The topic of Botany Bay as a penal colony cropped up twice today. The first was at a service commemorating the 200th anniversary of the laying of the foundation stone of heritage church building in Sydney. The settlement/colonisation/invasion of Australia started in 1788, so no building in Australia is older than 231 years, and only a handful are older than 200 (a lot depends on definitions – some buildings were originally built then but have been extensively rebuilt since then).
Alongside some psalm anthems and a hymn of the time, we sang a rollicking song which I had not previously encountered, which exhorts young virgins, frolic and fair, to trip it away to Botany Bay to join the bold convicts, from whom they may chuse a man and attend procreation. Google shows that the poem was written in 1801, at which time the convict colony was a miserable place. It didn’t start improving until the arrival of Governor Macquarie in 1810.
This evening my wife and I went to see the movie Downton Abbey, set in 1927. The servants of the household get their their noses out of joint at being pushed around by the servants of the King and Queen, who are visiting, so they plot to temporarily remove them from the situation. One of them mutters “We’ll be sent to Botany Bay”. Well, no, for two reasons. Firstly, the convict colony at Botany Bay lasted only 10 or so days before Governor Phillip discovered that Port Jackson/Sydney Harbour was far nicer, so only the convicts on the ships of the First Fleet were sent to Botany Bay. But the name stuck, either for the colony, alongside the official name, New South Wales, and as the destination for convicts. Secondly, transportation to New South Wales was abolished in 1850 (and to anywhere in Australia in 1868), so no-one would have been transported here in 1927. I think the character was being hyperbolic, anyway.