On a Barbarous Coast by Craig Cormick and Harold Ludwick

1. First lines 2. Published 2020 Allen & Unwin 3. Person holding burning sticks. [Public Domain] via Wallpaper Flare 4. Two of the Natives of New Holland, Advancing To Combat (1770), sketched by Cook’s illustrator Sydney Parkinson [Public Domain] via Wikimedia
An imagined alternative to the story of Captain Cook’s landing at present-day Cooktown in 1770.

In 1770, after Captain James Cook’s ship, the Endeavour was damaged on a reef in north Queensland, it was repaired and the voyage continued. However, in this story, the ship is completely wrecked and the survivors make it to shore. James Magra, a midshipman on the Endeavour, tells the story in parallel with Garrgiil, an indigenous boy who watches the survivors and eventually makes contact with them.

We were becoming the wild things we most feared, but could not see it at the time.

“I knew the way explorers looked at a new land – as I had once looked at such lands myself – wondering what resources there might be to exploit, what riches to be squeezed from the land and taken back to Europe.”

~Quotes from “On a Barbarous Coast” by Craig Cormick and Harold Ludwick
  • Sydney Morning Herald: “a saga that impresses upon you the lasting impact of the brutal colonisation of this land’s First Peoples.”
  • Readings: “Fierce, intriguing and thoughtful, On a Barbarous Coast is the story of a past and future that might have been.”

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