Australian PM Announces Funding for Captain Cook Voyage

January 23, 2019 Updated: January 23, 2019

A replica of the ship HMB Endeavour is set to navigate the coast of Australia after PM Scott Morrison announced funding to commemorate Captain Cook’s first voyage to Australia.

Around $6.7 million will be given to the National Maritime Museum, which will lead the ship’s circumnavigation, and a further $5.45 million will be given to the Cooktown 2020 project.

The 14-month voyage will begin in Sydney on March 2020, then head south to Hobart before turning north and sailing right around the country’s coastline.

“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,” Morrison said in a statement on Jan. 22.

“From Far North Queensland and the Cooktown 2020 Festival, across to Bunbury and down to Hobart, our government will ensure Australians young and old can see first-hand the legacy of Captain Cook and the voyage of the Endeavour,” Morrison added.

Time to Rediscover James Cook

Morrison told 4CA radio station that it is important for Australians to rediscover Captain James Cook as he was considered an enlightened man for his time.

“The thing about Cook is I think we need to rediscover him a bit because he gets a bit of a bad show from some of those who like to sort of talk down our history,” Morrison told the radio station on Jan. 22.

“This guy was an enlightened man for his generation and his time.”

Cook established himself as an outstanding surveyor, voyaging to North America, Canada’s Newfoundland and Labrador before being tasked to survey Terra Australis Incognita—the unknown southern land that came to be Australia.

He was instructed to sail to Tahiti to observe the transit of Venus in 1769 and also to ascertain whether a continent existed in the southern latitudes of the Pacific Ocean.

Cook first sighted Australia in April 1770 but did not circumnavigate the continent. It would be some 30 years in 1801 when Matthew Flinders sailed around the entire country on board HMS Investigator. Cook charted the east coast, named prominent landmarks and collected botanical specimens. His expedition was stalled temporarily when the Endeavour struck the Great Barrier Reef; this incident also led to the first recorded meeting with local Indigenous people.

Cook’s discovery “changed Australia forever” Australian National Maritime Museum said in a statement.

“That voyage is the reason Australia is what it is today and it’s important we take the opportunity to reflect on it,” Morrison said.

A Voyage of Reconciliation

According to the Australian National Maritime Museum, this is a voyage of reconciliation, “which will aim to build relationships, respect and trust between the wider Australian community and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.”

Local indigenous culture will also be celebrated at the Cooktown 2020 Festival where the focal point of the anniversary will be based. It was here in Cooktown, where Cook and his crew found refuge when the Endeavour was severely damaged. This was a period of extraordinary discovery and significant contact between Cook and the Indigenous people, according to the Cooktown 2020 website.

“We’ve got great stories—some of them are hard, some of them are magnificent—but we’ve got to tell them all,” Morrison said.

“That’ll be great for tourism and it will also be a great opportunity just to talk about our history—the view from the shore, the view from the ship – and very much understanding those two stories,” Mr Morrison said.

The voyage, which will start on March 2020 and end in May 2021, is expected to make 39 stops; six in NSW, four in Victoria, one in Tasmania, 1 in Queensland, two in the Northern Territory, eight in Western Australia and four in South Australia.

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