Girt: The Unauthorised History of Australia

Girt. No word could better capture the essence of Australia…

In this hilarious history, David Hunt reveals the truth of Australia’s past, from megafauna to Macquarie – the cock-ups and curiosities, the forgotten eccentrics and Eureka moments that have made us who we are.

Girt introduces forgotten heroes like Mary McLoghlin, transported for the crime of “felony of sock”, and Trim the cat, who beat a French monkey to become the first animal to circumnavigate Australia. It recounts the misfortunes of the escaped Irish convicts who set out to walk from Sydney to China, guided only by a hand-drawn paper compass, and explains the role of the coconut in Australia’s only military coup.

Our nation’s beginnings are steeped in the strange, the ridiculous and the frankly bizarre. Girt proudly reclaims these stories for all of us.

Not to read it would be un-Australian.


Indie Awards,  Non-fiction Book of the Year, 2014: winner.
Australian Book Industry Awards,  General Non-Fiction Book of theYear, 2014: shortlisted.
NSW Premier’s Literary Awards,  Douglas Steward Prize for Non-fiction, 2014: shortlisted
Nielsen Bookdata Booksellers Choice Award,  2014: shortlisted.
Best Books of 2013,  iBooks.
Best Books of 2013,  Herald Sun.
Best Books of 2013,  The Age.
Best Books of 2013,  Booktopia.

Praise for Girt

‘A sneaky, sometimes shocking peek under the dirty rug of Australian history.’

— John Birmingham

‘If there’s a better book on Australian history, it won’t be as funny.’

— Graeme Simsion, author of The Rosie Project

‘May I introduce David Hunt, the author of the most serious-comic and much needed book of Oz history, Girt.

— @thomaskeneally, Thomas Keneally on Twitter

‘Hilarious and insightful — with a keen eye for the absurd, coupled with impeccable comic phrasing, Hunt has found the deep wells of humour in Australia’s history. Not since Keith Windschuttle has an historian made me laugh so much.’

— Chris Taylor

‘Girt… cuts an irreverent swath through the facts, fools, fantasies and frauds that made this country what it is today, hoisting sacred cows on their own petards and otherwise sawing the legs off Lady Macquarie’s chair. I was transported.’

— Shane Maloney, the Age Best Books of 2013

‘This book taught me that our history is full of dodgy, booze-peddling charlatans. Somehow I found this reassuring.’

— Dom Knight

‘Australian history never looked like this! Beneath the humour is an interesting analysis backed by extensive research, which has uprooted some little-known historical gems. Girt will appeal to readers who enjoyed John Birmingham’s Leviathan as much as lovers of Chaser-style satire and the humour of John Clarke … and leaves this reader hoping there will be further instalments.’

— Books+Publishing

‘Girt is a ripping read… a humorous history that is accessible enough to share with the eight-year-old. Hunt’s writing interests span comedy, politics and history, a happy triumvirate when your subject is Australia.’

— Stephen Romei in the Australian

‘Historiography as practiced by Mr Hunt is an exceedingly clever way to skewer the rapier of truth through the carcass of officious mendacity… Hunt quickly had his wicked way with me.’

— Barry Gittins, Eureka Street

‘Very funny stuff, and I’m assuming it’s all true?…It’s great! The footnotes are consistently hilarious.’

— @Mr_Schofield, Matthew Schofield, a director of The Simpsons on Twitter

‘There is barely a page in Girt that won’t inspire a chortle. It’s our early history told by a writer with a wit sharp enough to slice tomatoes. But it’s not all jokes and jolly japes. David Hunt has done his research…’

— Herald Sun

‘David Hunt takes aim at some of Australia’s historical sacred cows with his unique brand of irreverent and often profane humour… Beneath the [this] is an interesting analysis backed by extensive research…’

— Bookseller & Publisher

‘… fascinating anomalies and anecdotes that never made the pages of Australia’s official history books… surprising, bizarre and often hilarious.’

— Limelight

‘Girt will inform and entertain in equal parts.’

— Barb Sampson’s Top Books of 2013, ABC Radio WA

‘David Hunt knows how to make the most of history’s juicy bits to hook the reader.’

— The Age