An Australian Story

“William Charker, for your part in the burglary of the dwelling of Thomas Evans at St. Mary Lambeth and stealing goods to the value of £33.60 you are hereby sentenced, along with your accomplice, to 7 years transportation to the colony of New South Wales.”

William Charker
William Charker was born in Winchester, Hampshire, England on 16th of December, 1774. The fourteenth child of a family of fifteen, his father, Edward Charker, a Tallow Chandler and his mother Elizabeth (nee Barr). The Charkers were wealthy traders and yeoman farmers and so William well educated and independent. On the 7th of December, 1800 he inexplicably became involved (with an accomplice) in a substantial burglary at the dwelling house of Thomas Evans at St Mary Lambeth stealing goods to the value of £33.6.0.

The two were arrested and tried on 25th of March, 1801 at the Surrey Assizes. Each sentenced to only seven years even though their crime being a capital offence. At his trial, his name given as William Charker, alias William Chalker, was is the first known use of the alias which became his general name in Australia, except on Legal Documents and Government Correspondence where he always used Charker.

William had known a little about New South Wales. He had said to Thomas “my knowledge amounted to little more than that after being discovered by the explorer James Cook in 1770,” New South Wales had become an alternate for transportation destination of convicts as the Americans were no longer willing to have convicts dumped there after their War of Independence in in1776.

Transportation had become a viable alternate both physical and financial to storing the excess prisoners that there was no longer room in the overcrowded prisons. The short term solution of holding prisoners in prison hulks moored in the rivers of southern England.

Hulks were retired naval or merchant ships that would still float but considered unseaworthy. In most cases, all the upper superstructure (Masts, etc.) had been removed and most of the below deck space converted into gaol cells. Because of the poor condition of the hulks, more guards were necessary as well as the continual outbreaks of disease created an unacceptable risk to the greater population.

Transportation costs would be about the same cost as keeping prisoners in hulks but once they arrived in New South Wales they could be put to work and the colony would become self-sufficient in a short time. Additionally, as there was no danger of escape back into the English general population, it became possible to cut a large number of guards.

On the 6th of December 1785, Orders in Council were issued in London for the establishment of a penal colony in New South Wales, on land claimed by Britain by explorer James Cook in his first voyage to the Pacific in 1770.

The First Fleet is the name given to the 11 ships which left Great Britain on the 13th of May 1787 to found a penal colony that became the first European settlement in Australia. The fleet consisted of two Royal Navy vessels, three store ships, and six convict transports, carrying more than one thousand convicts, marines and seamen, and a vast quantity of stores. From England, the Fleet sailed southwest to Rio de Janeiro, then east to Cape Town and via the Great Southern Ocean to Botany Bay, arriving in mid-January 1788, taking two hundred and fifty-two days from departure to final arrival.

William went first to the County Gaol and then on to the prison hulk HMS Protée. Protée started as a sixty-four gun ship of the line of the French Navy, launched in 1772. Captured by the Royal Navy on the 24th of February 1780 and converted to serve as a prison ship in 1799, then finally broken up in 1815.

William surveyed his surroundings and later he would recall to his children.

“The conditions on board the floating gaols were appalling; the standards of hygiene were so poor that disease spread quickly. The living quarters were so bad that it was like living in a sewer. The hulks were cramped, and we had to sleep in fetters. We had to live on one deck that was barely high enough to let a man stand. The officers lived in cabins in the stern.”

“When on arriving on board, we were all at once stripped and washed in two large tubs of water, then, after putting on a suit of coarse slop clothing, we were put in irons and sent below with our own clothes being taken from them.”

“We now were poorly dressed as well as unhealthy. They were supposed to give us a linen shirt, a brown jacket and a pair of breeches but the men who controlled the ships usually pocketed the money the government had given for our clothes.”

“Six-hundred of us were confined in this floating dungeon nearly, most of us were double-ironed, and I saw the horrible effects arising from the continual rattling of chains, the filth and vermin naturally produced by such a crowd of miserable inhabitants, the oaths and execrations regularly heard amongst them…. The sick were given little medical attention and were not separated from the healthy.”

“I felt elated when finally in January 1802, I was transferred to the convict transport Coromandel. Us convicts were housed below decks on the prison deck and often further confined behind bars. In many cases, we were restrained in chains and only allowed on deck for fresh air and exercise. Conditions were cramped, and we slept in hammocks.”

