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Just after Christmas 1803, convict William Buckley fled an embryonic settlement in the land of the Kulin nation (now the Port Phillip area), to take his chances in the wilderness. A few months later, the local Aboriginal people found the six-foot-five former soldier near death. Believing he was a lost kinsman returned from the dead, they took him in, and for 32 years Buckley lived as a Wadawurrung man, learning his adopted tribe's language, skills and methods to survive.

The outside world finally caught up with Buckley in 1835, after John Batman, a bounty hunter from Van Diemen's Land, arrived in the area, seeking to acquire and control the perfect pastureland around the bay. What happened next saw the Wadawurrung betrayed and Buckley eventually broken. The theft of Kulin country would end in the birth of a city. The frontier wars had begun.

By the best-selling author of The Ship That Never Was, The Ghost and The Bounty Hunter is a fascinating and poignant true story from Australian colonial history.

©2020 Adam Courtenay (P)2020 Bolinda Publishing

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  • Freddo
  • 27-06-20

Fresh and captivating insights into the ‘real’ history of Australia

I loved Adam Courtenay’s first book, ‘ The Ship That Never Was’ and was looking forward to this one, his latest release. A more serious, poignant story was told in this work about the anti-hero Buckley and his life with the Wadawurrang people compared with the great escape tale of Porter and co of ‘The Ship...’. But it’s handled once again with such skill, balance and humanity that I’m sure it will go down as one of the great works in Australian historical writing to explore the truths (as best they can be discovered) of the destruction by stealth of the Indigenous way of life in south eastern Australia. The thing I admire most about this author’s works is his vivid, gripping and very human account of the sophistication with which the authorities of the time and their mercenary accomplices organised themselves to successfully achieve their colonising objectives with such breathtaking and efficient brutality. Another great book from Adam Courtenay - looking forward to the next one.