On this day, 29 April in 1770, Lieutenant (later Captain) James Cook, botanist Joseph Banks and the crew of their tall sailing ship “HMS Endeavour” made their first landing on Australian soil – at (now) Kurnell Peninsula in Botany Bay, NSW.
Cook first named the bay “Stingrays Harbour” but later renamed it “Botany Bay” after Banks retrieved an incredible range of unique botanical specimens from the area.
Cook's first southern expedition of 1768-71 rounded Cape Horn (the southern tip of South America) to observe the Transit of Venus at Tahiti, near the middle of the Pacific Ocean. Cook also held a commission to search further west in the south Pacific for “Terra Australis” – the legendary rich and great southern land.
After finding, circumnavigating and accurately mapping New Zealand (to confirm it was not Terra Australis), Cook sailed west across the Tasman Sea. He first sighted the Australian continent near Point Hicks (far-eastern Gippsland) before heading north and mapping the coastline until sailing into Botany Bay around 10 days later. Whilst they first saw Aborigines near Bawley Point (between Ulladulla and Bateman’s Bay) a few days prior, Botany Bay was where Cook and his crew first made contact with a local 'Gweagal' tribe.
Cook’s expedition was the first recorded observation and landing of the east coast of the Australian continent (New Holland) by Europeans. It also kicked off Britain’s interest in Australia, sowing the seeds for our eventual colonisation, Western-Christian institutions and proud nationhood.
Cook’s fine leadership, mapping and discoveries (both scientific and geographic) helped expand the British Empire to Australia and across the globe.
Commemorate Cook’s historic 29 April 1770 landing in Botany Bay by:
- [if you’re in/near Sydney] visiting Cook’s Kurnell monument (or Botany Bay more generally) and soaking up the sights of this historic beginning and the story behind it
- [if you’re in FNQ, in the next little while] visiting the James Cook Museum in Cooktown, on the Endeavour River (where his crew had to take respite to repair damage to the Endeavour)
- flying the Aussie flag in your yard, or waving one from your car
- have a 'Captain Cook' (i.e. a look) online at Cook’s pivotal life and his three great voyages
- considering the amazing leadership, stoicism and courage required of such voyages and expeditions in the vast, wild and largely unknown Pacific
- celebrating the great legacy Cook and his crew left us with, the wonderful nation our predecessors then built and bequeathed us, and the responsibility we have in handing it on to future Australians
- reflecting on what Australia might look and be like now had Cook not discovered Australia (or had the British not colonised it), and/or
- sharing this Action Plan post on social media with family, friends and other proudly patriotic Aussies.
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