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Edited and introduced by Tim Flannery
I do not hesitate to declare that the natives of New South Wales possess a considerable portion of that acumen, or sharpness of intellect, which bespeaks genius.
In 1788 Watkin Tench stepped ashore at Botany Bay with the First Fleet. This curious young captain of the marines was an effortless storyteller. His account of the infant colony is the first classic of Australian literature.
‘Not to have read Watkin Tench is not to know early Australia. An eye that noticed everything, a young man’s verve, a sly wit, an elegant prose style—all brought to bear on an unimagined place and a very strange micro-society. This is the most readable classic of early Australian history.’
‘Tench will always remain the classic contemporary witness of our beginnings.’
‘Tench’s work is a stunning time machine.’
‘His record sparkles with precision, each word so apt.’