By: Jackie French
Illustrated by: Mark Wilson
Genre: YFB - General fiction (Children's/Teenage)
Published by: Harper Collins
Published: 25/01/16
ISBN: 9780732299446


What is the sailor's secret about the treasure of Australia's colony?

The second book in a series that explores little-known history about Australia's fascinating past. Barney Bean is keen to make his fortune and he hears a secret; a sailor's secret about the treasure of the colony. But how can chasing whales make you rich?

Is adventure at sea worth leaving everything he loves?

Written by award-winning author Jackie French and superbly illustrated by Mark Wilson, this second book in The Secret Histories series explores how the early colony survived with the wealth from whaling, a little-known secret from Australia's past.


There aren’t many opportunities for an orphaned convict boy in Sydney Cove in 1791. Certainly none that will give Barney Bean the kind of future he hopes for: some land to grow fruit and vegetables, and a home for himself and his friend Elsie.

When Captain Melvill of the ship Britannia offers Barney the chance to make his fortune as a cabin boy aboard the whaler he leaps at the chance, but once they’re out to sea Barney soon discovers that whaling isn’t the grand adventure that he expected.

Barney and the Secret of the Whales is a thought-provoking historical novel that sheds light on the hidden truth about the early days of the Australian colony: our survival and prosperity were built on the whaling trade.

The descriptions of the whale hunt and the process of rendering down the animal are fascinating, if brutal. Impeccably researched, and even-handed, the novel will inspire discussion about animal rights, commercial whaling and how attitudes have changed towards conservation in the modern era.

Jackie French is one of Australia's most respected authors, and has written over 140 books.

Reviewed by Lian