The Colony: A History of Early Sydney

The Colony: A History of Early Sydney

The Colony: A History of Early Sydney

The Colony: A History of Early Sydney

Synopsis

The Colony is the story of the marvelously contrary, endlessly energetic early years of Sydney. It is an intimate account of the transformation of a campsite in a beautiful cove to the town that later became Australia's largest and best-known city. From the sparkling beaches to the foothills of the Blue Mountains, Grace Karskens skillfully reveals how landscape shaped both the lives of the original Aboriginal inhabitants and newcomers alike. She traces the ways in which relationships between the colonial authorities and ordinary men and women broke with old patterns, and the ways that settler and Aboriginal histories became entwined. She uncovers the ties between the burgeoning township and its rural hinterland expanding along the river systems of the Cumberland Plain. This is a landmark account of the birthplace of modern Australia, and a fascinating and richly textured narrative of people and place.

Excerpt

In 1786, the British government decided to found an experimental colony in the lands of unsuspecting groups of Aboriginal people on the other side of the globe. It was to be a simple agrarian colony, peopled by convicted felons and run by a governor and a handful of officers. Urban development and the ills it brought were to be strictly avoided. Yet this strange venture inadvertently created Australia’s oldest, largest and best-known city, Sydney, and eventually one of the world’s most urbanised nations. This book tells the marvellously contrary, endlessly energetic story of the making of Sydney in those early years. It is a story about transformations, of peoples and landscapes. Not just one transformation—from a beautiful cove and valley to a thriving city—but the way that the early camp became a town, and how the town continued to be transformed by succeeding and conflicting visions of governors and people. But this is also a story about continuities: persistent habits, and threads and echoes, ways of thinking and doing transplanted, and passed on, cycles of seasons and generations and shipping, the rivers and creeks flowing on, the bushland growing back. I am fascinated by this interplay of transformation and continuity—what slips away, and what holds fast? What is forgotten and what is remembered?

To begin, let us briefly scan Sydney from either end of its two centuries. Early twenty-first-century Sydney rejoices in the status of a ‘global’ city, linked more . . .

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