In January of 1788 the First Fleet arrived in New South Wales and a thousand British men and women encountered the people who will be their new neighbours; the beach nomads of Australia. "These people mixed with ours," wrote a British observer soon after the landfall, "and all hands danced together." What followed would determine relations between the peoples for the next two hundred years. Drawing skilfully on first-hand accounts and historical records, Inga Clendinnen reconstructs the complex dance of curiosity, attraction and mistrust performed by the protagonists of either side. She brings this key chapter in British colonial history brilliantly alive. Then we discover why the dancing stopped . . .

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