The Blue-Eyed Aborigine

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Jan Pelgrom is an 18-year-old cabin boy on the Batavia as it sails on its maiden journey along the west coast of Australia in 1629 on its way to Java. A miserable voyage for Jan is made worse by tensions amongst the ships command leading to talk of mutiny amongst the crew.

Before a mutiny is fully organised, the Batavia is shipwrecked on the Houtman Abrolhos Islands, 40 miles off the coast of Western Australia. Factions soon form amongst the survivors of the shipwreck with the enigmatic Under-Merchant Corneliez taking control and ruling the group of passengers, soldiers and sailors through fear and threats of violence.

When Corneliez is finally overthrown, those who supported him are punished with many loosing their lives. Spared death because of earlier good deeds, Jan Pelgrom and soldier Wouter Looes are instead marooned on the mainland of Australia when the other survivors are rescued and taken to Java.

Jan and Wouter must learn how to survive in a harsh land very different to their homeland of Holland. Surrounded by strange plants and animals, their only hope could lie with befriending the local Aboriginal people and learning from them.

The shipwreck of the Dutch East India Company ship Batavia off the coast of Western Australia in 1629 is a well documented early European encounter with the Great Southland. Based on the diary of the ship’s Commander, The Blue-Eyed Aborigine offers a possible explanation for the European traits of fair-hair and blue eyes found amongst some Aboriginal groups in Western Australia.

The Blue-Eyed Aborigine is a fascinating adventure story about a real-life drama including the possibility of early contact between Indigenous Australians and Western Europeans. Suitable for readers aged 13+, this interesting based-on-fact historical fiction novel is likely to appeal to teens with an interest in Australian history, particularly stories of early European contact with Aboriginal Australians.

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Cite this page

Korff, J 2018, The Blue-Eyed Aborigine, <>, retrieved 25 May 2024

Creative Spirits is a starting point for everyone to learn about Aboriginal culture. Please use primary sources for academic work.

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