'Tis now about two years and three months since we first arrived at this distant country; all this while we have been as it were buried alive ... our hopes are now almost vanished.'
The Reverend Richard Johnson 9 April 1790
This is the story of the first five years of the European settlement of Australia, of how a collection of petty criminals, the outcasts of an old society, were sent to establish a new society, on someone else's land, on a strange, unexplored continent, on the other side of the world.
The story is told by the people who were there, through their journals, diaries and letters home, and illustrated by some of the 800 sketches, drawings and watercolours dating from the first few years of the settlement.
It tells of the often surprising relationship with the Aboriginal people, the hunger as storeships failed to arrive, the horrors of the hangings and floggings, the intermarriage between officers and convict women, the life and customs of the Aboriginal people, and the gradual development of the settlement at Sydney Cove to a stage where it seemed likely to survive. Above all, perhaps, Buried Alive shows that in many ways, despite the different circumstances, they were ordinary people, not much different from us.
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