Botany Bay, an open oceanic embayment, is located in Sydney, New South Wales, Australia,13 km south of the Sydney central business district. The total catchment area of the bay is approximately 55 km2, despite its relative shallowness, the bay serves as greater metropolitan Sydneys main cargo seaport, located at Port Botany, with facilities managed by Sydney Ports Corporation. Two runways of Sydney Airport extend into the bay, Botany Bay National Park is located on the northern and southern headlands of the bay. The area surrounding the bay is generally managed by Roads and Maritime Services, the land adjacent to Botany Bay was settled for many thousands of years by the Tharawal and Eora Aboriginal peoples and their associated clans. On 29 April 1770, Botany Bay was the site of James Cooks first landing of HMS Endeavour on the mass of Australia. Later the British planned Botany Bay as the site for a penal colony, out of these plans came the first European habitation of Australia at Sydney Cove. Archaeological evidence from the shores of Botany Bay has yielded evidence of Aboriginal settlement dating back 5,000 years, the Aboriginal people of Sydney were known as the Eora with sub-groups derived from the languages they spoke. The people living between the Cooks River and the Georges River were the Bidjigal clan, on the shores of the bay were the Gweagal clan. An artefact collected on Cooks first voyage in Botany Bay is the bark shield left behind by a member of a local Aboriginal tribe. This very rare object is now in the British Museums collection and was the subject of a programme in the BBC radio series A History of the World in 100 Objects. Lieutenant James Cook first landed at Kurnell, on the banks of Botany Bay, on Sunday 29 April 1770. Cooks landing marked the beginning of Britains interest in Australia and in the colonisation of this new ‘southern continent’. Initially the name Sting Ray Harbour was used by Cook and other journal keepers on his expedition and that name was also recorded on an Admiralty chart. Cooks log for 6 May 1770 records The great quantity of these sort of found in this place occasioned my giving it the name of Stingrays Harbour. Eighteen years later, in 1788, Governor Arthur Phillip sailed the armed tender HMS Supply into the bay on 18 January, two days later the remaining ships of the First Fleet arrived to found the planned penal colony. However, the land was ruled unsuitable for settlement as there was insufficient fresh water. Phillip decided instead to move to the excellent natural harbour of Port Jackson to the north, on the morning of 24 January the French exploratory expedition of Jean-François de Galaup, comte de Lapérouse was seen outside Botany Bay. On 26 January, the Supply left the bay to move up to Port Jackson, on the afternoon of 26 January, the remaining ships of First Fleet arrived at Sydney Cove
Aerial photo of Sydney showing Botany Bay in the foreground.
Isaac Smith became the first European to set foot on eastern Australian soil, Cook telling him "Jump out, Isaac" as the ship's boat touched the shore at Botany Bay.