On Christmas Day 1789, Governor Arthur Phillip and his guests at the governor’s table in Sydney ate roast turtle, ‘a very fine one’ brought by HMS Supply from Lord Howe Island. The convicts managed on their reduced rations of salt pork, flour and ‘pease’ or dhal, though on Norfolk Island, two pigs were slaughtered and extra flour released from the stores to provide a Christmas feast. There was also a lot of extra rum.
Phillip had served in the Portuguese navy, spending time in Brazil, so Christmas in the heat was no big deal for him. But for the convicts, as for nearly all new arrivals to Australia during the subsequent 200 years, a summer Christmas was very strange, for Australia has been overwhelmingly populated by people from the Northern Hemisphere. Continue reading