Wednesday, July 3, 2024


Rummaging  about  North Queensland  , our Shipping Reporter  found   a  sunned copy of  the  above book  by Louis  Becke, once    regarded  internationally  as   the  renowned  Australian  writer  with  a  swag  of  stories   about  the  fabulous   South  Pacific. 

His extensive  writings , which included  books,  short  stories, novellas, historic and ethnographic  works,  were compared   to Rudyard  Kipling , Herman   Melville , Joseph  Conrad and  Robert  Louis Stevenson.

Furthermore, Becke ( 1855-1913 )  had worked as a  bank clerk in Townsville  after  failing to  make his fortune in the North Queensland  goldfields.

Born in  Port Macquarie ,NSW,  George Louis Becke's adventures started at an early age.  In 1869  he  sailed to  San  Francisco , then , aged  16, he stowed away on a  ship bound for  Samoa. In following years  his experiences included  sailing a ketch, involvement  with  the notorious  blackbirder William "Bully" Hayes, being  shipwrecked  and  acquittal  in  Brisbane  of  a  charge of  piracy .

Lured  to the  North Queensland  goldfields , he took part in the Palmer River rush  , lived  at Charters Towers , a mining boomtown, worked for a time at Ravenswood  Station.  Then  he  did  a quiet spell  in  the Townsville bank  from  l878-l879.

He was encouraged to write  his experiences by J.F.Archibald of  The Bulletin , Sydney. By Reef and Palm, a collection of short stories , was published in London in 1894  and  reprinted three times that year . One of the stories in the book , Nell of Milliner's Camp, was set in a North Queensland  mining camp. Becke was popular in  America , some of  his  output  published  there.