2020 marks the 250th anniversary of Captain James Cook and the HMB Endeavour charted the East Coast of Australia. The Australian National Maritime Museum has a great many events, activities and displays related to this, as well as being one of the most interesting museums to visit in Sydney. They hosted a discussion featuring two prominent Historians who have studied Cook, Peter FitzSimons and John Maynard.
Here are a few good podcast episodes that examine Cook and his legacy.
The ABC podcast Big Ideas has another interview with both these historians discussing Cook and how he should be remembered.
The BBC In Our Time podcast below discusses the scientific advances made in the three voyages of Captain James Cook, from 1768 to 1779. These voyages astonished Europeans, bringing back detailed knowledge of the Pacific and its people, from the Antarctic to the Bering Straits.
The History Extra podcast interviews journalist and author Peter Moore about HMB Endeavour, the ship that carried Cook on his landmark voyage to the Pacific 250 years ago.
Another perspective on Cook and his arrival in Australia is provided by The Strange Big Canoe, created with the team from Ample Projects, which was shown projected on the roof of the Australian National Maritime Museum. It is based on journal records and Indigenous histories. It details key points from HMB Endeavour’s voyage along the east coast of Australia into the perspectives of Indigenous communities along the shore and officers and crew on the ship.
East Cost Encounter: Re-imagining 1770 is a modern examination of many of the places Cook landed on the east coast of Australia. A group of artists visit Australia’s east coast and the key places where Cook landed. The artists express their views and reflect on the impact of this event in the lives of Australia’s Indigenous peoples and the generations to come.
History Guild Members can read the full account in Cook’s own A Voyage Towards the South Pole and Round the World in the library and listen to the Audiobook of it here.
Cook’s mapping of the east coast of Australia was only one part of his incredible history as a navigator. Cook joined the British merchant navy as a teenager, then the Royal Navy in 1755. He saw action in the Seven Years’ War including mapping the entrance to the Saint Lawrence River during the siege of Quebec. This brought him to the attention of the Admiralty and Royal Society and led to his commission in 1766 as commander of HM Bark Endeavour for the first of three Pacific voyages.
In these voyages, Cook sailed thousands of miles across largely uncharted areas of the globe. He mapped lands from New Zealand to Hawaii in the Pacific Ocean in greater detail and on a scale not previously charted by Western explorers. He surveyed and named features, and recorded islands and coastlines on European maps for the first time. He displayed a combination of seamanship, superior surveying and cartographic skills, physical courage, and an ability to lead men in adverse conditions.
If you’d like a different perspective on Cook’s exploration you can have a go at recreating them in the game Views from the Shore – Cook’s Voyages. While it is quite a simple online game it does have some interesting elements.