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'THE GREAT RACE'- David Hill guest speaker at Southport Yacht Club

by Jeni Bone on 10 Dec 2012
David Hill Author .. ©
Former chairman of the ABC, best-selling author and these days, archaeologist, David Hill will be special guest speaker at the Southport Yacht Club lunch, Friday 15 February - open to members and the public.

During his remarkable career, David Hill has been chairman then managing director of the ABC, chairman of the Australian Football Association, chief executive and director of the State Rail Authority NSW, chairman of Sydney Water Corporation and chairman of CREATE, a national organisation responsible for representing the interests of young people and children in institutional care. He is the author of the bestsellers The Forgotten Children, 1788 and The Gold Rush.

Speaking about his latest novel, 'The Great Race' at the Southport Yacht Club lunch, Friday 15 February, 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 research, 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.

Members and guests welcome. More than $1,500 in raffle prizes on the day. Funds raised support the ambitions of youth sailors, update club facilities and assist Sailability Gold Coast. Southport Yacht Club, Friday 15 February, noon to 3pm, $49 per person.

For enquiries and to book, telephone: (07) 5591 3500.

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