AUTHOR David Hill returned to familiar territory yesterday for the Orange launch of his latest book which he says is designed to give an accurate account of the race to chart Australia’s coastline.
Mr Hill said when he was a student, and even today, schoolchildren receive a skewed version of the British involvement in the charting of the coastline, with little reference to the intense rivalry between the French and the British who sent ships south on the perilous journey.
“At the time Matthew Flinders, who was sent by the British, or Nicolas Boudin, sent by the French, had any idea of the 4000 kilometres which lay between the east and west coast of Australia.
“They really didn’t even know if it was one continent,” Mr Hill said.
Mr Hill said it was during the research for his second novel, 1788, which gave a colourful insight into the life of the first fleeters, the seed was planted to further explore the impact of the French and to a lesser extent the Dutch explorers who first came in contact with our continent.
Mr Hill said in writing his book, called The Great Race, he has reflected on the hardship of all those who took to sea to discover foreign lands hundreds of years ago.
“Not only was it an incredibly tough life for all concerned, who had nothing on board with them but a small bag of few possessions, for the women left behind whose husbands were away for two or three years at a time, it had a huge impact,” he said.
“When you consider their rations and diet were so poor, it was probably the half pint of rum they were allocated on board each day which kept them in something of a stupor most of the time which would have made for an interesting experience in a gale in the middle of the night,” he said.
Mr Hill’s first book called The Forgotten Children was a chronicle of his life as a boy at Fairbridge Farm.
He then wrote The Gold Rush and 1788 for Random House.
And is there another book in the pipeline?
“Yes certainly, but I haven’t settled on the subject yet,” he said.