Will Martin

‘We are kitted with a mast of flooded gum, a linen lugsail, a sweep sail and well-crafted oars. Less than twelve feet, so a small boat to sail in. There is no anchor spare in the colony. Ours is a lump of rock that the sea has speared a hole through and, under Mr Bass’s instruction, I have threaded it with thick rope. We have only two muskets to contest pirates or cannibals, supplies for ten days, no more, and the danger is great.’

In Catherine McKinnon’s ‘Will Martin’, a lowly eighteenth-century ship’s boy provides an insightful perspective on cross-cultural misunderstandings and ‘first contact’ as he accompanies Bass and Flinders on an expedition by sea. After first appearing in Griffith Review 50: Tall Tales Short – The Novella Project III, ‘Will Martin’ was published in McKinnon’s novel Storyland (HarperCollins, 2017).

Griffith Review