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4.17  ·  Rating details ·  235 ratings  ·  61 reviews
The haunting story of the extraordinary Aboriginal woman behind the myth of 'the last Tasmanian Aborigine'.

'At last, a book to give Truganini the proper attention she deserves.' - Gaye Sculthorpe, Curator of Oceania, The British Museum

Cassandra Pybus' ancestors told a story of an old Aboriginal woman who would wander across their farm on Bruny Island, just off the coast of
Paperback, 336 pages
Published March 3rd 2020 by Allen Unwin
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Average rating 4.17  · 
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Shelleyrae at Book'd Out
Inspired by her ancestors connection to the woman known as the ‘last Tasmanian Aborigine’, Truganini by Cassandra Pybus, is a stunning historical biography.

Born around 1812 on Bruny Island, Truganini survived the capture, forced relocation, attempted assimilation and sanctioned extermination of the First Nations population of Tasmania, before dying in 1876. Drawing on a number of historical sources, including personal journals, oral histories, government records, and newspaper archives, Pybus pi
4 Stars

To Ms Pybus,

Wow oh wow!!!!

For me, the name 'Truganini' was something I had heard in passing but knew nothing about the person behind the name, until I read your book. Unfortunately Australian history is still very limited in the voices and perspectives on offer, slowly more and more are becoming available to reach and more importantly educate.

What I loved about this book was how you told a story with the facts, and not just give us the facts in a dry manner like so many non-fiction text
Joselle Griffin
Feb 28, 2020 rated it it was amazing
A very very sad and necessary journey to read. I love that this book attempts to tell the story of Truganini by piecing together the stories told about the men Robinson spent more time writing about. The factual narrative of the sexual exploitation of the women and the murder and destruction of the traditional owners of Tasmania somehow emphasises and makes the terror even more poignant. Pybus emphasises Truganini being a complete warrior woman who had to survive and tried to make her own decisi ...more
Esther King
Jun 12, 2020 rated it liked it
Please note this is a 3.5.

I have a few conflicting feelings regarding this book. On one hand, it’s a story that needs telling and reclaiming, but on the other, it’s a story that we only have colonial eyes to view it through, and that complicates matters. The diary being the sole source of information on Truganini’s life is a difficult thing to stomach, as it’s simply not enough about her so much as it’s about deceptions and genocidal mindsets regarding the First Nations People.

Truganini is a fa
Jennifer (JC-S)
‘The life of this woman, Truganini, frames the story of the dispossession and destruction of the original people of Tasmania.’

When I was a child, growing up in Tasmania, I was told that Truganini had been the last Tasmanian Aborigine. There was no discussion, then, about ‘how’ or ‘why’. Simply an assertion, presented as fact. I made it to adulthood before questioning this.

Cassandra Pybus’s family had a connection to Truganini: their land grants on Bruny Island were country that once belonged to
Karen McCulloch
Jun 10, 2020 rated it really liked it
Firstly, this book was a devestating read. As a 5th generation Tasmanian, a descendent of settlers and convicts, I grew up with a vague knowledge of Robinson and an even more vague knowledge that atrocities had occurred to the first nations peoples of Tasmania. For the 27 years I lived in Tasmania I neither knew nor saught to understand. By the time I reached the final pages of this book I was heaving with sobs for my ignorance, for the cost paid by the Tasmanian aboriginal peoples for my white ...more
Sep 28, 2020 rated it liked it
The story of Truganini and other Aborigines of Tasmania is a very moving one. It is always sobering to read about what occurred in those times, when the first settlers arrived and proceeded to take from and almost completely eradicate the very first Australians. I did find the writing a bit too clinical and stilted and at times repetitive. More like a list of events rather than a telling of a story and experience. This may have been due to the fact that I was reading an arc and I may have been s ...more
Anne Fenn
Jun 24, 2020 rated it it was amazing
A fantastic book, so interesting to read. It had the little I knew about Truganini, as most Australians would, but then there was so much more, of a surprising nature. If you’re ready for the worst- invasion, suffering, rape and kidnapping, you’ll get that but I’ll leave you to find out the other side of her story. Apologies if that stops too short for you but the history reads like an unfolding revelation, I don’t want to spoil it .
The author draws on historical records of government, includin
Mar 14, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction
I found this book exhausting to read and frequently put it down, only to pick it up again. It is heart breaking, shocking, tragic and inspiring.

