New book: The Convict in the Valley
The Convict in the Valley by Mark Dunn uncovers the rich colonial past behind the prosperous vineyards of today’s Hunter Valley, and the toil of the convicts who laid its foundations.
In 1790, five convicts escaped Sydney by boat and were swept ashore near present-day Newcastle. They were taken in by the Worimi people, given Aboriginal names and started families. Thus began a long and at times dramatic series of encounters between Aboriginal people and convicts in the second penal settlement in Australia.
The fertile valley of the Hunter River was the first area outside the Sydney basin explored by the British, and it became one of the largest penal settlements.
The Convict Valley uncovers this rich colonial past, as well as the story of the original Aboriginal landholders. While there were friendships and alliances in the early years, in the later scramble for land in the 1820s – as the Valley was opened to free settlers – tensions rose and bloodshed ensued.
With fascinating stories about convicts, white settlers and the Aboriginal inhabitants that have long been forgotten, The Convict Valley is a new Australian history classic.