Elizabeth's Garden is historical fiction thoroughly representative of the lawlessness that typified the Hawkesbury River region circa 1820. Run-a-way convicts in the guise of bushrangers, river pirates and cedar cutters operated in the district. They treated the indigenous inhabitants and pioneer settlers badly. This resulted in the rapid decline of the Indigenous bands. The geographical place names, the Aboriginal freedom fighters and sympathetic white settlers of the era are authentic. Documentation in the Police and Justice Museum at Circular Quay, Sydney leaves no doubt that the police force was horribly corrupt from the Governor Macquarie circa 1822 until the 1880s, when good leadership brought respectability finally into the police force.
Elizabeth and her parents etched out a living on the flats of the Hawkesbury River in the early 1800s. And then tragedy struck. Her father was killed by river pirates during a robbery. In Elizabeth’s Garden, author Phillip Leighton-Daly narrates a historical fiction story that represents the lawlessness that typified the Hawkesbury River region during the early years of its colonial history.
Settlements in the sparsely settled environs in colonial New South Wales were ravaged by escaped convicts, cedar cutters, and associated criminal elements. Two teenage children, including Elizabeth, assisted the missionary in ferrying orphaned children along the waterway. Such interference was not appreciated and led to reprisals from the lawless element.
Based on Leighton-Daly’s research, no mission operated on the Hawkesbury River during the early 1800s, but the events of the period are factual and supported by documentation. Aboriginal missions operated at Lake Macquarie eighty miles to the north for fifteen years during this same period. The geographical place names, the Aboriginal freedom fighters, and sympathetic white settlers of the era are authentic. Documentation in the Police and Justice Museum at Circular Quay, Sydney, leaves no doubt the police force was corrupt from the Governor Macquarie era (circa 1822) until the 1880s, when good leadership finally brought respectability into the police force.
About the Author
Phil Leighton-Daly has worked forty years as a schoolteacher and currently instructs infants and primary children in swimming and water safety for the New South Wales, Australia, Department of Education and Training. He has spent many years in the historic Goulburn District where he explores the rugged Bungonia wilderness. Leighton-Daly has published eight books during the last twelve years with a strong focus on environmental and social history. He is married with two children. He is the author of The Crinkling on the Pie and The Prince Who Wanted to Live Forever.