August 12, 2007

26 January 1807, Anniversary Day, by Elizabeth Macarthur

Governor Phillip and the foundation of NS Wales

Today marked the anniversary of Governor Phillip landing at Sydney Cove and here in Parramatta we had a wonderful celebration in the Town Square, with all at the barracks on parade, surrounded by many of the country people from round-abouts. In nineteen years the Colony has grown five or six fold, and may support itself at any moment, should never a government ship call here. I suppose that we are living now beyond the limits of settlements from Captain Phillip's time, although he established a military post here very early. John believes that the Governor camped on our property when he first explored here and points the spot to any inquirers.
Mr Wogan told me the most extraordinary things about the early times, such as having his Clavichord placed beneath the trees at Sydney Cove and playing a Boccherini piece to the natives, to their astonishment, and then dancing with the same fellows for hours on end when he'd finished playing.
I was at first reluctant to believe Mr. Wogan, although of course we have the Clavichord here. I couldn't imagine the dancing, but Governor King shewed me some sketches he'd made of the men dancing with the natives, emulating the spread-leg stance that the native men adopt throughout their performances. Mr. King went so far as to demonstrate the knee-knocker, or rapid percussion of the knees that the natives use at the climax of their dance. Our relations over the past twenty years have been so mixed - and now either many natives have moved beyond the settlements, or their simply aren't so many left, because I noticed this season a diminution of numbers, especially of the young women and men. Even here, with our dogs and the two men Mr. Macarthur keeps in the field, hunting game, the available foods must be shrunk, although it appears that sufficient bats and duck abound to fill many bellies.
The ruckus in Town, with cannon and gun-shot, kept the natives away from our celebrations, when a splendid tea was served in the afternoon when the sun had cooled a little, with dancing until the wee hours I suppose, for those that stayed. Hannibal returned to the celebrations, after seeing us safely here.

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