A Voyage to Terra Australis
In 1814, navigator Matthew Flinders described one of his first encounters with Torres Strait Islanders:
'Their canoes are about fifty feet in length, and appear to have been hollowed out of a single tree; but the pieces which form the gunwales are planks sewed on with the fibres of the cocoa nut, and secured with pegs. These vessels are low, forward, but rise abaft; and, being narrow, are fitted with an outrigger on each side, to keep them steady. A raft, of greater breadth than the canoe, extends over about half the length; and upon this is fixed a shed or hut, thatched with palm leaves. These people, in short, appeared to be dexterous sailors and formidable warriors; and to be as much at ease in the water, as in their canoes.'
Keywords: canoes, european contact, Flinders, Matthew , Mer, sea, Torres Strait, 1814
Matthew Flinders, 'A Voyage to Terra Australis', 1814, p.xxiii.
Author: Sharp, Nonie