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Botany Bay

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The bay is the historic place where the first European set foot on the shores of eastern Australia, now amid suburban Sydney, but containing parks lands and the old fort on Bare Island. 

The coastline of the Kamay Botany Bay National Park that takes up most of the peninsula that is the southern barrier between the bay and the Tasman Sea.

The bay is famous as the spot that the first European, James Cook, stepped onto the shores of eastern Australia. The first attempt at colonization of the eastern coast was to see the Sydney colony established at Botany Bay but when Arthur Phillip and the colonists arrived in 1788 they found the area lacked fresh water and was not ideal as an anchorage. Phillip then moved it to the more ideal port at Sydney Cove and the penal colony was established.

The fort on Bare Island was built in 1885 as Botany Bay was seen as a possible place for an enemy to gain a foothold on the coast and head north to attack Sydney. The fort was designed to defend the entrance to the bay and has several gun placements for that purpose.  The use of the fort was short lived, however and it was decommissioned in 1902 with only a few military left to man it, mostly as lookouts, until closing in 1912. It then became a retirement home for war veterans returning from the campaigns of Crimea, Sudan, and China until 1963. In 1967 it was established as a historic site and is open for inspections and tours.

Sydney SPOT 1210
By Cnes - Spot Image [CC BY-SA 3.0 ], via Wikimedia Commons

An aerial shot of Botany Bay showing the southern peninsula contain the Kamay Botany Bay National Park and on the northern shores of which, at Kurnell, the ship Endeavour was anchored and James Cook stepped ashore. Sydney airport and the port facility extends into the northern section of the bay. On the northern side of the opening to the bay is the old fort on Bare Island.

Cook's landing at Botany Bay
See page for author [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

James Cook’s landing at Kurnell, Botany Bay in 1770. Lithograph by unknown artist, first published in the Town and Country Journal New South Wales, 21 December 1872


The monument commemorating James Cook’s landing in 1770 on the coast of Kurnell, Botany Bay.