Saturday, July 20, 2013


This book, 1788, is by Watkin Tench, written during his time as a marine office on the First Fleet and his experience of the arrival and his first four years in the Australian colony. Whilst originally published in 1789, and later parts published subsequently, this version has been edited by Tim Flannery.

Clearly, this book was a non-fiction, but it was written in a style that followed well and was very captivating. Either the language of 1788 translates very well, or Tim Flannery has done a great job in editing.
   I enjoyed this book a lot. Watkin Tench was, I think, a very studious observer and liberal thinker. His observations focus a lot on the environment and the Aboriginals. It was interesting to read and the real characters after which many of the Sydney landmarks are named - Bennelong (the site of the Sydney Opera House) and Barangaroo (the newest and most controversial Sydney harbour development) were in fact lovers, with Bennelong being one of the most approachable Aboriginals who learnt the language and customs of the whites the quickest, and then merged in and out of each culture as he chose.
   This book has actually left a very profound effect on me - I always thought that the first settlors were stumbling fools and quite ignorant. Watkin Tench has changed this for me, and in a way, I think he is now one of my heros. I just wish that more of our founders were like him.

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