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Synopsis

In 1787 a convoy of eleven ships, carrying about 1400 people, set out from England for Botany Bay. According to the conventional account, it was a shambolic affair: under-prepared, poorly equipped and ill-disciplined. Robert Hughes condemned the organisers’ “muddle and lack of foresight”, while Manning Clark described scenes of “indescribable misery and confusion”. In The First Fleet: The Real Story, Alan Frost draws on previously forgotten records to debunk these persistent myths. He shows that the voyage was in fact meticulously planned – reflecting its importance to the British government’s secret ambitions for imperial expansion. He examines the ships and supplies, passengers and behind-the-scenes discussions. In the process, he reveals the hopes and schemes of those who planned the voyage, and the experiences of those who made it.

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