Detail from map

Above - Detail from one of the fold-out charts from book: "Champion Bay area showing Stokes's track to Wizard Peak" and below detail from a more modern chart of the area.

New chart

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First published 1989 Reprinted 1989 by Melbourne University Press
ISBN 0 522 84376 X

A blue cloth bound book in NEAR FINE condition in NEAR FINE condition wrapper


360 pages 158 mm. x 240 mm. x 35 mm.

Weight wrapped <1.1 kilo.

£55.00 Including UK postage!

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Jacket blurbs

Few of the feats and foibles of Australia's inland explorers have escaped the historian's scrutiny. Not so those of the men who charted her vast and lonely coastline.

As the middle of the 1800s approached, trading profits were being threatened by heavy losses at sea—often upon uncharted reefs and shores. The British Hydrographic Office undertook a series of surveying voyages, the first commanded by Matthew Flinders and the second by Phillip Parker King.

The third voyage—the subject of this book—lasted six years and was undertaken by H.M.S. Beagle, of Charles Darwin fame. To John Lort Stokes she was home for eighteen years, and it was during the Australian voyage that his years of zealous service as assistant surveyor were rewarded by command of the ship.

Stokes circumnavigated Australia twice. Free to probe Australia's unknown coast, he was the last Royal Navy surveyor to hold such a roving commission. He discovered the Fitzroy, Albert and Flinders rivers and Port Darwin, and his most notable achievement was the charting of that graveyard of sailing ships—Bass Strait. He was the first naval surveyor in Australia to undertake considerable inland journeys as extensions of maritime work. More than a century later, twelve of his charts were still in use.

Undoubtedly a sober, conscientious and earnest man, his occasional acts of breathtaking foolhardiness bring the reader up short —as they must have done his men. Is it really Stokes who, in disregarding the tide, twice risked his own and other lives on a whim; who staged daredevil escapes from crocodiles; and who embodied the tantalizing image of a man running alone, half-crazed, towards the centre of Australia?

Marsden Hordern does not shy from human paradox, and is much drawn to life's ironies, complexities and humour. He has no difficulty, for example, in counterpointing this scholarly maritime history with the concern of the mate, Helpman, at the cost of keeping himself in gloves appropriate to the Sydney society he relished. Helpman is a chatty, witty chronicler of events important and trivial; with Hordem, we lament his appointment to another ship half-way through the voyage.

Mariners are Warned! is an urbane book written with empathy by a fellow mariner. It has a particularly strong sense of relatedness to times past and present. A chain of association and shared service links Stokes with Flinders and King and thence with Bligh and the venerated Cook. Another chain runs forward to a night in 1945 when Hordem, a young naval captain, heard an old surveyor's warning voice and so saved his ship from impending disaster.

Marsden Hordern is a fifth-generation Australian. Much of his life has been associated with the sea. He served in the Royal Australian Navy during World War II and for many years after-wards in its Reserve, attaining the rank of Lieutenant Commander. In 1947 he was drawn to ocean sailing, and for some years navigated a gaff-rigged schooner in the early Sydney–Hobart yacht races, using instruments which would have been familiar to Stokes.

He graduated from the faculty of Arts at the University of Sydney in 1947, and in 1959 founded the print gallery of which he is still proprietor. His interest in history is of long standing, and for some years he served on the council of the Royal Australian Historical Society.



Lieutenant Stokes, Assistant Surveyor

1 Prelude to the Voyage
2 To the Land of Promise
3 Hopes Deferred
4 In Dampier's Wake
5 Mangroves, Mud and Misery
6 Soldiers in Trouble
7 The Southern Ocean
8 Sydney Society
9 Bass Strait
10 North of Capricorn
11 The River Hunters
12 Darwin Remembered
13 `A noble river'
14 Shadows of Death
15 Houtman's Abrolhos, Timor and the Montebellos
16 Return to Sydney

Commander Stokes, Captain of the Beagle

17 New Captain for the Beagle
18 In Flinders's Wake
19 Stokes Plays Politics
20 The Tasmanian Connection
21 Heading for Home


I Admiralty Instructions for the Voyage
II The Beagle and Her Equipment
III Helpman and His Journals


Wrapper spine

The jacket illustration is a detail from Richard Bridges Beechey's painting of Lieutenant J. L. Stokes speared at Point Pearce in Northern Australia, 7 December 1839

Book's spine
Wrapper front
Front cover
The Discovery and Exploration of North America to 1776. With a cartographical emphasis by such experts as W. P. Cumming, S. E. Hellier, D. B. Quinn and Glyndwr Williams,
LODESTONE and EVENING STAR: The seamen who mapped the world by Ian Cameron. A magnificent theme, magnificently handled. Within the confines of a single volume Ian Cameron unfolds the story of exploration by sea, from the voyages of the ancient Egyptians to the twentieth century. The Discovery and Exploration of North America to 1776. With a cartographical emphasis by such experts as W. P. Cumming, S. E. Hellier, D. B. Quinn and Glyndwr Williams,
WHEN THE POLE STAR SHONE- A history of exploration by Michael Langley: This book emphasises the human factor as it traces geographical exploration back to ancient times. A detailed account of early exploration reveals that Europeans have, for the most part, been rediscovering the earth, rather than unveiling it for the first time