In Robert Hughes The Fatal Shore the reader is given the incredibly detailed history of a nation and people that was often not taught to its own schoolchildren as the past has long been considered a source of shame. This is the riveting story of the founding of Australia from its initial shiploads of criminal convicts landing on the continent in 1788 until independent nation status. It took only 80 years but Australia became a nation despite the inauspicious colonial beginning.
Not all the early settlers were criminals and many that were had committed mostly petty crimes or minor offenses. Regardless, Britain opened up its overflowing prisons and transported almost over 150,000 men, women and children to their new land in the south Pacific Ocean. Robert Hughes provides all the horror and grisly details one would expect to hear of people totally unprepared for the harsh and dangerous world into which they were brought. Thousands perished during the arduous sea voyage or else within months of landing due to starvation, drought, disease, lawlessness, and natural dangers such as snakes, spiders, crocodiles, etc. It is a marvel to believe that under such hardships a great country could and did emerge. Slowly a society was created out of the chaotic jumble of humanity dropped upon its doorstep through the establishment of institutions modeled after their British counterparts.
This report prepared by David Fletcher