King of the Australian Coast
Phillip Parker King has been described as the greatest of Australia's early marine surveyors. But while the achievements of Cook and Flinders are widely known, this is the first telling of King's story.
Unlike Cook and Flinders, King was Australian-born—the son of Philip Gidley King, governor of New South Wales. In a series of gruelling voyages between 1817 and 1822, King charted most of the north-west coast of Australia from the eastern tip of Arnhem Land all the way round to Cape Leeuwin and King George Sound. He surveyed Macquarie Harbour in Van Diemen's Land and the treacherous waters inside the Great Barrier Reef, filling gaps in the work of his famous predecessors.
Marsden Hordern, a splendid storyteller, creates for the reader a sense of following, engrossed, in King's wake. The hazards of reefs, shoals and tides are ever-present, as is delight in unfamiliar wildlife and curiosity about the Aboriginal people.
The question left hanging is whether King might be better known today had he been a less capable, good and faithful servant of the Crown, and more inclined to the excess and ineptitude of certain other early explorers.
Winner of the New South Wales Premier's Literary Award for General History.
Companion volume to Mariners are Warned!, another prize-winning maritime biography by the same author.
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