Books

The Happy River

The most distinctive and interesting part of Australian history is the way an open-air prison for 150,000 convicts became one of the world’s best places to live. People of the River by Grace Karskens is the best book I have read on this topic. The “river” is the Hawkesbury-Nepean and its valley, jammed against the Blue Mountains west of Sydney. Her immense detail about people and places, the result of heavyweight team research, brings the place and the period from the 1790s to the mid-nineteenth century vividly alive.  These river flats were the most fertile land in the early colony,…

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