January 18 - 1788 - The First Fleet First Arrives in Botany Bay
The First Fleet were 11 ships with over 1,000 people aboard that had the task of establishing a brand new penal colony in Australia. Thanks to the voyage of Captain James Cook some two decades before, the First Fleet knew exactly where they were headed, Botany Bay on the continent's southeast coast. When Commodore Arthur Philip arrived at the head of the Fleet after a 250 day voyage, he realized that Botany Bay was not a good site for a new colony. It was one of the early indications that launching a sizable colony with convicted criminals might be quite difficult. The entire fleet had to stay on their ships for over a week while officers figured out where they could actually settle. They would arrive in Port Jackson and found Sydney on January 26, which would actually be celebrated as Australia's founding even though they had been in Australia for days.