“We departed from Spithead in company with the Perseus on 12 February 1802.”

As soon as they cleared, England conditions aboard improved. They were now no longer considered a threat of escape, and so the restrictions were somewhat eased.

As they sailed south to and past the Canary Islands, the daily routine was beginning to set in. At four in the early morning, the prisoner cooks (three in numbers) were admitted on deck and at five-thirty. The captain of his division (the convict nominated as a senior convict) joined the other captains on the upper deck for the purpose of filling wash tubs while the remaining prisoners commenced taking up their beds and hammocks. By six, William and the first half of the prisoners were admitted for the purpose of washing their person. Within half an hour the other half were allowed to wash. Breakfast was at eight and during breakfast, the ship’s crew were cleaning upper deck and water closets

While heading southwards across the Atlantic to Rio de Janeiro, they ran into the first of many storms.

William managed to keep his food down, but the ship became awash with vomit. The seasoned sailors joked about how convicts predicament. It must be realised that the majority of the convicts had never been to sea and were still recovering from the cramped conditions aboard the prison hulks.

Aboard the Ship were several families of free settlers, but as they were kept separate from all the convicts, William knew nothing about them. He wondered what people would voluntary take their family to this unknown place that reportedly had very few refinements and facilities.

William recalled;
“The clouds seem to rise from the water, turning day into night. Then suddenly the wind began to howl, and initially the ship lurched dangerously to starboard before the helmsman could correct the list. I thought that we were goners. Then came the driving rain, It was so fierce I was sure it was cutting into the deck timbers above them. The unbearable stench of the vomit from my fellow prisoners seemed to cover the whole deck. We would have preferred to be on deck instead of in that hell hole we were confined.”

The storm abated after about 10 hours and then the weather calmed. The days were becoming warmer as the travelled through the tropics and the many tropical storms did not seem as bad as that first one not long after they sailed past the Canary Islands.

The daily routine continued and to Williams first surprise as well as cleaning and general “housekeeping duties” there was a regular schooling and religious instruction. He could not figure out if this were to subdue the convicts and keep discipline or did the authorities think that a better education and religious training would cause them to “change their bad habits.”

Not long after he sighted land off Brazil, he noted that the course turned to south-eastward and followed the westerly winds across the Atlantic to the Cape.

The seas were beginning to roughen up, and the temperature had dropped, but it was still a lot warmer than when they had left England.

The journey across the southern Atlantic was reasonably uneventful until they drew nearer to the Cape. The wind increased dramatically causing the ship to pitch and roll. Even the sight of land on the port side did little to raise the spirits of William although after they had sailed a day into the Indian Ocean, the weather improved.

It was during this time that one of the convicts became violently ill and despite the efforts of the crew, he passed away.

It amazed William to how all the crew and every convict lined the decks while the poor soul was given a decent burial at sea.

“We all lined the deck. Prisoners, officers, crew as well as the free settlers. The body was on a plank leaning over the side and covered with the Queen’s flag. As the captain said those words that committed the body to the sea, two of the crew raised one end of the plank, and the lifeless body slid from underneath the flag and into the deep.”

In reflection, William pondered as to how different the voyage was as compared to the horrific stories that had been circulation in the gaols and prison hulks in England.

He noted that the crew at no time had acted as guards, and a few of the crew showed great symphony for the convict’s predicament. He had also admired the respect that the crew had shown the female convicts and how some of them entertained the children of the female convicts.

By the end of May they had crossed the Indian Ocean and at times over the next few weeks, they kept seeing land to the north of the port beam.

The land kept on appearing as they turned north and there was an air of excitement mixed the in trepidation of what lay ahead.

Finally, on the 13th of July 1808, they sailed into Port Jackson.

As they sailed through the heads, the captain decided to allow groups of convicts on deck. Each group was allowed fifteen minutes. The captain knew that if he kept them confined he would run the risk of rioting because if they saw a glimpse of their destination, they would start to relax and possibly an air of excitement would replace the feelings of despair some must have been feeling.

“It was unbelievable.” William later recalled “This big harbour that seemed to go for miles. The soft green grass behind the mixture of rocky shores and small golden beaches and the thick bushland behind the shores made this place seem like paradise.”

