This article is a contribution to the debate over Australia’s convict beginnings and the nature of the British colonization of New South Wales. The early agriculture of the convict colony is set in the maritime context of imperial rivalries and visions of empire in the Pacific Ocean. When the Port Jackson settlement is viewed from this maritime perspective, it is apparent that agriculture was an imperial imperative of the Pitt administration. The design and early function of the settlement as a port of shelter and refreshment ensured that, despite initial despondency and drought, a bountiful and secure agricultural hinterland was in the making. Within five years after the planting of New South Wales, convict settlers, mixed agriculture, and imperial designs had transformed "a rude, wild country into a pleasant garden." As a planned, self-sufficient, maritime settlement, Port Jackson rapidly developed its capacity to produce a surplus of antiscorbutic seamen’s greens essential for a distant port and naval base to become an assured resource of refereshment, services, and supplies necessary for Britain to "effectively occupy" the oceanic territory of New South Wales and thereby integrate the development of a global empire.

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