Tennis great, John Newcombe grew up with secrets in his family. His parents didn’t like to talk about their past. There was shame about divorce and where you’d come from. Before his mum passed away, John tried to find out about the family history – but she wouldn’t tell him. Now, after 50 years of marriage, with 3 grown children and 6 grandkids, John wants to get some answers.
John’s search will propel him back into the early days of NSW, to a pivotal time when this remote penal colony was beginning to transform into a free society and a fledgling democracy was emerging, with citizen juries and free press replacing military control.
John’s paternal ancestor played an important role in the fight for freedom of the press. But behind the façade of middle-class respectability, John will discover his 2x great grandmother was hiding her convict past.
Then, exploring his maternal line, John finds himself in the Loyalty Islands, now part of New Caledonia. John’s forebear was hoping to trade sandalwood, but the expedition was a disaster. At the site of a bloody ambush John learns of the cannibalistic tribe his ancestor encountered.