The ends of the earth

Featured in

  • Published 20100503
  • ISBN: 9781921656163
  • Extent: 264 pp
  • Paperback (234 x 153mm)

LASTING A GOOD part of a minute, the sound was akin to the roar of two hundred horse carriages furiously ridden over cobblestones, writes James Palmer, surveyor of the newest southern colony, in January 1839. I made inquiries of one of the natives who indicated there have been previous earthquakes of similar nature in these parts. However, it was impossible to ascertain their frequency or severity, were I to believe him.

I frown beneath the shuddering roof of the tent, wondering if the earthquake has struck the area my husband, the surveyor, and his men have been engaged to map. I remain pinned to the bed, blinking at the dark, listening. Dogs are barking. People call out. Some have lit lamps with which to inspect the tents, the provisions store and the newly laid foundations of the hospital. Slowly I reach for the Bible I keep wrapped in a white linen cloth with my diary. And every island fled away, and the mountains were not found.

Already a subscriber? Sign in here

If you are an educator or student wishing to access content for study purposes please contact us at

Share article

About the author

Emma Ashmere

Emma Ashmere lives in northern New South Wales. She holds a PhD in English from La Trobe University investigating the use of marginalised histories...

More from this edition

Out of the ordinary

EssayTHE LUCKY COUNTRY by Donald Horne is among my treasured Australian books. When first tempted to open its covers, as an undergraduate student of...

Tears of the sun

ReportageSelected for Best Australian Essays 2010 AS YOU FLY out of Perth, heading east, the wheat and sheep country cushioning the world's most isolated capital...

Stay up to date with the latest, news, articles and special offers from Griffith Review.