King of the Australian Coast
by Marsden Hordern

The Voyages of Phillip Parker King

in the “Mermaid” and “Bathurst”

Winner of the New South Wales Premier’s Literary Award for History


“Phillip Parker King is perhaps one of Australia’s greatest yet largely unsung early maritime surveyors. Hordern relives King’s series of gruelling voyages between 1817 and 1822 – from the maritime hazards of the reefs, shoals, tides and unpredictable weather to the unfamiliar wildlife and Aboriginal presence he encountered along the way.

“He charted most of the north-west coast of Australia from the eastern tip of Arnhem Land all the way round to Cape Leeuwin and King George Sound on the southern shores of Western Australia. He surveyed Macquarie Harbour in Van Diemen’s Land and the treacherous waters inside the Great Barrier Reef, filling gaps in the work of his famous predecessors.

“King may well have been overshadowed by Cook and Flinders but his legacy has been enduring – more than a century later his charts, still in use, have guided countless ships through dangerous waters to safety.”

On board with Phillip Parker King were two people who also played an important role in Australian colonial history, Allan Cunningham and John Septimus Roe

The above text is quoted from the back cover of the book.


Marsden Hordern commanded a Royal Australian Navy patrol boat in World War II and received the Volunteer Reserve Decoration for his naval service. He graduated from the Faculty of Arts at the University of Sydney, which recently awarded him the honorary degree of Doctor of Letters. He has had a lifelong association with the sea and ocean sailing, and in early Sydney-Hobart yacht races he used instruments that King would have understood perfectly.

First Published 1997
copyright © Marsen Carr Hordern
Published by Melbourne University Press
ISBN : 052285043X (pbk)