NSW History

The history of NSW is virtually the early European history of Australia. In 1770 Captain James Cook took possession of all Australian territories east of the 135th meridian of east longitude and named them New South Wales. After the American War of Independence, Britain had nowhere to send her convicted criminals, and at the suggestion of Sir Joseph Banks, who had sailed with Cook, it was decided that Botany Bay would be ideal as a penal settlement.

In 1788 the first fleet of convicts and their keepers arrived at Botany Bay, but a lack of fresh water sent them further north where they discovered Sydney Cove. In 1813 explorers discovered the lands to the west of the Blue Mountains, which led to the settlement fanning out from the capital city of Sydney. The goldrushes of the 1850s further swelled the population.