Sunday 31 May 2020

Blackbirding tale

For those seeking some historic fiction to escape these difficult times, then John Singe new book may interest you.  John has written a number of books on the history of the Torres Strait along with a couple of stories using his adventurer 'Duncan Ross' to tell a rollicking saga of adventure and intrigue set against the colonial rivalry of the great powers in the South Pacific.  This story starts with his Duncan Ross, a placid clerk, receiving a letter from Queensland which plucks him from his humdrum life on the Sydney wharves and is dispatched on a secret mission to the South Seas where he encounters brutal blackbirders, fierce cannibals and a resurgent Ku Klux Klan fixed on recreating the cotton plantations of the Old South in the far reaches of the Pacific.  From the crystalline lagoons of the Coral Sea to the pearling grounds of the Torres Strait the story's hero charts an erratic course between duty and self-preservation.  Kidnapped and castaway the desperate Duncan finally pitches up on the coast of the unknown New Guinea where he is plunged headlong into the midst of savagery and danger. A rollicking read to while away a few hours while stuck at home. 

Friday 8 May 2020

New Port Douglas History

Mr Noel Weare of the Douglas Shire Historical Society, recently presented his latest book at the Mossman Library where it was launched by the shire Mayor Julia Leu.  Entitled 'This Upstart Port Douglas - A different view of Port Douglas, as reported by newspapers between 1873 and 1911.'  This new book contains some 95 actual newspaper reports from the days of the old cedar-getters of 1873 to reports from the disastrous 1911 cyclone which destroyed some fifty houses out of the 57 which made up the town at that time.  While researching the district's local history over many years, Noel found one of the most useful internet resources to be the National Library of Australia's Trove digitized newspapers website.  Certain caveats apply of course, and like the press of today, all their reported information has to be viewed in a discretionary manner, but from another point of view maybe these newspaper editions give rise to accurate time stamps.  It seems to Noel then that the time-line of events can be read by using the actual text of theses digitized images, sometimes partial fragments, together with his own historical comments and attached notes.  An interesting new way to view a history and a good read to save you from Netflix in this time of corona-virus lock-down.