They had sailed nonstop, the first convict ship to do so, Governor King on the 9th August 1802 was so impressed with the treatment and the condition of the prisoners that he wrote the following report:-

“The healthy state in which the Coromandel and Perseus arrived requires my particularly pointing out the masters of those ships to your notice. It appears by the log books, surgeon's diaries and the unanimous voice of every person on board those ships that the utmost kindness to the convicts. This, with the proper application of the comforts Government had so liberally provided for them and the good state of health all the people were in, induced the master of the Coromandel to proceed without stopping at any port. He arrived here in four months and one day, bringing every person in a state of high health, and fit for actual labour.And although it appears that the Perseus necessarily stopped at Rio and the Cape, yet the convicts were in as good condition as those on board the Coromandel. Nor can I omit the great pleasure felt by myself and the other visiting officers at the thanks expressed by the prisoners and passengers for the kind attention and care they had received from the masters and surgeons, who returned, an unusual quantity of the articles laid in by Government for the convicts during the voyage.”

Sydney Town

William’s first sight of Sydney Cove was as they were disembarking at the rickety wharf.
“I was amazed at how the settlement had developed after only 14 years. Although rudimentary it was a thriving village.”

William was at first extremely unsteady on his feet due in part to a long sea voyage on rolling seas but also with the cramped conditions on board.

“The smells of shore are amazing. Clean, crisp air, the pleasant aromas of real food cooking but most importantly the lack of stench from humans living so close for so long. I could begin to see that it wasn’t going to be as bad as I had thought to live in this so called hell hole. I see that it may be possible eventually to have a real life in this colony if I behaved myself.”

Much of the town's buildings and infrastructure were centred on the military. The stores and trade were managed mainly be members of the New South Wales Corps and the whole town had a “garrison town” feeling about it.

“My initial thoughts are that the officers New South Wales Corps, seem to have too much influence over the running of the colony and appears that the governor’s office is just to rubber-stamp their decisions. Even the granting of pardons, as well as the allocation of land, seemed to be in the hands of the Corp’s officers.”

“My first night on land is an eerie experience. The lack of movement of the sea along with the entirely different sounds makes falling asleep terrible.”
“Awaking in the morning to the sounds of the native birds chirping along with the clatter of a bustling colony preparing for the task of the day was music to my ears.”

William was assigned shortly after his arrival, to work as a farm labourer for Jonas Archer and Mary Kearns at Mulgrave Place in the Hawkesbury district.

As he travelled to the farm, he was bewildered by the sights and sounds that he encountered.

“My first glance of kangaroos and other native animals give me discomfort although the aboriginals are causing me even more.”

As it turned out before long, he would build a bond and understanding with the local tribes that would lead to a long and peaceful relationship. It was unfortunate that all the settlers were unable to establish this relationship, and distrust disintegrated into bloodshed on many occasions.

Mary Kearns had been convicted of theft in Dublin in 1792 and was sentenced to 7 years transportation. She arrived in Sydney on 17 September 1793 aboard the "Sugarcane".

After completing her sentence, she was granted 65 acres of land in the Hawkesbury area at Green Hills, now known as Windsor.

She had been joined by her lover Jonas Archer and together they had started up clearing for the farm. Jonas was subordinate to Mary as he probably was reminded on many occasions that it was Mary’s grant and, therefore, her farm.

“It was incredible that in two short years, Mary and Jonas were able to clear the land and build a moderately successful farm on these river flats about 20 miles away from Sydney Harbour. Mary was a hard worker, and yet at the same time a very attractive woman, who was trying to build a real future regardless of her poor start.”

Having William assigned to their farm was a Godsend. William was a hard worker and built trust with them. He was always able to make positive improvements, and because he had been raised on farms by his yeoman farmer parents he had a natural gift for mixed farming. “If we plant the vegetable patch between the house and the storage shed, we should have more control over where the animals may roam,” he remarked to Mary shortly after his arrival.

Jonas, on the other hand, had a dislike for farming as well he was proving to be a liability with an extremely bad business attributes.

This untimely led to in 1803, Jonas Archer fled to avoid his creditors and Mary became the sole owner of the farm. Mary always had a liking for William, so it was no surprise that in a short time after Jonas left, she married William. The farm was then known as Chalker’s Farm.

