First Impressions Sculpture
Public Art : First Impressions Sculpture
Sculptor : © Bud Dumas
Date Unveiled : The First Impressions sculpture was
unveiled in 1979.
Description : The sandstone relief is a memorial to
the convicts, soldiers and settlers who made up the original settlement at The Rocks.
Location: First Impressions sculpture is located in
Playfair St, The Rocks, Sydney (right near Biggles).
Governor Phillip (1788-1792) was given the power to grant land in
small parcels to ex convicts. His instructions also suggested that "every reasonable
encouragement" be given to soldiers and other free persons wanting to settle. In 1789 James
Ruse was given a free pardon, supplied with seed, livestock, farm implements , convict labour and a
few acres at Rose Hill and thus became Australia's first settler.
Australia's first eleven free immigrants landed in Sydney in 1793 in response to
repeated requests for experienced farmers, mechanics and convict supervisors. 63,000 convicts and
14,000 free immigrants arrived in Australia between 1788 and 1830. Land grants were abolished in
1831. Thereafter Crown land was sold at fixed prices with the income going to England to subsidise
schemes of free or inexpensive immigration.
Between 1830 and 1850, 83,000 convicts and 173,000 free settlers arrived bringing
Australia's population to 100,000. At this time there were only 7 women for each 10 en with most
people living outside the towns and engaged in some form of primary production. Th 1850-60 Gold
Rush perios swelled the population to, 1,145,000, established a decentralised pattern of inland
towns and signalled the beginning of the immigration of the diverse range of nationalities that
make up today's Australia.
"First Impressions" was commissioned by the Sydney Cove Redevelopment Authority
This plaque was presented by the Fellowship of First Fleeters
The First Fleet arrived with 211 Marines whose primary duties were to protect the settlement and
preserve good order anomg the convicts. Recognising the need for a permanent body of tropps
adaptable to the conditions of the new penal colony, the British Government raised the NSW Corps of
which the first 100 strong detachment arrived with the Second Fleet in June, 1790. The Soldier
represented here is modelled on the NSW Corps.
The "Rum Corps", as they later came to be known, and their commanders administered the
settlement between Governor Phillip's departure (1792) and Governor Hunter's arrival (1795). The
Corps officers began to receive land grants and farm land in 1793. Shortly thereafter the colony
achieved self sufficiency in its grain production.
The Corps members embodied the first cohesive, large group of freely come settlers with the
rights, privileges and duties of British citizens not limited by criminal conviction or exile. They
strongly influenced the colony's political development asserting their rights as both soldiers and
Twenty seven British line regiments served in Australia between 1810 and their complete
withdrawal in 1870. The original George Street Barracks were the largest Army Barracks in the
British Colonial empire at that time. All governors between Captain Phillip (1788) and Major-
General Bourke (1837) were of Naval or Military background.