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Cross-dressing convicts, effeminate bushrangers and women-shortage woes – here is the first ever history of sex in Australia, from Botany Bay to the present-day.

In this highly readable social history, Frank Bongiorno uses vivid examples to chart the changing sex lives of Australians. He shows how a predominantly male penal colony gave rise to a rough and ready culture: the scarcity of women made for strange bedfellows, and the female minority was both powerful and vulnerable.

Then came the Victorian era, in which fears of sodomy helped bring an end to the transportation of convicts. Tracing the story all the way to the present, Bongiorno shows how the quest for respectability always has another side to it, and how the contraceptive pill changed so much.Along the way he deals with some intriguing questions – were the Kelly gang gay? why did the law ignore lesbianism for so long? – and introduces some remarkable characters, both reformers and radicals. This is the thought-provoking story of sex in Australia.

With a foreword by Michael Kirby, AC CMG

'A great book, a compound of wit and tragedy, as you'd expect from the subject matter, plus wide learning and common sense.' Alan Atkinson, author of The Europeans in Australia

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