The Rum Corps vs. Governor Bligh
Governor William Bligh reached Sydney on 6th August 1806. He had been sent to replace Governor King, who was looking forward to returning to England. (It was thought that he was disappointed that during his time in office, the officers of the corps had overridden his authority and left him somewhat dejected.

Bligh had a reputation for being extremely autocratic, and he did suffer insubordination from anyone at all.

Losing control of the HMS Bounty to his crew 20 years previous had made him even more ruthless.

Bligh had discovered to his dismay on his arrival that the New South Wales Corps ran most of the commerce under the command of Major George Johnson with the close cooperation of a former officer and now grazier and merchant John McArthur.

Resident farmers of the Hawkesbury region, in particular, had complained to Bligh about the high prices being charged by the Corps for staple goods. The restrictions on availability of mutton by McArthur and, therefore, the high prices for meat further raised their concerns along with the fact that the Corps had attempted to introduce alcoholic liquor (that the Corps had full control of) as a currency. This led the Corps being often referred to as “The Rum Corps” The name being a misnomer as whiskey was the only alcohol used as currency.

Bligh started to attempt to stop these practices and tried to restrict the commercial activities of the Corps but had little success. The impasse continued until on the 26th January 1808 Major Johnson (egged on by McArthur) led a troop in full military regalia accompanied by the regimental band to government house and arrest Bligh. Major Johnson installed himself as the acting governor.

For just under two years Bligh remained under guard until Lachlan Macquarie arrived to assume the position of Governor.

Macquarie was the first non-naval governor and just before his arrival the New South Wales Corps (now known as the 102 regiment of foot) was recalled to England and replaced by the 73 regiment of foot. Major Johnson was court marshalled in England while McArthur was put on trial in Sydney.

Through all this William mostly ignored what was happening in Sydney as he was still a convict and he needed to keep away from controversy for fear of being relocated to another work area. He did, however, hold contempt for the Rum Corps and even more for Bligh, who seemed too weak to control them.

By 1806, they were prospering, but all was about to change with a devastating flood in March of that year in which the settlers lost everything that could not be quickly moved to higher ground. William was driving his stock when he heard the call “HELP.” Looking toward the overflowing river, he saw three of his neighbours struggling in the torrent along with a small child. Without pausing, William ran to the riverbank where his little boat was tied up and rowed out to the middle of the river. He rowed to the child first and after he was aboard William then rowed to save the three men in turn. When it overturned, the adults drowned, but William swam to the shore with the child on his back.

He was rewarded with a Conditional Pardon in August 1806. Conditional pardon meant that although free he was not able to leave the colony until his pardon became absolute. To be pardoned said that William was no longer to be regarded as a thief sentenced to 7 years, but instead, a free man whereas Mary was always to be considered as an ex-criminal.
The Blue Mountains
After the harvest of 1806-7, their marriage ended with a legal separation notified in the Sydney Gazette of July 1807.

The marriage had endured only three years. When it ended, William left took only his horse and left all other property and goods with Mary.

William was granted an Absolute Pardon on April 7th, 1808.

He was now free to return to England but instead chose to remain and enter employment with Gregory Blaxland as his farm overseer, probably at his Brush Farm property and later at his more extensive South Creek holding. William made a good supervisor and had built himself a reputation as a hard worker and a very honest employee.

Along with his Absolute Pardon, William received a grant of 30 acres of land at the Cooks River but did not take up the grant. Instead, in August 1812, he applied for and received a grant of sixty acres at South Creek. The South Creek farm was used mostly to raise cattle while he pursued his other sources of income.

After leaving the employ of Blaxland, he also worked as an overseer for William Lawson at Prospect from 1810 to 1814.

Lawson and Wentworth, as well as being neighbours, were good friends. They were both visionaries who saw the need for the colony’s further expansion in the area. The Blue Mountains to the west had become a barrier to this development of the settlement which was now requiring more farming land to meet its needs, particularly after the droughts of 1812 and 1813.

“The local Indigenous people know at least two routes by which to cross the mountains,” William told Blaxland. The first was along Bilpin Ridge, later followed by Archibald Bell with the assistance of the local Darug people (now the location of Bells Line of Road), and the second was along Cox’s River.

