This book is a narrative of the first free settlers - the Exclusives, or Port Jackson Gentlemen. In reality few were gentlemen despite their pretensions, and they were a rough and tough bunch. They had to be to survive. Whether originally army officers and officials who stayed on, or settlers from the start, all were dependent upon convict labour, upon land grants, upon cunning and upon luck. If it was the labour of convicts which physically shaped the landscape of New South Wales in its early years, it was the pastoralists and traders who created the first wealth. In total they numbered barely twenty, until their sons came of age. They are an important part of early Australian history, because although they ultimately failed in their attempts at economic, political and social dominance, their failure was as important as many successes.
Overall they were an unruly, sometimes completely improbable, collection of adventurers, establishing a new home in a strange land. Nor had most of them any understanding of the Aborigines they were displacing, despite Governor Phillip's early efforts to achieve such an understanding. This said, they must be judged by the standards of their time, not ours, and they were true pioneers.
Richard Cox is the author of William Cox Blue Mountain Road Builder and Pastoralist published in 2012.He is the author of 12 novels and a number of works of non-fiction.