Provides information about the Australian Government's package of measures to commemorate the 250th Anniversary of James Cook's first voyage to Australia and the Pacific.

About the program

Captain James Cook was a British explorer, surveyor, navigator and cartographer who mapped large parts of the world including Australia's east coast and New Zealand's North and South Islands.

On 26 August 1768 Cook embarked on his first Pacific voyage, aboard the HMB Endeavour, with instructions to chart the transit of Venus across the sun at the equator. Cook went on to chart New Zealand, before continuing on to first sight the east coast of Australia at Point Hicks on 20 April 1770. As the Endeavour sailed north he charted the coast making first landfall at Botany Bay on 29 April 1770.

A further stop was made at the Town of 1770 before the Endeavour ran aground near Cooktown on 11 June. The ship was damaged and the voyage delayed while repairs were carried out. The ship then rounded Cape York, stopping at Possession Island in the Torres Strait on 22 August.

Cook's exploration of the Pacific Ocean has left a profound legacy of scientific investigation, including the first large-scale hydrographic surveys and a significant contribution to the measurement of longitude. He is also revered for his superior seamanship and disciplined leadership.

To commemorate the 250th anniversary of the voyage and acknowledge Cook's interactions with Indigenous people, funding is being provided to:

Outline of activities

Over the next two years a range of events and activities to commemorate the anniversary will take place.

Department of Communications and the Arts

We will provide support for voyaging activities by the ANMM's HMB Endeavour replica and communications associated with the government funded initiatives commemorating the anniversary.

National Library of Australia (NLA)

The NLA's Cook and the Pacific exhibition allows visitors to follow in Cook's footsteps and explore the Pacific through the eyes of the British voyagers and the First Nations Peoples they met.

Over the course of three Pacific voyages, extraordinary meetings and exchanges occurred. Focusing on place, the exhibition presents a series of meetings anchored on Pacific coastlines. Visitors can explore parts of the Pacific where Cook made landfall, including Tahiti, New Zealand, the east coast of Australia and Hawaii. The voices of the First Nations Peoples are presented alongside those of the European voyagers.

The exhibition's content, drawn from the NLA's own collection and from Australian and international cultural institutions, is varied and ranges from manuscripts and rare books, to large oil paintings and delicate watercolours by voyage artists, to objects collected on the voyage, medallions, cartoons, poetry and Indigenous responses to Cook.

The exhibition was held from 22 September 2018 to 10 February 2019. We interviewed the NLA's curator of maps, Martin Woods, about the significance of the maps Captain Cook used before he began his first voyage and the charting completed throughout the Pacific and Australia on these voyages.

In collaboration with the ANMM and the NMA, the NLA will also develop a digital platform which will bring together stories of exploration, contact and encounter, and provide Australians with a rich and dynamic experience through an interactive website.

National Museum of Australia (NMA)

The NMA will display an exhibition that will represent the perspectives of both non-Indigenous and Indigenous Australians about Cook's voyage and its continuing and contested legacies today. It will do this by counterpointing the 'view from the ship' with the 'view from the shore'.

The NMA will also develop a Cultural Connections program which will offer a range of professional capacity building opportunities, including fellowships, for Indigenous people from regional communities who work in the cultural heritage sector, through working on projects relevant to their communities and areas of cultural expertise, with the support of staff from the NMA, NLA and ANMM.

Australian National Maritime Museum (ANMM)

The ANMM is developing a broad program of events, titled Encounters 2020. The events will explore stories of contact, encounter and transformation involving Indigenous, migrant and other communities from Australia and beyond, and will create new opportunities for innovative exploration of Cook's legacy.

The ANMM's replica of Captain Cook's HMB Edeavour will circumnavigate the country starting from Sydney in March 2020, providing an opportunity for Australians to experience the historic voyage and its legacy for exploration, science and reconciliation. the ANMM will host a series of events and activities at each of its proposed 39 stops, with the details and final itinerary expected to be announced in the first half of 2019 following community consultation.

The ANMM will also develop an interactive online game that provides users with an insight into the challenges that Cook faced during his voyage.

Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies (AIATSIS)

AIATSIS is leading a Return of Cultural Heritage Project to intensify the effort to bring Australian First Nations' cultural heritage material held overseas back to its original custodians and owners.

The anniversary marks the start of a process of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultural heritage being removed overseas. AIATSIS believes that as we approach this anniversary every effort needs to be made to secure return of items of Indigenous cultural heritage to Australia.

The Return of Cultural Heritage Project will initially target the limited provenenced materials removed and held overseas from the period 1770 to 1788, but research will also scope other materials held overseas that were removed in the following 250 years. The project will focus on securing the return of objects to Australian Indigenous communities and/or Australian cultural institutions, as well as developing and documenting protocols, processes and practice.

Returning material to Country for purposes of cultural revitalisation is a key aspiration of Indigenous communities and will strengthen the signal both to the nation and globally that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture is respected, celebrated and valued.

Cooktown 2020 Festival

The Government will provide $5.45 million to support projects for the Cooktown 2020 Festival, including the development of the Reconciliation Rocks Precinct, the Botanic Gardens and upgrades to the Gamaay Dreaming Track to commemorate the anniversary and local Indigenous culture. It will also support the Waymburr Milbi project to house artefacts used for the annual re-enactment of the story of Australia's first act of reconciliation told by the Gugu Yimithirr people on the banks of the Endeavour River.

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