Unfortunately too many of the landholders and free settlers would not believe William as they had all come to distrust the aboriginal people.

Some even believed that the aboriginals were of a sub-human race and therefore not capable of knowing such things. William had long since made friends with a lot of them and as such he appreciated their knowledge of the land. However, he was unable to influence those around him to allow the aboriginals to show the way.

Until 1813 however, the settlers remained unaware of how to cross the mountains, despite several attempts, including two by Blaxland himself. Early in 1813 Blaxland, who wanted more grazing land, obtained the approval of Governor Lachlan Macquarie and approached Lawson and Wentworth to secure their participation in a new exploratory expedition following the mountain ridges.

“Mr. Lawson was able to go with the other two knowing all too well that his farm was being looked after by me,” William told his son at a later date.

Blaxland, Wentworth, and Lawson led an expedition party, which included four servants, four pack horses, and five dogs. Two of the four men who assisted the party have been identified as James Burne, a guide and kangaroo hunter, and Samuel Fairs, a convict who arrived in Australia in 1809. The two others also thought to be convicts, remain unidentified.

The party left from Blaxland's South Creek farm near the modern suburb of St Marys in western Sydney, on 11 May 1813 and crossed the Nepean River later that day. They made their way over the mountains, following the ridges, and completed the crossing in twenty-one days. The explorers' success has been attributed to the methodical approach and decision to travel on the ridges instead of through the valleys. The three explorers and two of their servants would set out each day, leaving the other two men at their campsite, and mark out a trail, before turning back later in the day to cut a path for the horses and allow the rest of the party to progress.

The party first saw the plains beyond the mountains from Mount York. They continued to Mount Blaxland 25 km south of the site of Lithgow, on the western side of the mountains. From this point, Blaxland declared there was enough forest or grassland “to support the stock of the colony for thirty years,” while Lawson called it "the best-watered Country of any I have seen in the Colony.” The party then turned back, making the return journey in six days.

Synopsis
This is the story of one Australian family whose history beginning in 1808 and up to 1998. Their heritage, along with that of the world they lived in, made them remarkable people. Although this story is based on real people and events fiction needs to be included to “fill in the gaps” not recorded. As indeed many names have been changed and other events needed to be deleted in respect for living family members. This is a story of the history of Australia as it affected the family through the generation. It is a story that commemorates the supreme sacrifices during war and hardship while at the same time giving pride at the achievements of her family and her country.
After retiring to Queensland's Sunshine Coast in 2014, Gordon took in interest in researching his family. He discovered links back to the 1400's and even a distant link to the Royal Family of United Kingdom.

Review by By Grady Harp HALL OF FAMETOP 100 REVIEWER VINE VOICE

July 22, 2015

Australian author Gordon Smith has spent most of his life in sales, public transport and Traffic Management, managing traffic movements through and around major road work sites through out Queensland, his last project was as Traffic Project Manager on the construction of the Gold Coast Light Rail throughout the City of Gold Coast. Gordon retired to Queensland's Sunshine Coast in 2014 and started to take in interest in researching his family. He discovered links back to the 1400's and even a distant link to the Royal Family of United Kingdom. During his research he discovered that he had 6 relatives who fought in the Great War. He knew about his relatives in the 2nd World War but knew nothing about the men in his family who had fought in the Great War. As he has stated, `My Grandparents had 4 brothers and 2 cousins in the Great War. The more I found out about them while researching my family tree it became obvious that a book MUST be written to honour them in particularly for my children, grandchildren as well as all my cousins and their children. It is also an honour to share their story with the world.' That book was Gordon’s first – a brief memoir he titled FROM THE FAMILY THAT WENT TO WAR. That was the nidus for this new book – AN AUSTRALIAN STORY – and this volume reflects his rather profound research, a rather magnum opus of Australian history over two centuries worthy of careful study.

As with his first book, Gordon sets both a mood and a respectful homage in his Preface: ‘What makes a family? It could be said their genes, their heritage, their environment, their faith or a mixture of all of these. This is the story of one Australian family whose history and heritage along with the world that they lived in made some remarkable people. Although this story is based on real people and events fiction needs to be included to “fill in the gaps” that were not recorded. As indeed some names have been changed and some events have been deleted in respect for living family members. This is a story of the history of Australia as it affected the family through the generation. It is a story that commemorates the supreme sacrifices during war and hardship while at the same time giving pride at the achievements of her family and her country.’

