In 1835 John Batman sailed up the Yarra and was astonished by the beauty of the land. It was a temperate Kakadu, teeming with wildlife and with soils rich enough to spawn pastoral empires. With the discovery of gold, the city was transformed almost overnight into ‘marvellous Melbourne’. And yet, as Tim Flannery writes, the price paid was environmental ruin and the tragic loss of societies which had flourished on Port Phillip Bay for millennia.
The Birth of Melbourne includes voices that range from tribal elders to Chinese immigrants, from governors to criminals. Among many others, John Pascoe Fawkner, Georgiana McCrae, J. B. Were, Antoine Fauchery, Ned Kelly, Marcus Clarke, Anthony Trollope and Rudyard Kipling contribute to this biography of our most surprising city.
‘For me, a story is always more vivid when I can marry it to a particular place…I recommend this book to anyone with an affection for Melbourne and a lively interest in its past.’
‘It takes a local to spill the dirt on a city’s sordid past. Flannery has found other less-known documents that shed a surprising light on the secret life of a city often regarded as staid and conservative. Melbourne’s birth is presented as a tale of dispossession, slaughter and environmental destruction inflicted so swiftly through greed and mismanagement that it almost beggars belief.’
‘A rich insight into Melbourne’s colonial past.’
‘A truly fascinating book.’