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Three Sheets to the Wind

ABC Books

Three Sheets to the Wind


How a motley crew of merchant seamen walked 500 miles to save 7000 gallons of rum

When Campbell & Clark, Scottish merchants based in India, dispatched an Indian ship hurriedly renamed the Sydney Cove to the colony of NSW in 1797, they were hoping to make their fortune. The ship's 'speculative' cargo included all kinds of products to entice the new colony's inhabitants, including 7000 gallons of rum intended to be sold to the Rum Corp, which ruled the fledgling colony with an iron grip, despite the arrival of Governor John Hunter. But when the ship went down north of Van Diemen's Land, cargo master William Clark and 16 other crew members decided to walk the 600 miles to Sydney Town to get help and rescue crew and cargo. Clark and just two others made it, having been assisted by at least six Aboriginal Nations and seeing far more of the country than Joseph Banks ever did. Clark's reports to Hunter led to Bass and Flinders' 'discovery' of Bass Strait and the beginnings of a sealing industry. And the rum? Some of it was saved, and returned to Sydney and into the hands of the Rum Corp.

By the bestselling author of The Ship That Never Was and The Ghost and the Bounty Hunter, Three Sheets to the Wind is a rollicking account of a little known event that changed the course of Australian history.

Adam Courtenay
Published June 2022
320 pages
212mm x 156mm
ISBN: 9780733341861

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