How does one summarize a timeline of this length? By not trying to distill it but instead by visiting portions as the author develops them. THE EARLY YEARS opens with the sentencing of one William Charker for burglary in New South Wale in 1774 and it is through his eyes that we see the development of that portion of the country – transportation, prisons or penal colonies, the Royal Navy ship converted to a prison ship (‘Conditions on board the floating goals were appalling. The standards of hygiene were so poor that disease spread quickly. The living quarters were so bad that it was like living in a sewer. The hulks were cramped and we had to sleep in fetters. We had to live on one deck that was barely high enough to let a man stand up. The officers lived in cabins in the stern etc). It is this blending of fact with flavor that makes this book so savory.

The book is sectioned by the characters of the family, each portion adding realistic enactment of the times. By documenting family members we are introduced to the various sections of the history – the nineteenth century, World War One, Peace in the 1920s, the 1930s with the harbinger of European war again, the family members who were off to World War II as depicted through their diaries (separated into Charlie’s war in Tobruk/Greece/Crete, Roy’s war as the Japanese advance, Bill Power’s war, and Scotty’s war – each intensely detailed). Gordon takes us though the changes of post war Australia and on through the periods of the 1970s, 1980s, and 1990s – with the final entry being, ‘Marie Joan Smith nee Power passed away in her sleep at the Ballarat Base Hospital on Saturday the 4th of July 1998. One hundred and ninety-six years had passed from when her great-great-great-grandfather (William Chalker) arrived in Australia as a convict.’

It is a fine tie in to the opening of the epic and completes a book that shares more about the history and idiosyncrasies and importance of Australia as a country worthy of profound respect. Highly recommended. Grady Harp, July 15

5 Stars For An Amazing Read By Veronica
August 3, 2015

An Australian Story, by Gordon Smith, was a fantastic read that I couldn't put down. The classical phrase, "don't judge a book by It's cover" definitely applies here. I wasn't expecting too much from this one, but I was pleasantly surprised. It's evident that Smith has a ton of talent, and really knows his stuff.

There really is a lot going on in this novel. However, despite that, It's easy to follow along with and keep up with. It starts off with a preface, which gives readers an idea of what the book is going to be about. This is a story about an Australian family, whose history and heritage along with the world they lived in made them remarkable people. We are then told that this is a story based on real events, but there is still some fiction involved in order to fill in any blanks that were left behind. The beginning of this story gives us a look on the history of Australia, and how people used to live back in the day.

What I loved most about this book is that it is sectioned off by each character involved within the family. Many different time periods are introduced that way, which really makes it even more exciting. It begins in 1880, and ends in 1998. I was so intrigued by the way the times changed during this huge time period, and saddened by the events at the same time. This family endured so much, between hardship and loss, and love and courage. Truly inspirational.

This is a must read of any history fan. Definite 5 stars.


Worth reading about the settlement of Australia and 200 years of its history.
By Carol W. Rideron December 2, 2015

As a person who has visited Australia several times, and will go again, I was interested in the relationship between Australia and England, based on it's replacement of the Georgia Penal colony that England lost with the American Revolution, and the pride that Australians show in the heritage of their convict ancestors who came to Australia and stayed and settled the land. They also show considerable lack of interest in what goes on in England. For example, when the marriage of Prince William took place we were on a lengthy cruise with a shipload of Australians. They were not one bit interested in watching the video we were getting on the ship of all the festivities and news reports; we were interested and watched much of it. They just didn't seem to be feeling connected to that story. Also, we were told that when Churchill refused to send Australian soldiers back to defend their homeland after the Japanese attacked Darwin in early 1942, the American sent a large number of troops over and this stopped the feared Japanese invasion. The Battle of the Coral Sea, an early American victory in World War II, was fought just off the NE coast of Australia, turning back any Japanese attack on Australia or New Zealand.
Because I had learned all of this in my travels to Australia, I was interested in reading about these settlers and their descendants. The book was a bit hard to follow, all the generations and relationships as the family's time in Australia passed the 200 year mark. However, it told me a lot about the history of the early convict-settlers and their time spent to settle the country and people it with hard-working descendants of those early convicts. I found the information about the participation of the ANZAC forces in the fight against Japan in SE Asia, which I was not aware of previously. Also, my father served on McArthur's staff in Australia and shared memories of the wonderful people he came to know there.


