Author(s): Mark Dunn
In 1790, five convicts escaped Sydney by boat and were swept ashore near present day Newcastle. They were taken in by the Worimi people, given Aboriginal names and started families. Thus began a long and at times dramatic series of encounters between Aboriginals and convicts in the second settlement in Australia. The fertile valley of the Hunter river was the first area outside of Sydney explored by the British, and it became one of the largest penal settlements. Yet today manicured lawns and prosperous vineyards hide the struggles, violence and toil of the thousands of convicts who laid its foundations. The Convict Valley uncovers this rich colonial past, as well as the story of the original Aboriginal landholders. While there were friendships and alliances in the early years, in the mad scramble for land in the 1820s as the Valley was opened to free settlers, tensions increased and bloodshed ensued. With fascinating stories about convicts, white settlers and the Aboriginal inhabitants that have long been forgotten, The Convict Valley is a new Australian history classic.
‘Mark Dunn’s Convict Valley is a finely detailed and meticulously researched study of the Hunter Valley. Interweaving its Aboriginal, convict and mining past, Dunn reveals the missing and misunderstood complexities of these histories as a gifted storyteller.’ Professor John Maynard, The University of Newcastle
Mark Dunn is a public historian and former chair of the Professional Historians Association of NSW and ACT. He is descended from convicts who settled in the Hunter, and he has spent two decades investigating the history, heritage and archaeology of the region.