For anyone who read my review in May last year, there will be some joy and much expectation that Cassandra Pybus’s book about Truganini (and George Augustus Robinson, the so-called Protector of Aborigines in Van Dieman’s Land at the time) has deservedly taken out the National Biography Award.
It was such a visceral read about the colonisation of what we now call Tasmania, that I concluded I’d find it hard to “revisit that soiled island any time again soon”.
Here’s a key paragraph:
“It’s such a powerful a book, I ended up demanding to know just who were these fellow-members of my race – from upright citizens like Governor Arthur and Richard Pybus to the syphilitic bounty-hunter, John Batman and the surprising number of freelance whalers and sealers operating way outside colonial limits, who would forcibly breed future generations of Tasmanian Aborigines by abducting the tribes’ wives and daughters. And why did these people seem so different from the ‘pioneers’ on the mainland – or were they just the same?”
‘Truganini – Journey Through the Apocalypse’ by Cassandra Pybus is published by Allen & Unwin at $33.