This book places the particular local history of Colac firmly within the context of Victorian history during the colony’s first full year of responsible government. Year of Hope takes us through the twelve months with a factual and fascinating account of power, religion, class and race in both this local area and the fledgling Victorian colony.

Readers are introduced to a remarkable number of the 1300 local residents listed in an appendix. Former miners and ex-convicts are found joining with new immigrants to challenge the 20- year domination by squatters in the developing Western District of Victoria. Tradesmen become established as the effects of the post gold-rush population is felt; government officials struggle to define their roles in the new colonial administration; the women of the settlement cope with childbirth and hard work. Aborigines of the local Coladjin tribe live on the fringes of this white society, caught between two worlds.

Year of Hope: 1857 in the Colac District won a strong commendation from the Judges in the 2007 Victorian Community History Awards. The Judges said the book sprang from the splendid idea to isolate one year in the life of the town. Carefully chosen themes create a feeling of gradually moving through a year, with its seasonal changes and new developments.

Writing in the Victorian Historical Journal of May 2007, historian Peter Yule commented that ‘Dawn Peel has attempted an awesomely difficult task in this book and overall she has succeeded admirably. This is one of the more satisfying local histories I have read in recent years ... Only the best local histories are of interest to people without a connection to the District. Dawn Peel’s history of Colac in 1857 is a worthy addition to the select list of histories that meet this test.’

210 pages, paberback.

$30 Australian + $12 postage.

For overseas postage rates please email me.

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