The Voyage to Marege'

Macassan trepangers in northern Australia

Campbell Macknight
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The Voyage to Marege'

Published

1 January 1976

ISBN

9780522840889

Imprint

Melbourne University Press

The Voyage to Marege'

Macassan trepangers in northern Australia

Campbell Macknight
This book throws open an entirely new window upon Australian history. Almost a century before Captain Cook voyaged along Australia's north-east coast, sailors from Asia were frequent visitors to Marege' (as they called the region) and had even established an industry there. Men from Macassar made the long and dangerous voyage to gather and to dry the trepang (beche-de-mer or sea slug) so prized as culinary delicacy by the Chinese. Trade between Australia and China thus was already old, long before the first export cargo sailed from Sydney Town.

This history of Australia's early contact with the world outside is consequently very different from the account commonly accepted up to now; even aboriginal art, so long regarded as wholly isolated from external influence, is shown by Dr Macknight to employ themes from overseas.

This strikingly original contribution to the maritime and commercial history of the region is unique also in…
This book throws open an entirely new window upon Australian history. Almost a century before Captain Cook voyaged along Australia's north-east coast, sailors from Asia were frequent visitors to Marege' (as they called the region) and had even established an industry there. Men from Macassar made the long and dangerous voyage to gather and to dry the trepang (beche-de-mer or sea slug) so prized as culinary delicacy by the Chinese. Trade between Australia and China thus was already old, long before the first export cargo sailed from Sydney Town.

This history of Australia's early contact with the world outside is consequently very different from the account commonly accepted up to now; even aboriginal art, so long regarded as wholly isolated from external influence, is shown by Dr Macknight to employ themes from overseas.

This strikingly original contribution to the maritime and commercial history of the region is unique also in the diverse sources and disciplines it employs—documents, archaeological 'digs', ethnographic evidence and personal interviews with old men in Macassar who sailed as youths with the trepang fleets—all contribute to the remarkable story. The detailed description of trepanging is of great and unusual interest.

The general reader as well as the specialist, will find delight in this generously illustrated volume.

Campbell Macknight

Campbell Macknight

Campbell Macknight taught in the History Department, Faculty of Arts at the Australian National University for many years before becoming Professor of Humanities at the University of Tasmania in Launceston in 1994. He retired back to Canberra in 2000, where he has continued his research, writing and editing.

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Paperback
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