Bio: Derek Pugh is an award-winning author, based in Darwin in Australia's Northern Territory. His career in education in several countries has set him up well to write history, science and other stories in a wide range of genres. Pugh’s fourth book, Tambora; Travels to Sumbawa and the Mountain of Change won the Best Non-Fiction Award in the Territory Read Book Awards in 2016. His interest in Fort Dundas was piqued during three years spent living at Pirlangimpi / Garden Point just across the bay from the site. Writing its history was a natural progression. Pugh can be contacted on email@example.com or via www.derekpugh.com.au.
Awards: Winner: Territory Read Best Non-Fiction Book 2016 for Tambora Finalist: Chief Minister's Book of the Year, 2016 for Tambora
This is a story of colonisation of the Northern Territory. It is a story of courage, exploration, murder, wasted efforts, life and death struggles, insubordination, incredible seamanship and extraordinary bushmanship, amid government bungling and Aboriginal resistance. Escape Cliffs was an attempt by South Australia to become the premier state of the country. It would open up a trading route across the country to Asia and exploit the agricultural and mining opportunities of the interior. It would be at no cost to the state as the land was sold unsurveyed and unseen to investors prior to the First Northern Territory Expedition even setting out. But then, as the saying goes, the fight started…
Fort Dundas was the first outpost of Europeans in Australia’s north. It was a British fortification manned by soldiers, marines and convicts, and built by them on remote Melville Island in 1824. It lasted until February, 1829, when it was abandoned and left to the termites. The fort’s purpose was twofold. First, it was a physical demonstration of Britain’s claim to the New Holland continent as far as longitude 129°E, which excluded the Dutch and the French from starting similar colonies (it was the first of a series of fortified locations around the coast). Second, it was promoted as the start of a British trading post that would become a second Singapore and compete with Batavia. The settlement was named in a ceremony on 21 October 1824, but it was not a success. In its short existence we have tales of great privation, survival, greed, piracy, slavery, murder, kidnapping, scurvy, and battles with the Indigenous inhabitants of the islands, the Tiwi. It was also the site of the first European wedding and the birth of the first European children in northern Australia. None of the three military commandants who managed the outpost wanted to be there and all were gratefully relieved after their posting. They left behind thirty-four dead - victims of disease, poor diet and Tiwi spears. Others died when the crews of the fort’s supply ships were slaughtered and beheaded by Malay pirates on islands to the north. Two cabin boys from one of them, the Stedcombe, were enslaved by the pirates. What happened at Fort Dundas and why it was abandoned has been largely untold. Nevertheless, it is one of the most engaging stories of nineteenth century Australia. ISBN paperback 9780992355869 $29.95 eBook 9780992355876
Tambora: Travels to Sumbawa and the Mountain that Changed the Earth. Winner: Territory Read Best Non-Fiction Book 2016 Finalist: Chief Minister's Book of the Year, 2016 Launched on May 10 2015 to celebrate the bicentenary, Tambora erupted in 1815 in an explosion that was the biggest for at least 10,000 years. The eruption was ten times the size of Krakatoa's famous 1873 eruption. Tambora killed or affected millions, it can be linked to the start of a religion, the first bicycles, the birth of science fiction and the first Irish potato famine. Why then, have so few heard of it? Order through on-line booksellers, your local shop or directly from me.
Tammy Damulkurra is a negotiated text novel written with the ‘Sunshine Girls of Maningrida’. Now in its second edition, it has been selected by The Indigenous Literacy Foundation in their book selection for 2016.