Of all the Australian states, South Australia has most loudly perpetuated the historic myth that it was convict-free. But although it was not a destination for transportees, convicts and ex-convicts arrived in their thousands and helped build the new province. One of those was Billy Freeman.
This is the true tale of a child convict who, after suffering the horrors of gaols and prison hulks, arrived alone in New South Wales aged just 13. Having laboured to gain his freedom, he then undertook an arduous cattle drive to South Australia with pioneer explorer Charles Sturt, and lived a hard farming life - confronting fire, economic depression and family tragedy - in the Adelaide Hills. All the while, Billy lived in the shadow of official discrimination, and he continued to have brushes with the law, even facing gaol again, with his wife Sarah, in middle age.
Based on official records, the notes of family members and published histories, Billy's story is that of an unsung pioneer battler. It's a tale of determination and toughness, from a brutal childhood to making a new life in an often harsh environment.
Buy The Trials of Billy Freeman by Alan F Atkinson from Australia's Online Independent Bookstore, BooksDirect.