Gertrude, the Emigrant: A Tale of Colonial Life (1857) was the first Australian novel written by a native-born woman and the first to be illustrated by its author. Published a few years after Catherine Spence's Clara Morison (1854), Gertrude also follows that novel in its story of a young immigrant heroine making a life in a colony which is itself in the making. The novel draws on authorial and family memories to summon the harsh, more complex, convict worlds of Sutton Forest, the Shoalhaven and Sydney in the late 1830s and 1840s. Binding her novel together with a conventional romance - and a murder mystery - this journalist-writer cannot avoid a wandering mode of picaresque which allows her recording eye free play. The chief value of Gertrude, the Emigrant rests today in its fresh, detailed documentation of regional history and its fine, evocative descriptions of lands and forests now lost. Written from a perspective as interested in domestic life as bush adventures, this is a novel which refuses to understand Australian colonial as English life transported elsewhere.