The Savage Shore


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Extraordinary Stories of Survival and Tragedy from the Early Voyages of Discovery

Graham Seal

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For centuries before the arrival in Australia of Captain Cook and the so-called First Fleet in 1788, intrepid seafaring explorers had been searching, with varied results, for the fabled “Great Southland.” In this enthralling history of early discovery, Graham Seal offers breathtaking tales of shipwrecks, perilous landings, and Aboriginal encounters with the more than three hundred Europeans who washed up on these distant shores long before the land was claimed by Cook for England. The author relates dramatic, previously untold legends of survival gleaned from the centuries of Dutch, Spanish, Portuguese, French, and Indonesian voyages to Australia, and debunks commonly held misconceptions about the earliest European settlements: ships of the Dutch East Indies Company were already active in the region by the early seventeenth century, and the Dutch, rather than the English, were probably the first European settlers on the continent.

Graham Seal is professor of folklore at Curtin University, Western Australia, and the author of the Australian bestseller Great Australian Stories.

‘Speculation about pre-Captain Cook voyages to Australia has long been a happy hunting ground for cranks and obsessives, but Graham Seal gives short shrift to the myths and fantasies that surround this period of Australian history. Skilfully interweaving documentary and recent archaeological evidence he relates the sagas of the wrecks of Dutch ships on the continent’s inhospitable western coasts, and shows that the convicts and crews of the “First Fleet” of 1788 which exploited Cook’s discovery of Botany Bay were by no means the first Europeans to land on Australian shores. At least 300 men, women and children from wrecked Dutch ships had struggled ashore in earlier years, and some might have survived. The fate of these unfortunate castaways makes an intriguing story which includes the possibility of contact with the local Aboriginal inhabitants. Their reactions to the influx of settlers after 1788 loom large in the last part of Seal’s fascinating book.’ – Glyn Williams, author of Naturalists at Sea: Scientific Travellers from Dampier to Darwin      

‘When La Perouse sailed into Botany Bay four days after the British, empires collided. But cordially. So did indigenous and European cultures. Not so cordially. Graham Seal looks at the myth and mystery that has always surrounded the South Land. Informed, measured and very readable.’ – Sydney Morning Herald

“The Savage Shore takes us back to this vibrant venturesome and often deadly period of exploration …Seal proves himself an amiable and assured guide.”—Peter Moore, Literary Review

“Seal’s spirited account of these early adventurers inspires both admiration and regret.”—Jon Wright, Geographical
ISBN: 9780300220414
Publication Date: April 26, 2016
320 pages, 6 1/8 x 9 1/4
16 b/w illus.

Sales Restrictions: World excluding Southeast Asia, Australia, and New Zealand

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