Click to enlargeArrival of Captain Cook

Let me tell you more about Captain Cook first, mate…as he was a true-blue hero worthy of any Hollywood movie!

CAPTAIN JAMES COOK. Captain James Cook (pictured right) was stern, hot-tempered but he was also tall, dark and handsome! The ladies would have swooned. He was born in 1728 in Marton, Middlesbrough, England to a farm labourer and ultimately rose to become a naval officer from such humble beginnings. (note: there is now a museum near where he was born in Stewart Park in Middlesbrough) A courageous and proud man, Cook was driven by a sense of duty and personal excellence than greed or God. His secular egalitarianism, pride and loyalty to the Crown, and in particular his humble origins, seem appropriate traits for the founder of Australia which has often vaunted such characteristics as its own!

VOYAGE OF DISCOVERY ! In 1768, Captain Cook and his ship the Endeavour, had been dispatched to Tahiti and then New Zealand at the request of the Royal Society. He had onboard with him Daniel Carl Solander and Joseph Banks – two of the great botanists of the age. Having completed those duties, he was free to return to England by either the Cape or the Horn routes. Instead, he called a meeting with his crew and they decided upon a route which would lead to the unknown east coast of the then-fabled South Land. He had resolved to turn his ship “westward till we fall in with the East Coast of New Holland and then follow that direction of the coast to the northward”. At that time, the “East Coast of New Holland” was hypothetical.

DISCOVERY OF THE EAST COAST OF AUSTRALIA.The “East Coast of New Holland” which was later to be Cape Everard, was sighted on 19 April 1770. Sailing northwards along the coast, Cook found a convenient harbour on 28 April 1770 where the ship could drop anchor and he and his men could investigate local conditions. [see location of Captain Cooks Landing Point] The crew feasted on fresh fish, and the delighted botanists Solander and Banks discovered an extraordinary array of plants, birds and animals previously unknown to science. No naturalists before or since Solander and Banks have ever collected in such a short time so many new specimens of plant, bird and animal life. Initially, Captain Cook named the anchorage place “Stingray Harbour Bay” because his men ate their fill of seafoods, but upon the many botanical discovery by Solander and Banks, he renamed it “Botany Bay”.

CLAIMING POSSESSION OF THE LAND FOR BRITAIN. Further north, Cook noted the existence of what seemed to be a fine natural harbour and named it Port Jackson. So near, yet so far, mate. The wonderful setting setting of what was to be the future city of Sydney, had to await full discovery until the arrival of the First Fleet 18 years later. Captain Cook later sailed nothwards to the tip of Cape York, where on Possession Island (how apt !), he hoisted the British "Union Jack" flag, and declared the whole of eastern Australia to be British, giving it the name of New South Wales. (see picture above, overleft)

END OF THE ROAD FOR CAPTAIN COOK. Captain Cook was indeed a man ahead of his time, seeing beyond beyond his own culture. On the Aborigines in Australia, he wrote "In reality they are far more happier than we Europeans; they are wholy unacquinted with the superfluous conveniences so much sought after in Europe...the Earth and sea of their own accord furnishes them will all things necessary for life". Later promoted to Captain, Cook went on to become the first to sail within the Antartic Circle. He also discovered the Hawaiian islands, where he met his death at the hands of Polynesian natives. As he was mediating in a relatively trivial dispute with the islanders, one of his men stupidly discharged his firearm. Enraged, the islanders fell upon Cook, who had turned his back on them to restore order, and he collapsed beneath blows from clubs and daggers.

[NEXT: the arrival of the First Fleet and colonialisation of Australia, 3 of 12]

Captain Cooks Landing Point
Captain Cooks Landing Point


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