One of the Scots who made extraordinary contributions to Australia was Lachlan Macquarie. Grantley Kieza has published several biographies including Banjo, Monash and Bert Hinkler. Now in Macquarie, he reveals a more complex figure than one might have expected: severe but sentimental, strait-laced but wayward, ambitious but egalitarian. Born in 1761 into a proud but impoverished family in the Inner Hebrides, his fortunes began to improve on the death of his father when Lachlan was about 14. Taken under the care of his uncle, Murdoch Maclaine, a man of some substance on Mull, opportunities opened up. Barely a year later, Lachlan followed his uncle into the 84th Regiment sailing to America for the War of Independence.
Kieza has undertaken extensive research into Macquarie’s life including his service in India and two marriages. Macquarie’s journals, kept throughout most of his life, are an invaluable source of his challenges and successes in the colony although some of Kieza’s commentary is too politically correct. But this vivid biography doesn’t deny Macquarie’s remarkable contributions in his lengthy 11 year term: the townscape of Sydney, new towns to the north and south, a passage over the Blue Mountains, fair administration of the law, 265 public works, and opportunities for former convicts. He died 1824, two years after his return to Scotland. His headstone reads: The Father of Australia.