Martin Sparrow is already struggling when the Hawkesbury's great flood of March 1806 lays waste to him and his farm.

Luckless, lovelorn and deep in debt, the ex-convict is confronted with a choice. He can buckle down and set about his agricultural recovery, or he can heed the whispers of an earthly paradise on the far side of the mountains - a place where men are truly free - and strike out for a new life. But what chance of renewal is there for a man like Sparrow in either the brutal colony or the forbidding wilderness?

The decision he makes triggers a harrowing chain of events and draws in a cast of extraordinary characters, including Alister Mackie, the chief constable on the river; his deputy, Thaddeus Cuff; the vicious hunter, Griffin Pinney; the Romany girl, Bea Faa; and the young Aboriginal men, Caleb and Moowut'tin, caught between war and peace.

Set against the awe-inspiring immensity of the hinterland west of the Hawkesbury River, this epic of chance and endurance is an immersion into another time, a masterpiece of language and atmosphere. Rich, raw, strangely beautiful and utterly convincing, The Making of Martin Sparrowreveals Peter Cochrane - already one of our leading historians - as one of our most compelling novelists.