Australia celebrates one hundred years as a nation in 2001. This book - part history, part travelogue, part memoir - tells the inspiring story of how a one-time British colony with only two sorts of citizens, convicts and gaolers, turned itself into a proud, prosperous and confident country, the greatest sporting nation on earth, where the citizens of its high-leisure cities enjoy a lifestyle that is the envy of the world.
The original hostile factions of British Protestants and Irish Catholics were joined by gold rush adventurers, waves of migrants seeking a new life, war-shattered Europeans and then - in a make-over the speed of which surprised the world - new settlers from all over Asia. Despite the appalling bloodshed of two world wars, the horror of the great depression, strikes, riots, secret armies and near civil wars, out of this amazing mix grew a new and unique character, the Australian.
Through the eyes of ordinary people struggling with their passions, hopes, dreams and ambitions, Phillip Knightley describes the journey that has taken the Great South Land from a dark, racist and often murderous past to a working multi-cultural society. The shocking treatment of the Aborigines, the determination of Australians to make a clean break from the ills of the Old World and create a new society where everyone had a "fair go", the love-hate relationship with Britain that led to the slow but traumatic detachment from "the Mother Country", drive this sweeping story of a people whose discovery of the "middle way" could serve as a guide for our future.