This odd photograph was submitted by a BAC member who wishes to remain anonymous. He submitted the following explanation.
G’day. I’m the forlorn individual shown spying out something. I know this is not a very convincing recreation of the First Fleet landing at Sydney Cove. Readers can list all the anachronisms. But if we ignore my plastic ski and paddle, the artificial water, the Australian-flag bowtie, the nylon water shoes and much more, there are nevertheless some admirable inclusions.
Firstly, the telescope. This symbolises Captain Arthur Phillip. What a navigator; what a wise administrator! Next, the “leg irons”. Admittedly handcuffs are an inadequate substitute, and raise questions of propriety, but at least they acknowledge the convicts. The singlet is also meant to evoke the (soon to be) working men and women shackled below decks. We must remember the convicts. Unfortunately, doing so prevented me wearing the red coat uniform of the Royal Marines who also rode on the First Fleet.
Omitting the Red Coats is a big deal because they are evidence (though not proof) that the First Fleet was an invasion. They had cannon! (though never fired them in anger). Perhaps next year.
Also omitted are the Aborigines. I wasn’t sure how to symbolise the 500 odd nations. A boomerang, didgeridoo or possum cloak perhaps. Though if I can use a plastic boat to represent 18th century technology, perhaps all anachronisms are permissible? Again, that must wait until next year.
Notice the native plants in the background. They are meant to signify Sir Joseph Banks, the botanist who accompanied Arthur Phillip on his earlier voyage when he discovered Sydney Harbour. A better signifier would have been a banksia cone, but I didn’t have one. The British flag is also included. In 1788 the flag did not yet include the Irish Cross of St Patrick, but the present flag is close enough.
The Union Jack says a lot about the people on board the First Fleet and the country and culture to which they belonged. The flag also implies the authority of the British monarch and parliament and the national identities that composed Britain, which persists to this day.
*NFFC = Not Fully Fact-Checked.