Publisher's synopsis

In January 1788 the First Fleet arrived in New South Wales and a thousand British men and women, some of them convicts and some of them free, encountered the people who would be their new neighbours – the beach nomads of Australia.

‘These people mixed with ours,’ wrote a British observer soon after landfall, ‘and all hands danced together.’

What followed would shape relations between the peoples for the next two centuries.


  • Winner 2004 Kiriyama Prize for non-fiction
  • Winner 2004 NSW Premier’s Literary Awards
  • Winner 2004 Queensland Premier’s Literary Awards, Best History Book
  • Shortlisted 2004 Age Book of the Year
  • Shortlisted 2004 Courier-Mail Book of the Year
  • Shortlisted 2004 Victorian Premier’s Literary Awards
  • Shortlisted 2004 Westfield/Waverley Library Award for Literature