In 1789 HMS Guardian was being fitted out to go to Sydney Cove to take supplies to the struggling colony of New South Wales. The Guardian was a frigate of 900 tons. 25 Male convicts with horticultural or agricultural skills were selected to board the Guardian to help with the growing of crops in the new colony in Sydney. The Guardian carried plants to kick start the colony's plantations housed in a special plant cabin on her quarterdeck designed by Sir Joseph Banks himself. They were to carry 93 pots of fruits, herbs and vegetables.
Edward Riou, one of Cook's old officers was in command of the Guardian. Edward Riou had served under Leiutenant Edgar on the Discovery and Leiutenant Bligh on the Resolution. Leiutenant Riou's orders were to reach the colony as swiftly as possible.
HMS Guardian did not leave the Spithead until September of 1789, far later than the British Admiralty had intended. She stopped briefly at Tenerife to take on wine, passed by Cabo Verde and was just north of the Equator in three weeks. At 2 degrees North she sighted a southern whaler coming up from the Falklands. HMS Guardian swung back into the Atlantic and made for Cape Town. On the 25th November, she arrived in Cape Town. In Cape Town Lieutenant Riou heard that HMS Sirius had been there to buy emergency supplies for the struggling New South Wales colony. Consequently HMS Guardian wasted no time getting supplies on board and set off towards the south-west on 11th December 1789 with livestock such as cattle, horses, sheep, goats, rabbits, and poultry, for the starving settlement.
The course that the HMS Guardian took was dangerously close to the Antarctic. On 22nd December they sighted icebergs 3 leagues away. At 42 degrees , the ice was unusually north. On Christmas Eve, at 43 degrees South, they sight a huge iceberg and decide to try to scoop some ice out of the sea to provide water for the cattle. Boats were sent out and then fog came in, with decreased visibility. Unfortunately no-one saw a massive iceberg that impaled the ship on the starboard beam. Her rudder was torn off and she was holed, water streaming into the holds. They pumped and pumped but could not keep it up. Lieutenant Riou allowed any who wished to leave to abandon ship. Of the boats who left, all but 15 lost. Riou stayed with the ship along with 60 people and jury rigged a rudder. They were saved by whalers who led them into False Bay at the Cape of Good Hope on 21st February 1790. Captain Riou and his crew were covered in dirt and rags with long beards.
A Brief History of Mutiny: A Brief History of Mutiny at Sea -
Perhaps even more than the waves and weather, sea officers of the past feared the ever-present risk of mutiny. Functioning as a microcosm of dissent in our society at large, the steep hierarchy and deep social divisions between the crew and their commanders, the misery and monotony of very hard work and little sleep, and the constant threat of death from shipwreck, disease, or the enemy often led to an anarchic breakdown of any semblance of stability or order at sea.
The Odyssey of Mary B -
In 1792 a young woman called Mary B became the talk of London with her story of suffering and escape from the new pinchgut penal colony in Australia. Here is the story of a courageous survivor, history's "girl from Botany Bay." And here is the story of Australia's founding, told with the dramatic sweep of a great saga.
Baudin & Flinders
Sir Robert Seppings