Writing ‘Against the Tide’ has been an interesting journey especially as I wanted to capture the female perspective of life in the colony. As the months went by all I had was a collection of facts neatly diarised which, on their own, were pretty dry. When I began to overlay my family story with the happenings of the day, the book began to take shape. There was so much happening in the colony at this time.
The adventure starts in Sydney in 1831 some forty odd years after the first settlement and so much was achieved, especially for women. Despite the hardships, New South Wales provided many women with job opportunities and sometimes wealth:convicts, immigrants, free settlers and even Governor’s wives.Enterprising women like Elizabeth Macarthur, Elizabeth Macquarie, Sarah Bird, Ann Howe, Sarah Wills Howe,Caroline Chisholm, Mary Reibey, Louisa Meredith and Adelaide Ironside. Women whose names rarely made the history books ran inns, dress shops, bakeries, taught children,delivered babies and contributed to the success of their new homeland. Some of these women are mentioned in my book,others I have used their story as background.
For example Louisa Anne Meredith arrived in the colony of NSW as a young bride on the Letitia with her husband Charles Meredith in September 1939. She was an educated woman skilled in the gentle pursuits of poetry and art although fiercely independent with a mind of her own. Having been previously published in England, in 1844 she wrote her fourth book on life in the young colony of NSW. Among her stories was an account of crossing the Blue Mountains on their way to Bathurst where Charles had acquired land. She describes her anguish of spending nights in flea infested inns,poor food and intoxicated landlords. Her frank comments of Sydney society angered the local gentry although the book was widely read. Louisa and Charles Meredith left NSW to settle in Twamley, Buckland, Tasmania where she pursued a successful career as a writer, illustrator and environmentalist.