Jan 20, 2010

1788 - David Hill

"In all the course of my life I never slept worse my dear wife and I than I did last night - what with the hard ground, spiders, ants and every vermin that you can think of crawling over me.  I was glad when morning came"
The above is a quote from the book 1788.  It in turn is a quote from the pages of Lieutenant Ralph Clark's journal in Feburary 1788.  This was written over 200  years ago and yet how apt is it now? For all intents and purposes it could be a page out of one of my camping journals as I was able to relate to this man's discomfort.  In some ways Australia hasn't changed a bit.   Every time I go out into the bush I have 'every vermin that you can think of crawling over me' and this happens in my house sometimes as well.


I remember spending a lot of time in school learning Australian History and was throughly convinced afterwards that I would never look at another Australian History book again, but after 20 years I was compelled to read this book simply from the 'write-up' on the back cover and I'm glad I did.

David Hill comes at this topic in an informal way and the subject matter is very easy to read.  Most of the times the narrative flows easily and the inclusion of excerpts from the journals of those who lived through the events adds interest to these events.

Throughout this narrative the colonist meet with many hardships from natural disasters: shipwreck, hunger, famine and scurvy and man-made disasters: governmental mismanagement, convict villainy and opposition from the military detachment, and it is a wonder that anyone survived at all..

Two faults I could find was that the narrative sometimes seemed to ramble and secondly the narrative ends abruptly with one paragraph to summarise the entire 329 pages.  All up I enjoyed it and actually learnt more about the First Fleet from this method than I did from the school books.

Quick View:

Easy, enjoyable read.