The announcement that a replica of HMS Endeavour, the ship used by Whitby’s most famous adopted son, Captain James Cook on his voyage Down Under, is to make a multi-million pound circumnavigation of Australia has re-ignited debate about the adventurer’s role in the country’s history.
Cook, who was born in Marton and grew up in Great Ayton, set sail for the Pacific in 1768, reaching New Zealand in October 1769, and New South Wales, Australia, the following year. From there, the Endeavour sailed along Australia’s east coast, coming close to oblivion when she ran aground on the Great Barrier Reef.
Next year, a replica of Endeavour will circumnavigate Australia in a voyage that will last over a year and will be paid for using £3.72m of Australian Government cash as part of a £27m fund set aside to commemorate the 250th anniversary of the original voyage.
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the famed explorer’s expedition “is the reason Australia is what it is today and it’s important we take the opportunity to reflect on it”.
“As the 250th anniversary nears we want to help Australians better understand Captain Cook’s historic voyage and its legacy for exploration, science and reconciliation,” he said.
However, the announcement has raised a few eyebrows, not due to the cost of the circumnavigation, but the fact Cook did not sail all the way around Australia and the debate over the legacy of British involvement Down Under.
Commentator Greg Jericho tweeted: “They do realise Cook didn’t circumnavigate Australia, right?”, while journalist Karen Sweeney pointed out that indigenous Australians arrived in Australia “give or take, 65,000 years ago” and other European sailors had visited the continent before.
Australia’s love affair with Cook goes so far that the cottage in which his parents lived in Great Ayton now resides in Melbourne, where it was brought in 1934 by Sir Russell Grimwade.