“How good it is to hear a Darug voice speaking of Darug history.”—Kate Grenville, author of The Secret River, winner of the Commonwealth Prize
For all known time, Muraging’s people, the Darug, have lived on this land between the river and the sea. But change comes swiftly in the early years of the nineteenth century when White settlers begin to arrive, laying claim to the continent, long inhabited by Aboriginal tribes like Muraging’s, for the British empire.
At ten years old, Muraging is given over to the Parramatta Native School by her father, where the missionaries call her Mary James, force her to abandon her culture and language, and teach her subjects they believe will save her soul: English, Christianity, and housework. Six years later, seeking a brighter future, Muraging flees the school, embarking on a journey of discovery and a search for a safe place in an unfamiliar and unsteady new world—an odyssey far more winding and treacherous than she ever dreamed.
Spanning two decades, from 1816-1835, and set around the Hawkesbury River area, the home of the Darug people in Parramatta and Sydney, Benevolence sheds light on the heartbreaking violence and erasure of colonization, as well as remarkable survival and resistance—a vivid and compelling portrait of the Aboriginal Australians whose way of life is forever altered.
Award-winning Australian writer Julie Janson’s draws on historical events to recreate this pivotal time—things that may have happened to her own ancestors—giving voice to an Aboriginal experience of early-settlement in Australia.