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4 June 2013

German Harry

Aerial view of Deliverance IslandAerial View from the North of Deliverance Island, locally called Warul Kawa (Island of Turtles)

"............. we reached the welcome shelter of Deliverance Island. Perhaps half a mile or so in circumference, ringed with a beach of white coral sand, crowned with coconut palms dancing in the breeze, and surrounded by a wide fringing reef, it resembled an island such as might be imagined in a boyhood adventure book ........"

 

W. Somerset Maugham wrote some very evocative short stories of life in the islands, including "German Harry" which is set on Deliverance Island in the Torres Strait, halfway between Australia and Papua New Guinea:

"I was in Thursday Island and I wanted very much to go to New Guinea. Now the only way in which I could do this was by getting a pearling lugger to take me across the Arafura Sea. The pearl fishery at that time was in a bad way and a flock of neat little craft lay anchored in the harbour. I found a skipper with nothing much to do (the journey to Merauke and back could hardly take him less than a month) and with him I made the necessary arrangements. He engaged four Torres Straits islanders as crew (the boat was but nineteen tons) and we ransacked the local store for canned goods. A day or two before I sailed a man who owned a number of pearlers came to me and asked whether on my way I would stop at the island of Trebucket and leave a sack of flour, another of rice, and some magazines for the hermit who lived there.

I pricked up my ears. It appeared that the hermit had lived by himself on this remote and tiny island for thirty years ..."

To continue reading this fascinating story, click here.