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The Sydney Wars : Conflict in the Early Colony, 1788-1817 - Stephen Gapps

The Sydney Wars

Conflict in the Early Colony, 1788-1817

By: Stephen Gapps

Paperback | 1 May 2018

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Winner of the Les Carolyn Literary Prize 2020

Longlisted for the 2019 CHASS Australia Book Prize


The Sydney Wars tells the history of military engagements between Europeans and Aboriginal Australians – described as ‘this constant sort of war’ by one early colonist – around the greater Sydney region.

Telling the story of the first years of colonial Sydney in a new and original way, this provocative book is the first detailed account of the warfare that occurred across the Sydney region from the arrival of a British expedition in 1788 to the last recorded conflict in the area in 1817. The Sydney Wars sheds new light on how British and Aboriginal forces developed military tactics and how the violence played out.

Analysing the paramilitary roles of settlers and convicts and the militia defensive systems that were deployed, it shows that white settlers lived in fear, while Indigenous people fought back as their land and resources were taken away. Stephen Gapps details the violent conflict that formed part of a long period of colonial strategic efforts to secure the Sydney basin and, in time, the rest of the continent.

About the Author

Dr Stephen Gapps is a Sydney-based historian with research interests in public history and early colonial Sydney. He has written extensively on historical re-enactments, military history and the commemoration of the past. In 2011 he won a NSW Premier's History Award for Cabrogal to Fairfield: A history of a multicultural community. Stephen is currently a curator at the Australian National Maritime Museum. In 2017 he was awarded the NSW State Library Merewether Fellowship.
Industry Reviews
`A powerful and cogent contribution to one of the most contentious aspects of Australian history: the war between British settlers and the First Nations. The fine detailed research will mean that we will have to radically reassess our understanding of the history of the first thirty years of settlement.' - Henry Reynolds

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