The Colony is a marvellous story grounded in the landscape—from pre-history to successive transformations of the colony from campsites to towns, from garden plots to huge land-holdings.
Tracing and exploring the sense of place is the backbone of Karskens' narrative. Always present in Karskens' story is the Indigenous population, a dynamic, pervasive presence, a presence with victories as well as defeats, of shapers as well as of the dispossessed.
Karskens' scholarship is rich in the exploration of what she lovingly calls ‘the city of words’ – the work of fellow historians, archaeologists, geologists, museologists, and art and architectural historians. Karskens' own voice is a confident one, balanced, perceptive and startling in its simplicity and directness as she challenges received wisdom.
The Colony deserved this year's award for its high literary quality and originality. As a fine history, it is a story which also informs the present and gives us signposts for the future. The narrative is enthralling in its detail and exciting in the picture it draws of the great, brave achievement that the colony was from its earliest days.