, set on 14 January 1939 beaten by half a degree Celsius, when the temperature reached 45.8C on Observatory Hill at 2.55pm. Sydney Airport registered even 46.4C and Penrith in the metropolitan West 46.5C. It has been the second time this month for the mercury to climb past 40C in the city, a feat only seen on 3 other occasions in the last 107 years!
In 1977, Australia’s worst train disaster occurred in Granville, in Sydney’s West, on this day. A commuter train from Mt Victoria in the Blue Mountains derailed and crashed into a bridge, which collapsed onto two of the train’s carriages, killing 83 and injuring a further 210 people. At the time it was concluded that poor track conditions led to the derailment.