Convict Colony

The remarkable story of the fledgling settlement

that survived against the odds


David Hill

Allen and Unwin   October 2019

Paperback   368pp   RRP $32.99


Reviewer: Robert Dixon, November 2019


Sub-titled ‘The remarkable story of the fledgling settlement that survived against the odds’ this book covers the development of the European settlement at Port Jackson from the decision to send convicts to Australia and departure of the First Fleet from England in 1787 to the departure of Macquarie from Australia in 1822. All of the familiar topics appear here – the voyage out, the influence of different governors, interaction with the first Australians, attempts to escape, corruption in the ranks of the military, the growth of the wool industry, the crossing of the Blue Mountains, etc etc.

It is hard to judge who the intended audience is as the work is merely descriptive. For people familiar with the early history of Australia there are no new insights here, but David Hill tells the story of the first three decades of Britain's earliest colony in Australia in a very readable fashion and as such would be an excellent ‘refresher’ for an adult reader. At the same time the coverage and the writing style are such that it is ideal for Years 10 - 12 students.    

The book is printed in a very reader-friendly font size and includes 32 pages of endnotes, an 8-page bibliography, 31 illustrations (many of which are in colour) and with very informative captions and an index. It does not have any maps but since the book deals only with a very small area around Sydney this is not a hindrance for the reader.

David Hill is the author of eight books, including the bestselling 1788: The Brutal Truth of the First Fleet. He was managing director of the Australian Broadcasting Corporation from 1987 – 1995 and chairman of the Australian Football Association.


The RUSI – Vic Library thanks the publisher for making this work available for review.



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