The Colo­nial Ex­per­i­ment That Re­ally Worked!

Hills to Hawkesbury Living Magazine - - News -

Gov­er­nor Arthur Phillip had farm­ing ex­pe­ri­ence from the days when he moved to the New For­est in the south of Eng­land with his bride in 1763. The sandy soil of Botany Bay was of lit­tle agri­cul­tural value and the First Fleet moved to Port Jack­son where a fresh wa­ter stream of­fered a chance for suc­cess. Seeds and cut­tings planted on the shore of Farm Cove did not thrive and Phillip ex­plored west­wards un­til he dis­cov­ered the fer­tile lands he named Rose Hill.

Very few mem­bers of the First Fleet were skilled in farm­ing, but con­vict James Ruse said he had worked as a hus­band­man in Corn­wall and would be able to grow enough food to sup­port him­self. Land grant num­ber one is­sued by Arthur Phillip in 1790 gave James Ruse a thirty acre par­cel on the south­ern side of the Par­ra­matta River. Ruse was pro­vided with a hut, given grain for the first years of sow­ing and im­ple­ments to till the soil, plus two sow pigs and six hens. Gov­er­nor Phillip named the prop­erty Ex­per­i­ment Farm.

El­iz­a­beth Perry, trans­ported for seven years for theft, had ar­rived on the Lady Ju­liana in June 1790 and mar­ried Ruse in Septem­ber of that year. She was the first woman con­vict in New South Wales to be eman­ci­pated [to be set free]. The farm suc­ceeded and in 1791 Ruse re­ported he was able to main­tain him­self although his wife still had to draw ra­tions from gov­ern­ment stores since she was ex­pect­ing their first child.

In 1793 Ruse sold his farm to Sur­geon John Har­ris who in­creased his land hold­ings to 150 acres car­ry­ing cat­tle, horses and sheep as well as crops. This land is now known as the sub­urb of Har­ris Park.

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