A Stunning, Generation-Spanning Epic By Veritas Vincit "Bill"

on August 5, 2015

When it comes to comprehensive history books, particularly when they are focused on individual families or cities, rather than broader subjects about the nation and the world, I can sometimes click off, losing interest in the minor details of lives. However, Smith has managed to bring the microcosm of a fascinating and complicated family in line with the macrocosm of global history over the course of more than a century. The intense detailed connection between world history and the goings-on of this family were illustrated perfectly, and I felt the tone of the book, the speech of the characters, the reactions to certain stimuli, the societal roles, and the evolving conflicts grow as time passed. In the same way that Gabriel Garcia Marquez and Faulkner mastered the art of familial narratives, Smith has similarly captured a spark of brilliance in his writing and in this epic story. I know these people; I have watched them grow and live and struggle and die and exist within a changing landscape so beautifully provided by Mr. Smith. This is one of the better books I've read in a long time, and I will be certain to recommend this one to others. Not to be missed.


A Comprehensive and Well-Conceived History by John Staughton

9 August 2015


This is a story of redemption and turmoil, violence and ambition, love and loss, and of course, Australia. This is quite an epic piece of writing, and the only thing that drew me to it was my recent interest in traveling to Australia and checking out the place for a while. I was searching for any interesting reading about the country and stumbled across this. This appealed to my literary side as well, because the story sounded so interesting, and I thought that it would put me in the proper mindset to really start making decisions about my trip. I am still just as undecided, but I have gained a hell of a lot of appreciation for the Australian landscape, and quite a bit of love for Gordon Smith along the way. He crafts a long-winded, but beautifully crafted story of a family through half a dozen generations, in a way that few authors would date to undertake. Not only that, he balanced family dynamics and a rich narrative with some of the most impactful events in modern history. There was a wealth of research behind this book to make so much of it so believable, and for that alone, I would respect the author and give him five stars. However, what really pushed this book over the edge of great for me was his diligent character work - bringing these people to life for us, his readers, as we watch them grow as individuals and evolve as a family unit. Truly Impressive Stuff!

A Well Researched Story With Heart

By Marta Tandori -


13th August 2015


An Australian Story by Gordon Smith is exactly that: a story about an Australian family that spans almost two centuries. What I found particularly interesting was that most of the earliest settlers to Australia had been former convicts who had been granted land once they had served their prison sentences. Let me say first off that I did not like the beginning of the book because there wasn’t really a proper introduction, so to speak, which sets the stage for the book. What I mean by that was that I wasn’t sure whether I was reading a book of fiction or whether I was reading a history book. Quite frankly, the book read like a history text book rather than a work of fiction. Having said that, An Australian Story was really interesting for several reasons. Each character was presently in richly compelling detail and the author’s descriptions of settings seemed to jump off the page, transporting me to that period in time. Furthermore, with the introduction of each new character, the reader gets a glimpse into another part of history and the events which shaped each character’s life. It’s clear that the author has spent a great deal of time researching his subject matter and for any readers interested in the history of Australia, An Australian Story is definitely for them.


​5.0 out of 5.0 stars

Kenneth Allen reviewed An Australian Story: The saga of an Australian Family over two centuries

Loved it, had me wanting it not to end 18 August 2015
Loved it,had me wanting it not to end.



5.0 out of 5 stars
By Sophia Costigan on February 17, 2016 Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
"I really enjoyed the story"



5.0 out of 5 stars
Enterlprising
ByAmazon Customer on February 16, 2016 Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This is a wonderful story encompassing the life history of a family throughout the generations. I found it very interesting and colourful in its description of each members" chosen path in life. Very well worth the read and I would recommend it to anyone interested in learning about our history and how well all coped with life in general

An Australian Story Book Trailer

This is the story of one Australian family whose history beginning in 1808 and up to 1998.
Their heritage, along with that of the world they lived in, made them remarkable people.
Although this story is based on real people and events fiction needs to be included to “fill in