A devastating flood on the Hawkesbury almost wipes out the young colony, bringing to the surface many secrets and desires in this masterpiece of historical fiction
Martin Sparrow is already struggling when the Hawkesbury’s great flood of March 1806 lays waste to him and his farm.
Luckless, lovelorn and deep in debt, the ex-convict is confronted with a choice. He can buckle down and set about his agricultural recovery, or he can heed the whispers of an earthly paradise on the far side of the mountains – a place where men are truly free – and strike out for a new life. But what chance of renewal is there for a man like Sparrow in either the brutal colony or the forbidding wilderness?
The decision he makes triggers a harrowing chain of events and draws in a cast of extraordinary characters, including Alister Mackie, the chief constable on the river; his deputy, Thaddeus Cuff; the vicious hunter, Griffin Pinney; the Romany girl, Bea Faa; and the young Aboriginal men, Caleb and Moowut’tin, caught between war and peace.
Set against the awe-inspiring immensity of the hinterland west of the Hawkesbury River, this epic of chance and endurance is an immersion into another time, a masterpiece of language and atmosphere. Rich, raw, strangely beautiful and utterly convincing,