|"Sydney" by vampiresaredifferent.deviantart.com|
“On February 6 their disembarkation began … Those who had decent clothes had put on all their finery … The last of them landed by six in the evening … as dusk fell the weather burst. Tents blew away; within minutes the whole encampment was a rain-lashed bog. The women floundered to and fro … pursued by male convicts … One lightning bolt split a tree in the middle of the camp and killed several sheep and a pig beneath it. Meanwhile … sailors … asked for an extra ration of rum ‘to make merry with upon the women quitting the ship.’ … Bowes [a doctor who travelled with the first fleet] remarked, ‘it is beyond my abilities to give a just description of the scene of debauchery and riot that ensued during the night.’ … with ‘some swearing, others quarrelling, others singing – not in the least regarding the tempest, tho’ so violent that the thunder shook the ship exceeding anything I ever before had a conception of’ [Hughes, The Fatal Shore, Random House at 89].”
This event marked the true date upon which Sydney was founded and the circumstances were both dramatic and remarkable – it is as if Jupiter took an offering of “several sheep and a pig” for himself by the action of his lightning, while the settlers drank and f—ked in a wild Bacchanalian rite as the storm roared around them.