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An extraordinary narrative history of the First Fleet, by the bestselling author of The Forgotten Children.

An extraordinary narrative history of the First Fleet, by the bestselling author of The Forgotten Children.

Never before or since has there been an experiment quite as bold as this. Set against the backdrop of Georgian England with its peculiar mix of elegance, prosperity, progress and squalor, the story of the First Fleet is one of courage, of short-sightedness, of tragedy but above all of extraordinary resilience. It is also, of course, the story of the very first European Australians, reluctant pioneers who travelled into the unknown - the vast majority against their will - in order to form a colony by order of the King's government. Separated from loved ones and travelling in cramped conditions for the months-long journey to Botany Bay, they suffered the most unbearable hardship on arrival on Australian land where a near-famine dictated that rations be cut to the bone. But why was the settlement of New South Wales proposed in the first place? Who were the main players in a story that changed the world and ultimately forged the Australian nation? How did the initial skirmishes with the indigenous population break out and how did the relationship turn sour so quickly? Using diaries, letters and official records, David Hill artfully reconstructs the experiences of these famous and infamous men and women of history, combining narrative skill with an eye for detail and an exceptional empathy with the people of the past.

Formats & editions

  • Paperback


    July 1, 2009

    William Heinemann Australia

    400 pages

    RRP $19.99

    Online retailers

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    Find your local bookstore at booksellers.org.au

  • EBook


    October 1, 2010

    Random House Australia

    400 pages

    Online retailers

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Also by David Hill

Hero of the Sea
The Fair and the Foul
Sky High
Flight Path
Speed King
Enemy Camp
Australia and the Monarchy
The Special Relationship
First to the Top
The Making of Australia
The Deadly Sky
No Safe Harbour
Brave Company
The Great Race
My Brother's War
The Gold Rush
Coming Back
The River Runs
The Forgotten Children


Guns, Germs And Steel
The Vietnam War
Hitler's First Victims
New Jerusalem
Hillsborough Voices
Avenue Of Spies
The Making of Australia
Village of Secrets
The Zhivago Affair
Dad's War
Dirty Bertie: An English King Made in France
The Trigger
The Real Great Escape
Forgotten Voices Desert Victory
Boardwalk Empire
The Price Of Altruism