The Blue Eyed Aborigine
This is the story of two young men – Jan Pelgrom, who was a cabin boy and Wouter Looes, who was a soldier. Both were involved in the notorious mutiny (in 1629) after the shipwreck of the Batavia on the Houtman Abrolhos group of islands, just off the coast of Western Australia.
Unlike the other mutineers, most of whom were hanged, Jan and Wouter had a different punishment. They were given a few supplies and then marooned on the Australian mainland near the mouth of the Murchison River, thus becoming Australia’s very first European settlers.
The Batavia mutiny and the shipwreck are well documented in the diaries of the ship’s Commander, but there is no record of what happened to Jan and Wouter once they were abandoned. However, later European explorers to the region reported coming across Aborigines with blue eyes, suggesting that at least one of the two young men survived.
The first half of The Blue Eyed Aborigine is based on fact. The second half is pure fiction.
Hayes gets the tone, pace and action just right. Jan’s story is gripping. Straight on to the school readings lists for this one, and for the best possible reasons.
A confronting look at a significant event in history, with deft interpretation and excellent character development – a great read.
Nayu’s Reading Corner
A superbly written story centering around the 17th Century Dutch atrocity that occurred off the coast of Western Australia.
It provides a brief yet compelling account of the infamous events as seen through the eyes of Jan the cabin boy and later his companion Wouter, when they are abandoned to fend for themselves on the hitherto unexplored 'Southland' as punishment for their earlier crimes.
The first part of the book revolves around the events of the mutiny and the horrific, inexorable change that is brought about within Jan as a result of his misplaced loyalty to the insane Corneliez.
The second part of the book explores Jan and Wouter's experiences and the differing ways in which they adjust to their punishment which is essentially 'freedom within the captivity of the unknown'. One adapts well and embraces what he is presented with, whilst the other longs for the familiarity and kinship of his own kind. What follows is a beautiful account of the appreciation of nature, culture and atonement/repentance for former sins.
I would highly recommend this book to anyone … it has all the trappings of a classic.
Pre-publication review from Amazon
A definite must-read.
A gripping adventure story that raises timeless questions about human behaviour, conditioning and ultimately the power of love.