"A social history of the period from 1788 to 1870 from the beginning of British settlement of Australia to the year when the last British soldiers sailed home from the colonies. In his inimitable fashion Inglis tells the story of convicts, currency lads and emigrants settling into their new land. The newcomers brought with them from the old world their traditional holidays and made their own fetes in the new. We see them facing natural enemies in the land, and having their tranquillity shattered by bushrangers as well as rebellious convicts, military officers and gold diggers. With them we hear the sounds of distant war. We meet the men they honoured, and we read of efforts by poets and orators to turn the Australian experience into history."