Rum, Rebels & Ratbags is history not for the faint-hearted. Historian and author of 'Girt' David Hunt and ABC Radio Sydney's Dom Knight uncover the characters and events left out of your high school history class.
Mothers of a nation
Women in the convict colony initially had a hard life, but for many New South Wales presented undreamed of opportunities. They had a greater say in relationships, property, business and government policy than back in Britain, so it is no surprise Australia was a world leader in women’s suffrage.
Let's call it Macquarie
Lachlan Macquarie was a hard drinking, penny pinching Scottish army officer with syphilis and an impressive history of financial fraud. Yet he became the colony’s most successful governor, erecting new towns and buildings, integrating ex-convicts into society, and naming just about everything Macquarie.
The Bounty bastard
William Bligh was an incredible navigator, breadfruit fancier, coconut hoarder, reforming governor and utter bastard. The mutiny prone swear-bear was brought down in Australia’s only military coup by John Macarthur and the Rum Corps, who finished off what Fletcher Christian started.
The man who bought Australia
John Macarthur, a.k.a. Bodice Jack, had two favourite things: alcohol and money, both of which came in brown paper bags. Macarthur and the New South Wales Rum Corps ran dodgy land deals, intimidated government officials, stole from the public purse and introduced 'corruption on a scale probably unexceeded until the days of Eddie Obeid'.
There are more statues of Matthew Flinders in Australia than of any other man. And there are more statues of his cat, Trim, than of any other cat. Flinders circumnavigated and named Australia, discovered that Tasmania was an island, and spent a lot of time in a very small boat with his 'good sailing buddy', George Bass.
The Eora ambassador and the rainbow warrior
Australia's Indigenous people dealt with the white ghosts from across the sea in different ways. Bennelong pursued a path of accommodation and was the first Indigenous man to visit England, whilst the warrior Pemulwuy, dressed in his Amazing Technicolor Dreamingcoat, fought a bloody 12-year guerrilla war.
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Read "Girt" if you like this. Very entertaining stories about Oz, most that I had never heard before.