Captain James Cook's Endeavour Journal 1768-71
In his journal, Cook records landing at and naming Botany Bay and Endeavour River, the claiming of the east coast of Australia for England, and his encounters with the Aboriginal people.
My tenure as Aide-de-Camp to His Excellency the Governor General of Australia
Midshipman Isaac Smith's Snuff Box
An Australian living in South Africa, had come across Smith's snuff box, he had purchased this box, and forwarded it to the Governor General for presentation to the Kurnell Trust on an appropriate occasion.
The Vice Regal attendance for this anniversary of Captain Cook's landing at Botany Bay in 1770, was deemed to be the time for Smith's snuff box to be presented.
I was given custody of this treasure, with an order from His Excellency: "Commander, when we visit Botany Bay, and I give my speech, there will be a spot for me to present Isaac Smith's Snuff Box to the Chairman of the Kurnell Trust. It will be your task to produce the box and hand it to me, now, do not lose it, and do not forget to conjure it up at the very right moment." No Your Excellency, was of course my response!
Engraving around the edge of Isaac Smith's Snuff Box
This alluded to the story, that when the ship's boat ran up on the beach at Botany Bay, with Elizabeth Cook's nephew, Midshipman Isaac Smith in her bows, Captain James Cook told him to jump ashore first, thus a humble Midshipman, was in fact, the first white man to set foot upon the this new continent in the southern hemisphere.
Cook's Original Journal held at Australia's National Library Canberra
On the 21st. of March 1923, the Australian Government acquired this Journal for 5000 Pounds, to be held at the National Library of Australia on "behalf of the nation."
My visit to the National Library to view Cook's Journal
I telephoned the Commonwealth Librarian at our National Library, identified myself, and told him that
Of course the Librarian agreed to this request, and I went off excitedly to the National Library to view this wonderful Journal.
Entry for Sunday the 29th. of April 1770
This was at Kurnell (native Kundel) the S or SW head Cook called on his chart Port Solander, the N or NE one Cape Banks.
Entry for Sunday 6th. of May.
Captain James Cook's Journal in my hands
What a thrill, as I turned to the entry for the 29th. of April 1770 to read about Endeavour's entry into the Bay and the landing at Kurnell.
Then on the entry for the 6th. of May where on his fourth attempt Cook named his entry point Botany Bay.
I tried to put myself in Cook's shoes and into his mind, what might he have thought about as he penned those words? Already he had been away from home a long time, and both he and his crew faced a long and arduous voyage home. Little could he have guessed what a wonderful nation he founded on that first day he went ashore and claimed this land for Britain.
Isaac Smith becomes an Admiral
There seems little reason to doubt the this tradition they installed.
It seemed to me, that it would be appropriate for the Governor General and his party to emulate Captain Cook and arrive at Botany Bay, Kurnell by ship.
To this end, I telephoned the Flag Officer Commanding the Australian Fleet, and indicated to him that as His Excellency, under our Constitution, was the Commander in Chief, the GG wondered which of his Naval Ships might be available to transport him, and his party to Botany Bay, for the 181st. Anniversary of Captain James Cook landing there.
The Admiral thought for a moment, and responded: The frigate, HMAS Culgoa.
I thanked him, and now had the task of selling my idea to His Excellency, but not in just those terms.
My approach was:"Your Excellency, for your visit to Botany Bay, the Admiral Commanding your Australian Fleet has offered to provide your Ship, HMAS Culgoa to transport you there. What are your wishes Sir?" My ship HMAS Culgoa! the Governor General says, "Oh yes Sir, you are the Commander in Chief, and I think it might seem churlish if you did not accept this offer." The day was won without any further ado, I tell Sir William that I will ensure Her Excellency, and their daughter Betty, would take some anti- seasick pills before we sailed, and all should be well.
The actual visit to Botany Bay
This visit went off very nicely, His Excellency related how Cook had only on his fourth attempt, named Botany Bay, my rabbit out of the hat, the snuff box came to light at the right moment, and was received with enthusiasm. A great day indeed!
This Journal is available as a CD-ROM ISBN. 0642 10692 4
It is a wonderful work, on one side of a page is the Journal in Cook's hand, and on the other side is the transcript of that specific page.
For anyone interested in further exploring Cook's voyages, his ship Endeavour, and his discovery of the East Coast of Australia, I thoroughly recommend this CD-ROM.