Cassandtra Pybus has used eye witness accounts to put together the story of Truganini, who was the last of her race, dying in 1876. Truganini managed to survive the 1820s, when the clans of south-eastern Tasmania were all but wiped out. For five years she traveled with George Augustus Robson, who was collecting all the surviving people to send them into
Aug 22, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: australian
The true history of Australia is not as peaceful as we once learnt about in school. The first peoples of Australia were taken from their lands, abused, deceived and often murdered at the hands of European settlers. As a white Australian, I benefit from this horrific legacy and I believe it is my duty to, at the very least, educate myself on the truth of what occurred. This book attempts to pick apart the colonial mindset of the European journal writers (of those who had direct and regular contac ...more

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander readers are advised this article contains images and names of deceased people.

“ In 1839, George Augustus Robinson arrived in Melbourne as Chief Protector of Aborigines for the Port Phillip District, bringing with him a select group of Aboriginal guides from Tasmania, including a woman called Truganini. He could never have foreseen the dramatic and tragic consequence.

Sometime in August 1841, Truganini left Melbourne with her new husband Maulboyheener travelli
May 13, 2020 rated it really liked it
This is an important book for Australians to read. It brings to life the appalling slaughter of indigenous people in Tasmania in the early days of colonisation, shining a light in the very dark corners of our history.

Aspects of the writing frustrated me - but it provided the basis for a strong bookclub discussion.
Kate Hallam
Jun 20, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Gosh, absolutely heart breaking, but such an important book to read. Picturing the geography of as I know it more than a hundred years after these events have taken place, has changed the way see these places. Such an incredible story of resilience that brought me to tears more than once. Equally fascinating and heavy on the heart.
Jun 16, 2020 rated it it was ok
Like many other reviewers, I too grew up with the myth of Truganini. So I was pretty excited to run across Cassandra Pybus' book at the bookshop.

Unlike many reviewers, here, however, I didn't enjoy the book. Like the one other reviewer here to give the book a low star rating, I felt uneasy about the historical scholarship in this book. This, to a certain extent, has to do with authorial voice. I understand that the needs of the general readership may have required the author to adopt an looser n
Barbara Phi
Apr 28, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Truganini was an occasional subject in my education in Tasmania. I grew up at Oyster Cove and went to school in Hobart but also at Woodbridge and Snug, all places which would have been familiar to Truganini, and yet we were only ever taught that she was the last of her race. This book is an absolute revelation exposing the story of this rather remarkable woman. Her skills went beyond bush craft and her story is worth your attention. It's mostly a rattling good read and the story is compelling. I ...more
Mar 23, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2020
This book is described as “heart wrenching “ on the cover and it truly is a difficult book to read but it should be read. So much to take in, for example: The arguments over the skeletons of aborigines by the Royal Society and college of surgeons in London and the lengths they would go to obtain them is outrageous.
Cassandra Pybus says it all in the afterword:
“the deeper truth is every Australian who is not a member of the First Nations is a beneficiary of stolen country, brutal dispossession, in
Apr 28, 2020 rated it really liked it
Growing up I'd heard of Truganini but knew nothing about her, other than her sad designation as the last of the original Tasmanians... As a First Nations Australian I was very interested to learn the real story, and this book did an excellent job of telling the story behind the name, and conveying the tragic details of the lives of her and her companions. It should be mandatory reading in all Australian schools! ...more
Brona's Books
Jun 04, 2020 rated it really liked it
Truganini: Journey through the apocalypse is an extraordinary read.

Cassandra Pybus has compiled a thorough and very personal history of Truganini's life and times. I say personal, because what gives this book that little extra something special is Pybus' relationship to Truganini. As she says in her Preface, the 'rapid dispossession (of the original people of Tasmania), and its terrible aftermath, is the foundation narrative of my family.'

