Australian Navigators. Tiley, Robert. 2002

Australian Navigators. Tiley, Robert. 2002

Tiley, Robert. 
Australian Navigators.
Kangaroo Press.
ISBN 0 7318 1118 6.

I purchased this book largely as a result of my surprise at encountering a lone copy in a bookshop in Basildon, Essex, UK a town not known for its interest in matters maritime or antipodean! But I was glad that I made the purchase as the book’s 244 pages have added greatly to my knowledge and interpretation of Cook, his contemporary explorers, and their successors.

The author’s interest in antique books and maps prompted this work, although it is interesting to note that the first name in his Acknowledgements is that of Geoffrey Ingleton, the Australian maritime historian and illustrator who died in 1998. The book is packed with sufficient information to enable the reader to place the voyages of Cook et al into political context on a global scale. On many occasions I found that the book provided me with answers to questions that had never entered my head!

Tilley highlights Cook’s role in unknowingly establishing a dynasty of successful British navigators, and he undertakes an interesting analysis of those many variables that may determine whether or not an expedition will lead to success or failure.

The book goes on to chart the chronological exploration of the Australian coast in the late 18th and early 19th centuries; a saga of voyages, encounters and wrecks that reflect the same spirit of adventure that drove Cook across the Pacific. The book ends with the race between Flinders and Baudin to publish the first map of the complete coastline - which was won by the French in 1811. The author has thoughtfully included a glossary for non-maritime readers, and a useful list of books for further reading.

A jolly good read - if you can find a copy.

Cliff Thornton

Originally published in Cook's Log, page 27, volume 27, number 4 (2004).

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