British journalist Cal Flyn was holidaying in her childhood home in the Highlands of Scotland, when she stumbled upon a dark family secret. To her horror, she discovered that her great-great-great uncle Angus McMillan, who had been mythologized as a great explorer and pioneer of early Australia, was in fact also the leader of a number of gruesome massacres of indigenous people. In 1843, he led a loosely formed ‘Highland brigade’ which were responsible for a series of assaults so ferocious that the sites would ever after be synonymous with bloodshed: Butchers Creek, Boney Point, Skull Creek, Slaughterhouse Gully.
Driven to piece together his story and to confront her own history, Cal decided to retrace McMillan’s journey, looking for answers: How could a man lauded for his generosity and integrity commit such terrible acts? What have been the long-term consequences of his actions for the Gunai people? And has today’s generation inherited a responsibility to atone for its ancestors’ sins?
THICKER THAN WATER, like THE HARE WITH AMBER EYES, is part family memoir, part travelogue, part history – and an intimate, revealing and fascinating journey into our Australian heritage. A beautifully written, wholly compelling and clear-eyed examination of the burden of intergenerational grief and inherited guilt that we all carry with us.