Lizard Island A reconstruction of the life of Mrs Watson

Jillian Robertson (published under maiden name prior to 1980)


No rain. Morning fine weather. Ah Sam preparing to die. Have not seen him since 9. Ferrier more cheerful. Self not feeling at all well. Have not seen any boat of any description. No water. Near dead with thirst.

Mrs Watson of Lizard Island became a heroine in Queensland after the poignant diary of her sea voyage was found beside her skeleton on a lonely coral atoll in the Great Barrier Reef

In September 1881 Mary Watson had been left on Lizard Island while her husband established another beche-de-mer fishing station further north. Her three-month-old son and two Chinamen were her only companions; two rifles and a pistol her only protection. When Ah Leong was killed by Aborigines, Mary, Ah Sam and her baby escaped in an old tank. They floated for ten days at the mercy of the sea before coming ashore on the atoll where their remains were found four months later.

This reconstruction of the life of Mrs Watson not only relates the tale of her desperate bid for safety but also paints a colourful picture of her childhood in Cornwall and the days of the Queensland gold rush when so many people migrated in the hope of making their fortune.

A fascinating chronicle of courage and tragedy in the early days of Australia.