This book has been a 30 year labour of love for Pybus,
R. Verhagen
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Madeleine Laing
Jan 29, 2021 rated it really liked it
Devastating, but an important history lesson and a fascinating, if horrifying read. Reiterates how little there is to celebrate about the vile and treaturous colonisers who invaded sovereign country. I wish Pybus had been more upfront about how her family's heritage as first colonisers benefitted her life, but perhaps she wanted to keep the focus on Truganini's story. ...more
Hard to do justice to this book and the material because it can be quite confronting and with the Covid-19 concerns while I was reading it, I was not in the right frame of mind to read it and had to pause part way through.
Well worth the read, Truganini lived during a huge period of violence and upheaval, she really seemed to survive under her own terms and adjusted as best she could to those things she had no influence under. I had no idea that she had spent time in Victoria nor gone back to Ta
Sep 20, 2020 rated it really liked it
Review to come
Jun 08, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: on-my-e-reader
A biography of Truganini, an indigenous woman of Tasmania who lived through and was a participant in the destruction of indigenous society in Tasmania by the British invaders. This book is an amazing combination of history and story-telling. It is a convincing, moving, enthralling history of a fascinating woman and her times. It is also an important counterbalance to all the stories from convict and coloniser perspectives, accurately representing what is known and what is now unknowable about Tr ...more
Jenny Esots
Aug 29, 2020 rated it really liked it
This troubling account of the indigenous people in Tasmania has been told with fresh eyes by historian Catherine Pybus. Catherine's great great great grandfather lived on the land of Truganini's people and Catherine now resides there. I was most captivated by the preface and afterword which gave Catherine's context in this sense of place.
It is impossible to hear the story of Truganini and her people without a deep sense of sadness.
The sadness will always linger in Tasmania and in the broader sen
Mar 05, 2020 rated it really liked it
The account of the atrocious way in which the colonials systematically forced the Aboriginal people in Tasmania off their land, and in the end caused their extermination, is hard to read; it makes me feel ashamed and angry in turn. In particular Truganini's story is heartbreaking as she is used by the so called 'Protector' of the Aboriginals, George Robinson, in his misguided program to assimilate her people.
Pybus' well researched and historical narrative of how Truganini was ripped from her lan
James Whitmore
Jun 27, 2020 rated it it was amazing

Cassandra Pybus’s connection with Tasmania’s Aboriginal people is that one of her ancestors was granted a large piece of Indigenous land, thereby playing a role in their dispossession. It is this connection that drives Pybus’ biography of Nuenonne woman Truganini, fetishised as “the last Tasmanian”. Pybus largely didn’t work with the Tasmanian Aboriginal community. She describes the process of writing about Indigenous people as “fraught” (in an interview with Honi Soit well worth reading), and c
Marles Henry
Mar 02, 2020 rated it it was amazing
For some, there may be some familiarity associated with Truganini, who has been referred to the 'the last of her race' of Aboriginal people in Tasmania. Cassandra Pybus’ tragic account of Truganini’s life and death left raw emotion of a life unimaginable. So heart-wrenching to be physically and emotionally extracted from history and culture, and watch others be extinguished from that very life and history. To know that this story occurred in Australia’s history is mortifying, a thousand times ov ...more
Jim Rimmer
I grew up with many of the stories conveyed here but they were just shards and splinters, glimpses of the past. The author has done an admirable job of providing a window through time and a new perspective on a history known by too few.

Though diminutive in statue Truganini is a women of enormous importance to history, and an ongoing legacy that will never be diminished.

This book isn't faultless. On many occasions it is a challenging and emotional read, but it's an important story that all should
Feb 26, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I would like to thank Cassandra Pybus and Allen and Unwin for the ARC of Truganini, Journey through the Apocalypse.

This is a historical account of Truganini whose people enjoyed an idealistic lifestyle on Tasmania's east coast until the European invasion. George Robinson the “Protector of Aboriginals” was tasked with the removal of Tasmanian Aboriginal people to the Furneaux Group. Cassandra Pybus has researched the material meticulously using Robinson’s journals and other sources. Truganini ass
Jason McCracken
Apr 16, 2020 rated it liked it
An Important story but I found the writing a little stale, maybe because it was pretty much just a rewritten diary. The author butting in with her own obvious “woke” opinions on how bad the white man leading the aboriginals didn’t really help either. Of course the white man was bad you fucking idiot!


Truganini herself is more of a secondary character for the first half of the book and she spends most of her time running away, whinging about her sore legs and sleeping with any white m
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Cassandra Pybus is ARC Professorial Fellow in the School of History and Classics at the University of Tasmania. She is the author of many books including Community of Thieves and The Devil and James McAuley, winner of the 2000 Adelaide Festival Award for non-fiction.

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