The First Fleet landed on the shores of Australia in January 1788 to be met by a panorama of plants, sunshine and stingrays. Their awe lasted approximately as long as it took to discover that the soil was in fact sand, and that life sustaining fruit and veg cannot grow in sand. You also cannot build on sand. It tends to erode, and your house tends to wash out to sea.
Convicts were shipped in their thousands, and it wasn’t all sausage sizzles and paddle boarding down at Palm Beach. Conditions were dire, the prisoners couldn’t farm the land and livestock dropped like fruit flies.
The good news was that after serving their term, the convicts were free to make their own living in this new, mineral rich, balmy country. Some found diamonds. Others struck oil. Some brewed beer.
James Squire supposedly founded Australia’s first commercial brewery. He had been sentenced to transportation ‘beyond the seas’ for stealing some chickens – obviously a criminal mastermind of note. You can still kick back pretty much anywhere in Oz today and sup on his namesakes One Fifty Lashes pale ale or a Four Wives pilsner.
Thirst Fleet is a journey through the beer glass, exploring the resurgence worldwide of craft beer, micro-brewing and asking for something more than a tepid glass of Fosters.