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Botany Bay - why?


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Richard Mellish 29 Apr 12 - 05:34 AM
Jack Campin 29 Apr 12 - 05:47 AM
Sandra in Sydney 29 Apr 12 - 06:22 AM
Paul Davenport 29 Apr 12 - 07:23 AM
GUEST,CJB 29 Apr 12 - 07:45 AM
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Subject: Botany Bay - why?
From: Richard Mellish
Date: 29 Apr 12 - 05:34 AM

A few days ago I heard someone sing a few verses of the song that's in the DT as BOTANY BAY (3) and I've had the cursed thing as an earworm on and off ever since. It prompts some questions.

Why did the songs keep Botany Bay as the destination, despite the First Fleet having stopped there only briefly before deciding that it was an unsuitable location and moving on to what became Sydney? This song dates from a century later - see this posting.

It's a jolly singalong kind of song, perhaps appropriate for some of the convicts for whom transportation offered a prospect of a better life than at home, but surely not for the majority. Why did it become and remain so popular? (Maybe whatever has caused it to stay in my head this week has done the same for others.)

One verse refers to "the first and the second class passengers" on the ship. Were convicts ever transported on the same ships as paying passengers?


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Subject: RE: Botany Bay - why?
From: Jack Campin
Date: 29 Apr 12 - 05:47 AM

Transportation songs were written in the UK by people who had never even gone shopping in Calais. As far as they were concerned there wasn't any difference between Botany Bay and Sydney, and "Botany Bay" is easier to rhyme.

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Subject: RE: Botany Bay - why?
From: Sandra in Sydney
Date: 29 Apr 12 - 06:22 AM

"first and the second class passengers" was a term current when the song was written, I doubt it was used in the early convict days.

However convict ships also contained officials & marines who could perhaps be considered as first and the second class passengers as they were better treated & housed.

Wikipedia on History of Australia (1788–1850)
Convicts and free-settlers

When the Bellona transport came to anchor in Sydney Cove on 16 January 1793, she brought with her the first immigrant free settlers. They were: Thomas Rose, a farmer from Dorset, his wife and four children; he was allowed a grant of 120 acres; Frederic Meredith, who had formerly been at Sydney with HMS Sirius; Thomas Webb (who had also been formerly at Sydney with the Sirius), his wife, and his nephew, Joseph Webb; Edward Powell, who had formerly been at Sydney with the Lady Juliana, transport, and who married a free woman after his arrival. Thomas Webb and Edward Powell each received a grant of 80 acres; and Joseph Webb and Frederic Meredith received 60 acres each.

The conditions they had come out under were that they should be provided with a free passage, be furnished with agricultural tools and implements by the Government, have two years' provisions, and have grants of land free of expense. They were likewise to have the labour of a certain number of convicts, who were also to be provided with two years' rations and one year's clothing from the public stores. The land assigned to them was some miles to the westward of Sydney, at a place named by the settlers, "Liberty Plains". It is now the area covered mainly by the suburbs of Strathfield and Homebush.


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Subject: RE: Botany Bay - why?
From: Paul Davenport
Date: 29 Apr 12 - 07:23 AM

Given the geography of the region there's not much difference - you're either on the north side of a strip of land dividing two large bays (Sydney) or you're on the south side (Botany Bay). Ironically, nowadays, everyone who flies into Sydney airport technically makes landfall in Botany Bay as the runway sticks out into said watery void.
Incidentally, as a songwriter, you can do a lot more with a a four-syllable name than you can with a two syllable name.

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Subject: RE: Botany Bay - why?
Date: 29 Apr 12 - 07:45 AM

Listen to this one - a long lost Radio ballad from Charles Chilton:

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