Former chairman of the ABC, author and these days, archaeologist, David Hill will be special guest speaker at the Southport Yacht Club lunch, Friday 15 February.
Speaking about his latest novel, 'The Great Race', David will discuss the epic tale that is more compelling than fiction, how the world’s then superpowers, Britain and France, became locked in a perilous race to complete the map of Australia – some 18 years after the colony was founded.
'What surprised me most during the research was the hazardous nature of exploration,' Hill reveals.
'It was mind-boggling to read about the terrible conditions,' he says, referring to the cramped, leaky, unsanitary state of the ships, dire rations of over-cooked biscuits riddled with weevils and little else, punishments meted out to officers and crew alike, and the myriad of perils at sea.
'There were no charts, they knew nothing about the wind or currents, the longest of the boats was 30m. Some of the boats used for exploration were no more than dinghies.
'For the Captains, scientists and officers there was the glory, but for the crew, knowing a voyage could last for many years and it was likely that half of them would perish from diseases like dysentery or scurvy, or at the hands of hostile natives, it was a wonder anybody went to sea.'
Hill discovered through his rapacious reading, vast numbers of crew were pressed into service, coerced or shanghaied. 'When a crew needed new members, they would simply go ashore and kidnap them.'
The Great Race brings to life in vivid hues, the motivation and characters of adventurers Dampier, Tasman, Cook, Flinders, Baudin and La Pérouse. It weaves in the origins of famous castaway legends such as Robinson Crusoe and Gulliver’s Travels, set against the gripping political backdrop of 19thC Europe in turmoil.
Best-selling author of some of this country’s landmark historic titles, such as 'The Forgotten Children', '1788'and 'The Gold Rush', Hill believes our history is alive with characters and deeds as thrilling and inspirational as those of any country and it should be revived and revisited.
This event will be a fascinating re-discovery of history, as well as your opportunity to buy a signed copy of David Hill’s 'The Great Race', and hear about his current passion, an archaeological study in Greece, where he is director of a project which aims to create a modern map of the ancient city of Troizen.
Friday 15 February, noon to 3pm. Tickets $49 which includes two-course lunch. Members and guests welcome. Raffle prizes on the day. Funds raised for junior sailors and Sailability.
To book your tickets, telephone: (07) 5591 3500.
by Southport Yacht Club
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8:35 PM Sun 6 Jan 2013GMT
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