The astonishing and unknown story of Narcisse Pelletier - a French cabin boy cast away in 1858 on the Daintree coast of far north Queensland
In 1858, 14-year-old Narcisse Pelletier sailed from Marseilles in the French trader Saint-Paul. With a cargo of Bordeaux wine, they stopped in Bombay, then Hong Kong, and from there they set sail with more than 300 Chinese prospectors bound for the goldfields of Ballarat and Bendigo. Around the eastern tip of New Guinea, however, the ship became engulfed in fog, struck reefs and ran aground.
Scrambling aboard a longboat, the survivors undertook a perilous voyage, crossing almost 1000 kilometres of the Coral Sea before reaching the shores of the Daintree region in far north Queensland, where, abandoned by his shipmates and left for dead, Narcisse was rescued by the local Aboriginal people. For seventeen years he lived with them, growing to manhood and participating fully in their world - until in 1875 he was discovered by the crew of a pearling lugger and wrenched from his Aboriginal family. Taken back to his 'real' life in France, he became a lighthouse keeper, married and had another family, all the while dreaming of what he had left behind...
Drawing from firsthand interviews with Narcisse after his return to France and other contemporary accounts of exploration and survival, and documenting the spread of European settlement in Queensland and the brutal frontier wars that followed, Robert Macklin weaves an unforgettable tale of a young man caught between two cultures in a time of transformation and upheaval.
About the Author
Robert Macklin was born in Queensland and educated at University of Queensland and the Australian National University. He has worked as a journalist at the Courier-Mail, The Age and The Bulletin, and was associate editor of the Canberra Times until 2003.
Robert is the author of 27 books, including Dark Paradise, Hamilton Hume and four works focusing on the SAS and Australia's Special Forces: SAS Sniper, Redback One, SAS Insider and Warrior Elite. He lives in Canberra.