Making the sea passage south to Flinders Island, I began reading this while off-watch, hoping book and destination might augment, but tough weather cancelled free time until after a landfall sleep. I’ve not much enjoyed histories which cast these manuka and granite islands in dismal role, they are shockingly beautiful, but the crowded cemetery wails, the old lath church is empty of joyful song, and the rule of Commandant Jeanneret recalls similar miseries of bonded Malay and Bantamese on Cocos.
Reynolds sets this right. The Aboriginal exiles thought hymn-singing a pleasant pastime, they refused work, were not ill-nourished but most likely died from an affliction endemic first before white invasion, and their petition to the Queen rid them of Jeanneret’s tyranny. The insistent echoes of grief here mourn their homelands.