Lachlan Macquarie - Father of Australia
The amazing story of the impoverished highlander who would become the Father of Australia. Lachlan Macquarie was born into poverty on the island of Ulva, beside Mull, but yet rose to become the Governor of New South Wales.
A progressive man for his time, he turned it from a dumping ground for convicts into the dynamic British colony, which would become Australia. Macquarie was brought down by enemies among those who had settled in Australia of their own free will, and resisted his liberal views on penal reform. In the end, he was vilified for what he had achieved, and left the colony with his reputation tarnished.
Macquarie believed in the emancipation of former convicts and in “kindness and attention” for the native people – but he was also responsible for what was then the worst recorded massacre of the Aborigines.
He was a leader who commanded respect and affection from the vast majority of colonists, while in effect being an absolute ruler, but who also fell foul of the upper echelons both in Australia and back home in Britain.
At the root of his downfall was his progressive policy of accepting pardoned and time-served convicts back into the community, often to become drivers of the new nation. He failed to understand that, post the Napoleonic Wars – and with rising crime and political unrest – the British Government wanted to use the colony to instill terror in wrongdoers, rather than bring about redemption.
It is also very much the love story of Lachlan and Elizabeth, his second wife, a feisty intelligent Highland woman, who matched her husband in the partnership which carved out a new continent. They were Australia’s first power couple. Her influence on his two most important legacies – emancipation of convicts and architecture – was profound. Professor Alan Atkinson of University of Sydney says: “I think that marriage was fundamental to understanding what Macquarie did in New South Wales. He couldn’t have done it without her, and she couldn’t have done it without him. It’s a partnership which was very creative.”
Among Lachlan Macquarie's achievements and legacy was the creation the colony’s first currency, the commissioning of a road through the Blue Mountains to vast tracts of arable land beyond – the basis of the country’s ongoing prosperity – and the founding of towns, a bank, and numerous schools including one for the native population.
It is widely believed that Macquarie was born in Ormaig, on the island of Ulva, which is beside Mull.
Elizabeth Campbell, the influential wife of Lachlan Macquarie, was born in Airds House at Appin in Argyll.
Macquarie's government stables in Sydney – criticised as being ‘a palace for horses’ – were partly based on the design of this historic house.
The Female Orphan School
The Female Orphan School is in Sydney and is now part of the University of Western Sydney Parramatta Campus. The first three-storey building built on the colony was based in Elizabeth’s home, Airds House at Appin in Argyll. Elizabeth had a major influence on the setting up and design of the orphanage.University of Western Sydney: Parramatta Campus
Tipu's Fortress at Seringapatam
Macquarie’s diaries described how the British stormed the fortress of this important Indian ruler after years of war. Macquarie spent almost 20 years of his Army career serving the British Empire in India.Wikipedia: Battle of Seringapatam
The Government Stables - Sydney
Commissioned by Macquarie, it was criticised as being a waste of money and ‘a palace for horses’. Elizabeth may have had a major influence on the design. The design of the stables was partly influenced by Inverary Castle.
Behind the scenes of The Father of Australia
There were loads of interesting people involved in filming The Father of Australia. An entire regiment of military re-enactors were used. This picture shows Clive Russell and one of the extras - Brad Manera who lives entirely in 18th century gear!
Old Government House at Paramatta near Sydney
Old Government House at Paramatta near Sydney is the main location used for the interiors, and the Macquaries' country home. It's wonderfully restored and full of beautiful period furniture including some of the oldest pieces in Australia and some that belonged to the Macquaries themselves, such as their four poster bed.Old Government House
Lachlan Macquarie Jnr
Macquarie's diary entry about his birth - March 1814
"A boy! This was the most joyful sound I had ever heard, and my joy was greatly enhanced on finding that my beloved Elizabeth was herself entirely out of danger and likely to do well. As soon as the dear Infant was washed & dressed, he was brought back to be presented to his doting mother and myself! A finer child could not be. Our happiness on Earth was now complete. This joyful event was the only thing that was wanting."
Sadly he didn't turn out well - he was doted on and spoiled - and died after falling downstairs drunk in a castle in Scotland when he was 32.
Lachlan Macquarie - 1805
A portrait of Lachlan Macquarie. It is suspected that he has powdered his hair.
A portrait of Elizabeth Macquarie from 1819.
- David Tennant
- Lachlan Macquarie
- Clive Russell
- Julie Wilson Nimmo
- Les Wilson
- Seona Roberston
- Stuart Scowcroft