Literary Representations of The Great Barrier Reef


  • Stephen Torre James Cook University



In 1626 Samuel Purchas published an anthology of travel stories which included an account by François Pyrard de Laval of his shipwreck on a coral reef in the Maldives for 5 years in the first decade of the seventeenth century. Purchas translates Laval's account of the coral atolls as follows:
All the shallowes are stone, Rocke and sand, so that when the tide is out, it reacheth not to ones waste, and for the most part to the mid-legge; so that is were very easie to goe wihtout a Boate throughout all the Isles of the same Atollon, if it were not for two causes. The one great fishes called Paimones, which devoure men and breake their legges and armes, when they encounter them; the other is that the depths of the Sea are generally very keene and sharpe Rockes which hurt them wonderfully that goe into it. And moreover they meete with many branches of a certaine thing which I know not whether to terme Tree or Rocke, it is not much unlike white Corall, which is also branched and piercing, but altogether polished; on the contrary, this is rugged, all hollow and pierced with little holes and passages, yet abides hard and ponderous as a stone. (Purchas, vol IX, 509).




How to Cite

Torre, S. (2008). Literary Representations of The Great Barrier Reef. ETropic: Electronic Journal of Studies in the Tropics, 7.