A Travellerspoint blog

Cooktown - Day 2

Sunday 19 July 2015

Sunny and warm again today with an expected temperature of 25 degrees.

We started the day with a walk along the Endeavour River foreshore where most of the monuments are related to the early days of Cooktown and Captain Cook's visit in 1770. We stopped at the fish shop but they had sold out of prawns so we will be back tomorrow. We made another visit to the Coffee Kitchen and shared a Vanilla Slice and a Mixed Berry Tart with coffees for lunch.

After lunch we went to the James Cook Museum which is housed in a 19th century convent building, and showcases the early history of Cooktown. In 1872 gold was discovered at Palmer River and Cooktown became a busy transit point for miners heading to the goldfields. In fact 18,000 Chinese miners passed through Cooktown between 1872 and 1878 heading for Palmer River.

The major exhibit at the Museum is the Endeavour Gallery, which features the anchor and a cannon from the Endeavour that were thrown overboard as Cook tried to free the Endeavour from the Great Barrier Reef where they had run aground. These items were recovered in the 1970's. The display included excerpts from Cook's Log of the Endeavour and the Journals of Joseph Banks and others during their time at Cooktown - fascinating reading.

James Cook and the Endeavour departed England on 25 August 1868 with a complement of 96 passengers and crew, to explore the south seas and observe the transit of Venus. On the return voyage they mapped the coast of New Zealand and the east coast of Australia. Having visited Botany Bay, the Endeavour was making its way north when they ran aground on the Great Barrier Reef near what is now Cooktown. The Endeavour spent seven weeks from 18 June 1770 to 4 August 1770 in the Endeavour River while repairs were made to the ship.

The ship then continued on to Batavia for further repairs before sailing back to England, arriving on 12 July 1771, almost three years after leaving England. Of the total complement of 96, 38 died on the voyage, mainly from typhoid and dysentery while in Batavia. The final word on Cook's first voyage to the South Seas (he made three voyages in total) comes from a traditional children's poem:

Captain Cook chased a chook, All around Australia, Lost his pants in the middle of France, and found them in Tasmania.


Fountain in an old well at Cooktown.


Captain Cook Memorial - Landed 17 June 1770


Old cannon cast in Scotland in 1806 provided to Cooktown in 1885 for defence against a Russian invasion.


The Musical Ship at Cooktown.


James Cook Memorial at Cooktown.


Inscription on the Cook Memorial at Cooktown.


A typical miner on his way to the Palmer River Goldfields.


Memorial to the 18,000 Chinese miners who went to the Palmer River Goldfields.


James Cook Museum at Cooktown.


One of Endeavour's cannon recovered from the Reef.


Endeavour's anchor recovered from the Reef.

Posted by TwoAces 03:53

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