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Publisher's Summary

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 1,000 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 17 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.

©2019 Robert Macklin (P)2019 Hachette Australia Pty Ltd
  • Unabridged Audiobook
  • Categories: History

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Very interesting

Very interesting true story. Well worth listening to and corrective of a lack of information about what life was like both for and among the Aboriginals.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Maniatakos
  • 02-21-22

A great story

I am travelling in rural/remote Australia and I was looking for an audio-book to go with the trip, especially something that covers indigenous culture and way of life. I listened to some disappointing ones, but Castaway, although originally didn’t stand out as a title, was captivating. Not sure how much of it is fact and how much fiction but it covers a great deal. It presents two parallel streams, a history stream of white settlement and the story of Amglo amongst an aboriginal tribe.
Bittersweet finish, goes with the mood of the holiday almost coming to an end. I want to visit North Queensland now.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Robp9921
  • 03-12-20

Well told story of obscure Aussie history

Narration by Carmen never disappoints, backed up by excellent research and writing by Macklin. Excellent

1 person found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Terry Mc
  • 01-18-20

THOUGHT PROVOKING

Thought provoking assuming accuracy of facts relating to early Queensland pioneering history and treatment of the aboriginals.

1 person found this helpful

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  • T. Little
  • 09-17-19

exceptionally good

This is a superb book- an adventure, and a heart-breaking "first contact" story presented in a factual and historically measured way and also with great empathy and imagination. The author skillfully places the story in the wider arc of Queensland colonization, a woeful narrative of murder, rapine, and physical and cultural genocide. It is an important work of history that is also a riveting and thought-provoking story. What more could you want? The narrator is an exceptionally good dramatic voice, fluidly transitioning between French and a range of dramatic dialects in English-Australian.

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  • Emma
  • 08-07-19

incredible true story

This book is thoroughly well researched, with an incredible insight into indigenous culture and history.
I would of given 5 stars, but it's very light on dialogue, and at times sounds like a long list of journal entries.
If you love honest Australian history then you wont mind!


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  • Michael Aitken
  • 07-25-19

Wow!

As someone who has spent much time in the far north of Qld and friends with indigenous people I was deeply moved by this story. Amazing, inspiring, sad. The way ahead is to do justice, love mercy and walk humbly with the creator of this wonderful yet broken world.

1 person found this helpful