#1 - Book 1 - Chapter 1
Lady Bridget in the Never-Never Land
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Following a failed love affair in England, Lady Bridget O'Hara accepts an invitation to travel to colonial Australia as companion to Lady Rosamund Tallant, the wife of the newly-appointed governor of Leichardt's Land. In Leichardt's Town, Lady Bridget, also known as Biddy, is reunited with her old friend and collaborator, Joan Gildea, special correspondent for The Imperialist newspaper. While visiting Joan, Biddy meets Colin McKeith, a roughly-hewn, Scottish-born pioneer, drover, miner, sometime-politician, and magistrate in the north-eastern colony. Biddy and Colin fall in love: she with the adventure a life with him promises, he with an ideal of her noble heritage. In spite of Joan Gildea's misgivings, Biddy and Colin are soon married and leave Leichardt's Town to travel several days north to Colin's cattle property in a region known as the Leura. As Biddy and Colin embark on their life together, the contemporary issues of colonial Australia are revealed: the extreme environment, labour shortages and organisation, police brutality, immigration policy, and the plight of Australia's First Peoples. The couple discover fundamental differences in their perspectives on many topics. When Bridget's former love, Willoughby Maule, newly-widowed and affluent, visits her in the Leura, the couple's strained relationship is further tested.
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