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Incomparable Captain Cadell

Incomparable Captain Cadell by John Nicholson
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In an age when exploration was at its peak, Francis Cadell’s career reads like the quintessential boy’s own adventure. Born and raised on the Leith waterfront into a large family of ambitious achievers, he was lured early to a life on the high seas. In 1836 at the age of fourteen, he sailed to China where he ran supplies and ammunition to the besieged city of Canton during the Opium Wars. He then made his way to the Americas where he paddled up the Amazon in a canoe and tried his luck on the Californian goldfields. From there to South-East Asia, India and finally Australia where he settled down long enough to indulge his growing obsession with both steam technology and big rivers. Establishing a paddle steamer fleet on the Murray-Darling river system, this now legendary transport system carried vital supplies to men like Burke and Wills as they struggled to open up the interior. But it was never Cadell’s destiny to end his days behind a desk. On the move again, he explored parts of Australia’s northern coastline, directed miniature navel operations on the Waikato River during the Maori Wars, and then gravitated back to the tropical waters of Australia’s pearling coast where he met his bizarre and untimely end.This is a tale of courage, enterprise and ultimately murder, illuminating a fascinating era in Australia’s history and the life of a truly enigmatic man.
Allen & Unwin; February 2004
319 pages; ISBN 9781741152821
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Title: Incomparable Captain Cadell
Author: John Nicholson