Why did the squirrel cross the road?

On the way to the market on Saturday, I saw a squirrel walk out of a front garden towards the busy road, stop at the kerb, look right then left before racing across to the other side. There were no cars. Clever squirrel, I thought.

That’s not the only thing I spotted while at the market. There was also a bit of a surprise.

As an Australian who was taught the country’s colonizer history, I know that the first Governor of New South Wales was the Royal Navy Captain of the first fleet. His name was Arthur Philip (1738-1814). Having decided that Port Jackson was a better spot for Circular Quay than Botany Bay he planted a flag, proclaimed the place for King George III, named it after Lord Sydney, and took up the post of Governor.

He could see the promise of Sydney and tried to establish peaceful relations with the indigenous peoples, but this was unsuccessful for various reasons. Having set up all manner of infrastructure, and troubled by kidney stones, he returned to Britain in 1792. He had intended to return to Oz, but, on his doctor’s orders, resigned his position and remained in England.

Then, in 1798, he was placed in charge of the Hampshire Sea Fencibles, a volunteer defence force created in order to keep the French at bay during the Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars. Established by Sir Home Popham, the Fencibles were principally made up of fishing boats and was a sort of water-borne version of the Territorials.

The Hampshire Sea Fencibles were headquartered in Lymington and Admiral Arthur Philip lived in a cottage just off the high street. The cottage is not there any more, but a blue plaque indicates where it was.

He suffered a stroke in 1808 and, half paralysed, died six years later.

Finally, here’s a quote from the Dictionary of Australian Biography:

Steadfast in mind, modest, without self seeking, Phillip had imagination enough to conceive what the settlement might become, and the common sense to realize what at the moment was possible and expedient. When almost everyone was complaining he never himself complained, when all feared disaster he could still hopefully go on with his work. He was sent out to found a convict settlement, he laid the foundations of a great dominion.

Serle, Percival, available online at: https://gutenberg.net.au/ebooks15/1500721h/0-dict-biogP-Q.html

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