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One of the best things about travelling around this country is stumbling on amazing but true stories that they don’t teach in history lessons at school.

These are the ruins of a stone cottage, once the home of twenty-one year old Mary Watson, facing the beach on a bay that now bears her name on Lizard Island, three hundred kilometres north of Cairns. Mary’s husband Robert, and his partner George Fuller, set up a beche-de-mer (sea cucumber) fishing operation here in 1879, and Mary ran the house and small farm with the help of some Chinese labourers.

The local Dingaal people, who had fished and hunted on the island for millennia, attacked one day when the men were out fishing. At least one of the Chinese workers was killed, and another seriously wounded.

Mary, her baby, and the wounded man put to sea in an iron water tank, and drifted in terrible heat for eight days before washing up on an uninhabited island. All three soon died of thirst. The Cooktown based constabulary exacted a terrible revenge on the Dingaal people. A sad end to a heart wrenching tale.

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