This winter is shaping up to be a ripper with Peninsula-connected people launching books that have been written with drive and desire to tell it like it is. Talented folk from the region include former Sorrento resident Barbara M Angell, who has just launched her book at Antipodes Bookshop & Gallery in Ocean Beach Rd with a Welcome to Country by Boon Wurrung elder Carolyn Briggs.
The Other End of Nowhere is 524 pages of engrossing history about the first European settlement on the Mornington Peninsula. On April 24, 1803, Lieutenant-Governor David Collins left England at the head of a fleet known as The Port Phillip Expedition with 450 people on board. The First Fleet had sailed only 16 years earlier. The expedition’s purpose was to form a penal settlement and it landed on the Peninsula not far from what is now sensational Sorrento. The new arrivals knew nothing of the more than 40,000-year history of the Boon Wurrung people of Port Phillip. This book is the story that ensued.
Barbara talks. “My father was a great history buff and would tell me stories of the first European settlement and Sullivan Bay. There were six graves there and one small notice board with parchment on it then. Nothing more, no houses, no paths. I became fascinated. I could imagine the soldiers and convicts arriving. The Indigenous peoples. I could see it all before my eyes as I looked out on Sullivan Bay.”
She continues. “As a kid holidaying in Webster St (Sorrento) when there were open paddocks, we’d roam around in a little gang in bare feet and explore the area. My parents bought the land for £47 and we camped until all the relatives pitched in to help us build our house. We’d climb the cliffs at Jubilee Point, and St Paul’s Rocks. My cousin and I even sailed across the bay when we were 12. There was such freedom. Over to Mud Islands and back. My parents came in 1945 and died here. I headed to London where I worked as an actress and writer for 20 years in theatre and television. I became interested in writing about the Collins Settlement in England and did my six years of research in the British Museum Manuscript Department, the Records Office at Kew, or going through original letters and historical documents in local archives all over England but kept my first draft in the bottom of a drawer for years until a dear friend of mine passed away. She made me promise I’d finish it — and I did. It took me this last five years to knock it into shape.”
So hunker down and read up on the Peninsula’s Indigenous and European history by the fireside this winter. It’s time to take a peek into where we’ve come from and who was here before us. It’s available at Antipodes and at Farrells in Mornington.