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The Letters Of George And Elizabeth Bass

By Miriam Estensen
Miriam Estensen
In August 1800, George Bass returned to England after five years in the British colony of New South Wales. Gifted, ambitious and impatient with the limitations of a naval career, he took leave from the navy to purchase a ship of his own and organise a commercial venture to Sydney. He also met Elizabeth Waterhouse, and fell very much in love. They were married on 8 October 1800. On 9 January 1801, George Bass sailed for Australia.For the next two years, and across two oceans, letters were the only link between George and Elizabeth Bass. His were brief, dashed across the page with an impatient hand, embedded with tantalising references to his life at sea or the colony of New South Wales and filled with love for his wife. Hers were many pages of small, neat script with news of her friends and family, her own thoughts and pursuits, and her yearning for a husband who would never return.The separate worlds in which George and Elizabeth lived also come to life in their letters: an England of domestic chatter and streets filled with soldiers awaiting a Napoleonic invasion; the hot humid coastal towns of Brazil, where Bass sought to sell his merchandise and took on board firewood, fresh water and tobacco; Sydney society and the disappointment of the ladies in Elizabeth not having come with her husband to join their small social circle; the exotic and languid Pacific islands where trade was difficult and ship labour hard.Rich in detail and deeply personal, The Letters of George and Elizabeth Bass provides a uniquely vivid and intimate portrait of the lives of these two young people and the era in which they lived.

The Last Man Standing

By Peter Dornan
Peter Dornan
'Where was the rest of the Company? Why was no one else firing? Herb turned to look, and before him saw the shocking truth. He was alone. No one was following . . . there was no one left to follow. He was the last man standing.'The Battle of El Alamein was one of the turning points of the Second World War. Churchill later reflected, 'It might be said that before El Alamein we never had a victory; after El Alamein we never had a defeat.'The Australian 9th Division played a major part in the victory at El Alamein and was given high praise from Montgomery, Churchill and even Rommel, who said, 'I could have won North Africa with a division of Australians under my command.' But victory came at a heavy price with the lives of 1177 Australians lost at El Alamein, almost as many as in Kokoda and Tobruk combined.Herb Ashby was wounded in the Siege of Tobruk and served in the Battle of El Alamein. With three Victoria Crosses awarded to his battalion during the campaign, including two to his platoon, Herb assisted his battalion to become the most highly decorated Australian battalion in the war.This is Herb's story of the Tobruk, El Alamein and war in the Western Desert.

Lost World of the Kimberly

Where did they come from? And how and when did they arrive in Australia? Little-known, difficult to reach, yet vital to this question are literally thousands of rock paintings, some believed to be as much as 50,000 years old, surviving high up in raised small caves on cliff faces in the remote and rugged Kimberley Ranges of North-West Australia. Known as 'Bradshaws', after pioneer farmer Joseph Bradshaw who chanced upon the first examples in 1891, they feature lithe, graceful human figures depicted in a fashion altogether different from that of even the oldest traditional art. Indeed, present-day Aborigines disown them, insisting that the paintings are from 'before our time' and dismissing them as 'rubbish' art.But just who were the people depicted in these Kimberley rock paintings? The paintings indicate a people with seafaring traditions, and this 'first wave' of pre-historic migrants to Australia could have a number of alternative origins.Ian Wilson describes the early work on the Bradshaw Paintings, and explains how new dating techniques have shed new light on the findings. He explores the theories advanced for the origins of these people; one possibility is settlement from the Andaman Islands, where pygmy-like tribes still survive and speak a language closely related to some original languages. Farther afield still the author draws connections with Saharan peoples, and he even unearths startling similarities with South American tribes. He claims that even the boomerang is not peculiar to Australia, but can be traced in other, potentially earlier, pre-historic communities.Recalling the early work of Thor Heyerdahl, this will be a wide-ranging and provocative book. It was the author's enthusiasms for art, art history and archaeology which sparked his interest in the Turin Shroud, leading to two international bestsellers, and he now applies these same enthusiasms to the very Australian (yet also potentially international) mystery of the Kimberley rock