45,000 YEARS AGO-1836
Aboriginal Australians thrive and leave their marks on every corner on the driest, inhabited continent on Earth for at least 50,000 years. They meet challenges unique to this place – like the marsupial lion that’s the world’s deadliest mammalian carnivore. To Europeans, Australia is Terra Incognita, an unknown land at the bottom of the world. When 800 British convicts and their guards come to stay, worlds collide. The colonial experiment almost starves and fails when it’s barely begun. James Ruse is one of many burglars but the colony’s only farmer. He must grow European crops in the strange Australian soil or the colony will starve. They fight American interlopers for the profits of their first resource boom. Under freedom fighter Pemulwuy the First Australians seek to drive the British back. And, in their own rebellion, the colonists fight Governor William Bligh’s blinkered vision of what Australia might become – a revolution with its roots in rum. A daring escape from the wilds of Tasmania hints at the possibility of a free country that might surpass the penal colonies.