Young Writers in Action

Young writers in action: Nina Sinclair’s letter

by Kate, 9, The Glennie School, QLD


To My Dear Family and Friends,

My name is Nina and I am in Australia, which I came to with the First Fleet by surprise. I hope that you can keep this letter for many years to come.

For the first 15 years of my life, it was very peaceful with my younger sister, Ava, who was 6 and my younger brother, Dillan, who was 2, as well as my mother, Queenie, and my father, Duncan. We had just the right amount of money to keep us going, but when I went out in the streets to buy bread while mother warmed the dripping from the roast, I encountered countless numbers of people sleeping on the streets and sometimes, a poor person stealing an apple from the grocer’s cart. The crime rates were high then, so there were police everywhere. You didn’t have to wait for long before dirt-stained white horses with the police on their backs came galloping after them and throwing them in Newgate Prison. I always was thankful that I wasn’t one of them!!!

Then, when I turned 16 on the 2nd of January, guards marched up to our small, wooden house door and delivered a letter. Dillan answered the door and when he saw the guards staring at him, he fell over backward onto the floor. Ava pushed past him and the guard gave her the letter. The guard said his thanks and shut the door behind him. She gave it immediately to father and he carefully opened it and took it out. This is what it said:

Dear Duncan Sinclair,

You have been appointed as Captain of the ship Alexander on the First Fleet to the Great South Land, which departs on the thirteenth day of May in the year 1787.

This expedition will be led by Admiral Arthur Phillip, who will be Governor of the Great South Land. There will be eleven ships and seven hundred and seventy-eight convicts.

I hope that you will be there.

Jeffery Amherst
Governor of England

We were very surprised at this letter (Dillan almost fell over again, but I caught him) and it also meant that we would never see him again. All of our family was so very sad and spent a lot of time with our father before he left. The 13th of May 1787 came so quickly, I don’t think I could even blink before it came!!!

When the day came, father said goodbye to us all and asked me to come to see him off. All of us cried as he went out the door and I stepped out with him in my blouse (and my handkerchief as well) as we walked out together.

Then, we lined up for a headcount, and surprisingly I went on the ship as well!
Before I knew it, I was going on the First Fleet to Australia!!!

It was very smelly and hurt my nose to go under into the cabins that the convicts were living in. The convicts were fighting all the time, (which was really quite horrid!)

Up on the deck, though, where the seamen, marines and I were, was fantastic with the air smelled of the salty ocean and father was captain, driving the ship.
I had a small go once, and it was fabulous!!
We stopped at Rio de Janeiro to fulfill supplies. I tried this fruit called ‘watermelon’ and the definition of it was a sweet-tasting, big, heavy, red, black seeded fruit. I was overjoyed as the juice trickled down my chin, and I giggled as I spat the pips into the blue sea. The black seeds looked like boats as they floated away and then sank down for these fearsome-looking animals with claws to eat.

The eleven ships sailed for another few months with the seamen, marines, 778 convicts, father and me until we got to this island in the French Polynesia called Tahiti. The convicts were so happy when we stopped again, but we didn’t stay for long, and Tahiti wasn’t nearly as good as Rio de Janiero, in my opinion.

One of the convicts was very bad: 12 year old Noah. He fought with their night guard and so, got put in the coalhole for three days. He came back a little more respectful of others, which was good. Serves him right to be punished, I think!!!

The next few months until we got to Australia were rather dull, because nothing much happened. I really was looking forward to landing in Australia, but I did miss mother, Ava and Dillan.

When the Alexander was near Australia, rumours went around that there were big rats in Australia with HUGE tails and that they could knock you over! Even though I didn’t think this was true, someone told the convicts and I don’t think they liked it!!!!

When we arrived in Australia, I was so excited that I practically jumped out of the ship. After that, I had to help round the convicts up to the factory to do their work. They had to work for seven years to gain their freedom, and then they could make their own homes and get their own servants like they had once been. However, since I was definitely NOT a convict, I was given some land straight away and so I hired some convicts to make a house.

Four years passed very quickly. I was having a great time in Australia because there were no crowded streets and there was no crime at all.

When I was 20, I married a man called Luke and we both lived a happy life together in our little house with chickens pecking around in our garden.

So, dear friends and relatives, I hope that you can come to Australia soon.

Yours Sincerely,
Nina Sinclair

This is Kate’s first piece published with Alphabet Soup. If YOU would like to send us a story, drawing, poem, or book review, check out our submission guidelines. Happy writing!