225 x 150 mm, 112 pages, 20 colour and 30 b&w illustrations
9781925078893, $19.95, Paperback
Captain James Colnett RN, edited by Allen Mawer
No mariner knew the wide Pacific better than James Colnett, RN. He had sailed with Cook; he had filibustered in the north-west Pacific fur trade (nearly starting a war with Spain in the process); he had made a whaling reconnaissance to the Galapagos Islands. On his last voyage, the journal of which is published here for the first time, he took convicts to Sydney Cove in 1802–03 on HMS Glatton and returned with shipbuilding timber.
Although the journal is an important record of a short-lived experiment using warships as convict transports, its wider interest lies in Colnett’s observations on New South Wales as he found it in 1803. He is probably unique in his inability to discern any redeeming feature in Sydney, not even its harbour. In fact he believed New Zealand a better prospect for a colony in the region. His description of New South Wales as mutinous was prophetic, but that did not translate into support for Governor King in his struggle to control the officers of the New South Wales Corps. To the contrary, Colnett was instrumental in having King recalled.
Ironically, King was replaced by a man who already had a bad record with mutineers: Captain Bligh of the Bounty would become Governor Bligh of the Rum Rebellion.
Granville Allen Mawer is an independent historian who refuses to be typecast. His major works, several of which have been shortlisted for Premier’s Awards and other important prizes, range from maritime and colonial history to local history and biography. He has been favourably reviewed in the Times Literary Supplement, the New York Times Book Review and the Australian Book Review. In 2011 Rosenberg published Diary of a Spitfire Pilot, his tribute to his father, who was killed in 1943 and after whom he is named.