Author(s): Marsden Hordern
John Lort Stokes was commissioned by the British Hydrographic Office in 1837 to survey and chart unknown parts of the Australian coastline. He was the last Royal Navy surveyor to hold such a roving commission as had Matthew Flinders and Phillip Parker King before him. The voyage lasted six years and his ship was H.M.S. Beagle, of Charles Darwin fame.
Stokes circumnavigated Australia twice. In the north he discovered the Fitzroy, Albert and Flinders rivers and Port Darwin, and in the south charted that graveyard of sailing ships, Bass Strait. A century later, twelve of his charts were still in use.
The occasional breathtaking foolhardiness of this earnest and conscientious man startles the reader, as it must have done his men. On a whim, Stokes twice risked drowning himself and others with him, and he made several daredevil escapes from crocodiles.
The stories are gripping, and Marsden Hordern is a gifted and vigorous storyteller. He is ably assisted by the ship s mate, Helpman a chatty, witty chronicler. Mariners are Warned! is an engrossing biography, written with empathy by a fellow mariner.
Winner of the Age Book of the Year; Victori