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The Colony

A History of Early Sydney

Grace Karskens

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Allen & Unwin
01 July 2010
Winner of the 2010 Prime Minister's Literary Award for Non-Fiction 'Grace Karskens writes with the passion and insight of a novelist, and the accuracy of a historian. To read it is to have one's imagination stretched.' - Thomas Keneally, Sydney Morning Herald The Colony is the story of the marvellously 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 skilfully reveals how landscape shaped 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.

Enthusiastically received on first publication, this is a landmark account of the birthplace of modern Australia, and a fascinating and richly textured narrative of people and place.
By:   Grace Karskens
Imprint:   Allen & Unwin
Country of Publication:   Australia
Dimensions:   Height: 246mm,  Width: 174mm,  Spine: 38mm
Weight:   1.292kg
ISBN:   9781742373645
ISBN 10:   174237364X
Pages:   696
Publication Date:   01 July 2010
Recommended Age:   From
Audience:   General/trade ,  College/higher education ,  Professional and scholarly ,  ELT Advanced ,  Primary
Format:   Paperback
Publisher's Status:   Active
Acknowledgments Introduction 1. Deep time and human history 2. Encounters in Eora country 3. The Camp, the canvas 4. Food from a common industry 5. Seeding and breeding 6. Views from Flagstaff Hill 7. Landscape artists: the Macquaries in Sydney 8. The face of the country 9. Nefarious geographies 10. A very bountiful place indeed 11. Soft colony 12. Taking possession 13. War on the Cumberland Plain 14 Aftermath Epilogue Notes List of illustrations and sources Bibliography Index

Grace Karskens's groundbreaking book The Rocks: Life in Early Sydney won the 1998 NSW Premier's Award for Local and Regional History and established the author as a leading historian of colonial Australia. As Project Historian for the Cumberland- Gloucester Streets Archaeological Project, she combined history and archaeology to explore the lost world of the Rocks neighbourhoods in her book Inside the Rocks.

Reviews for The Colony: A History of Early Sydney

Grace Karskens writes with the passion and insight of a novelist, and the accuracy of a historian. . . . To read it is to have one's imagination stretched. --Thomas Keneally, author, Schindler's List Grounded in reality, free of stereotypes, and balanced in its judgment. It neither romanticizes nor condemns and thereby provides a foundation story that we can all recognize. --Sydney Morning Herald


  • Short-listed for International 2010 (Australia)
  • Short-listed for Manning Clark House National Cultural Awards, Individual Category 2009
  • Short-listed for Urban History Association's Best Book Award 2009 (Australia)
  • Shortlisted for Manning Clark House National Cultural Awards, Individual Category 2009.
  • Shortlisted for Prime Minister's Literary Awards (Australia): Non-Fiction 2010.
  • Winner of Prime Minister's Literary Awards (Australia): Non-Fiction 2010
  • Winner of Prime Minister's Literary Awards (Australia): Non-Fiction 2010.
  • Winner of Urban History Association Best Book in Non-North American Urban History Category 2010.

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