Evison served as a merchant seaman from the age of thirteen and a half, voyaging to China, India and elsewhere. In a biographical note submitted to the The Bulletin Story Book
(1901) he said he had 'seen a good deal of the world and of sailorising; commanded most civilised and uncivilised rigs, and once helped to steal a gunbouat. Also owned a junk, which was taked by Chinese pirates near Chusan, China - managed to swim ashore. Have seen some regular and irregular soldiering, greatly to advantage of latter. Went to Maoriland twenty year ago, and have been in Australasia ever since, becoming tamed and domesticated by means of lecturing and journalism - specially the latter, which is very taming.'