The Price of a Pearl
by Rod Dickson
ISBN 085905 297 4, (2002 new), Soft Cover, section sewn, illustrated, 204 pages, 270grams
$30.00 + POST
Incidents of pearling life, shipwrecks and murders in the North West of Western Australia, never before told.
In twenty two individual stories, mostly unpublished, I have attempted to portray the hardships encountered by the thousands of men who were engaged in the pearling industry during the early part of the 1900s in the northwest of Western Australia. The industry, in these years, was central to the township of Broome, truly the melting pot of nationalities. Apart from the Australians Japanese, Koepangers, Malays, Javanese and Manilamen made up the majority of races but there were also Americans, Chileans, Peruvians, Finns, Germans, and many other races represented in the industry. Many of these men were never to see their homelands again and were buried in lonely, mostly unmarked graves, scattered along the vast distances of the northwest coast or consigned to the depths of the sea
Divers, tenders, crewmembers, shellopeners, skippers and owners all paid the ultimate price through carelessness, wild nature, storms and cyclones. More than a thousand deaths with hundreds of luggers, schooners and ketches wrecked all for the price of a pearl.
Rod Dickson went to sea at 15 and ‘has been there ever since’. An honorary Associate of the Fremantle Maritime Museum, he has been cataloging the State’s maritime history. Currently he serves aboard the North West Storm Petrel, a LNG tanker trading to Japan.