He worked on a barge on the Thames River and, one day, he stole a load of timber. He was condemned to death but in 1806, he was included in a shipload of convicts sent to Australia.
Will was married to Sal and she was able to also travel to Australia. England had established a claim to Australia and was interested in beginning a settlement there. The descriptions of the early days of Australia were fascinating to me.
As you can imagine, there were conflicts with the Darug people, who had been living in Australia for thousands of years. Some of the settlers saw them as 'savages' and treated them brutally.
Will and his wife Sal tried to find ways to co-exist, but Will was persuaded to join an attack on the Aborigines to settle the problems once and for all. The confrontation was brutal and Will was tormented by his actions.
Although Will prospered in Australia, he was never really happy . Quote:"This bench here, where he could overlook all his wealth and take his ease, should have been the reward. He could not understand why it did not feel like triumph."
He had gained the world, but lost his soul.
I loved the main characters- Will and Sal. Sal was amazing- loving, supportive but also strong willed. Their relationship was a delight to read as they faced such hardships and danger.
Today our library book club will be discussing this book and we will be focussing on the relationship of the colonists and the Aborigines over the years. In 2008, the prime minister of Australia made a public apology for the brutal treatment of the Aboriginal people. You can see his speech here: