The Long Farewell by Don Charlwood is the latest in review copies to arrive at the AWBF office. It’s a handsome 300-page softback with an excellent index and bibliography, but the real attraction is the wonderful collection of illustrations and quotes in this new edition of the 1981 classic by Victorian author and historian Don Charlwood. The book tells the harrowing and often exciting story of the great European (largely Irish/English/Scots) waves of immigration that saw more than 980,000 settlers arrive in time to be counted in the Great Census of 1881. Topical numbers, when we consider the current concern over a few thousands of Middle Eastern refugees arriving here in this decade. Drawing on contemporary diaries and newspapers, the book is full of illustrations, handbills, quotes and diagrams that vividly bring to life what it must have been like to endure the long sea voyage to Australia in overcrowded wooden ships. For fans of ancestry research, this is an invaluable introduction to what great-great-great-Grandfather and Grandmother had to put up with to reach Australia.
‘As the vessel gave a severe roll, away would go everything: tins, lamps, lanterns, boxes, bottles; everything that was loose went flying. We were all in the dark. About 2 o’clock in the morning, there came a roll even more severe than any we had had before, and away they all went again, making such a din that was really terrifying, but very laughable to (the crew).’ –
‘Around 4 o’clock yesterday morning, we were roused from sleep by a huge wave coming down the main hatch and completely flooding the inmates of the lee side of the vessel. The screams of the women and children were terrible.’ – aboard the Northumberland en route to Australia, 1876
Don Charlwood was an RAAF navigator in World War Two, flying 30 missions for the British Bomber Command before returning to Australia and continuing his aviation career as an air traffic controller. He began writing historical non-fiction in 1956 and continued publishing until his death in 2012. This new edition is a fitting tribute to his clear and lively writing style and his meticulous research. The book won the NSW Premier’s Literary Award in 1982. It is published by Burgewood Press: www.burgewoodbooks.com.au ISBN 781876425722