26 Views of the Starburst World: William Dawes at Sydney Cove 1788–91
UWA Publishing, $29.95 pb, 302 pp, 9781742582979
Words matter, and there can be few more misleading ones in Australian history than ‘settlement’, as used to describe the period immediately following the arrival of the First Fleet. It connotes understanding and agreement. In Sydney Cove, by contrast, five distinct groups were present: Governor Phillip and his immediate entourage; naval vessels and their crews; a detachment of Royal Marines; a group of convicts; and the Indigenous people of the area whose home it had been for tens of thousands of years – all of them at some stage profoundly misunderstanding each other and often in major disagreement or conflict; all of them decidedly unsettled.