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Cook's Landing - Fast Facts

It is little known that when the Endeavour struck the reef, 23 hours passed before she was floated off, everyone on board took their turn at manning the pumps, falling down exhausted before another took his place. What else happened to the crew in Cooktown.......
Cook's Landing - Fast Facts

Endeavour Replica

This was a very desperate time for Endeavour’s men as most of them couldn’t swim and they would surely drown if she sank.

They had to keep her afloat and that they did, finally warping her into the harbour 5 days later after fothering the ship by pulling a sail under her bottom so that she wouldn’t sink.

While here Cook and his were involved in many tasks such as gathering fresh supplies, Mr Banks and his team of Naturalists were busy exploring and Cook organised the crew to carry out repairs to the ship.

The Guugu Yimithirr were very upset with these visitors who refused to share their turtle with them.


HMB Endeavour landed fourteen times on the East Australian Coastline.

One landing was in what is now New South Wales waters at Botany Bay.

Thirteen  landings were in what are now Queensland waters.

The fourteenth landing was on Booby Island, west of Thursday Island.

In addition to the fourteen landing places, Cook also named 92 other landmarks on the East Coast, making a total of 106

places named by Cook. Many of these places are still in use today and would be familiar to the reader.

It is significant to mention that Cook did not name any landmarks for himself. 

Sunday 29th April 1770:

Captain Cook and his crew arrived at Botany Bay.

They didn’t set up a land based camp and remained on board their ship.

They fished, explored, found water and botanised.

The indigenous people didn’t want to interact with them despite Cook’s trying to make contact with them on several occasions.

Endeavour departed on May 6th seven days after her arrival.

May 23rd 1770 - anchored at Bustard Bay, named for the wild bustard bird they shot and ate.  They stayed one night on the ship.

May 29th 1770 ....   anchored at Thirsty Sound [Town of 1770] and spent one night on the ship and landed searching for water but none found. Banks was enthused with all the botany and much impressed by the butterflies.

June 8th 1770 .... Banks and Hickes went ashore at  Cleveland Bay [near Magnetic Island] looking for coconuts but found the trees were only cabbage palms.

June 10th 1770 ... Cook named Green Island, which he saw in the distance while anchored in a bay north of  Cape Grafton which forms part of the mainland south of Cairns where he landed briefly. He describes a large but not very deep bay which he names Trinity Bay, after the day on which it was discovered.

June 10th 1770 ... On a clear moonlit night, the Endeavour suddenly struck the Great Barrier Reef. ...Cook names Cape Tribulation and writes in his journal ... because here begun all our troubles.

The Endeavour was severely damaged and it would be a traumatic 23 hours before they were able to haul the ship off the reef on a high tide.

After heaving her off the reef and fothering the ship by hauling a sail covered with oakum, dung and sheep’s wool under her belly, the water was finally slowed and the leak became manageable with only one pump. It was to be one more week before they found a safe harbour to repair the Endeavour.

June 17th 1770


Cook spent seven weeks here in 1770, the longest land base during Cook’s East Coast expedition.

The major task was to repair the Endeavour but Banks and his team of botanists spent their whole time exploring and discovering many botanical and natural history wonders which were totally new to science at the time.

Banks and Solander found a large portion of Endeavour’s East Coast botanical collection while here.

They discovered many new species of insects, fish, bugs and butterflies.

They saw, for the first time in this country, a crocodile, dingo, flying fox, and many species of lizards, snakes, fish and insects.

The crew fished and collected giant clams and turtle for food. They found green vegetables and yams to supplement their diet.


The mysterious animal [kangaroo] was clearly sighted, shot by Lt Gore and eaten by the officers and gentlemen. It was sketched by Sydney Parkinson, named and closely examined by Banks and his botanical team.


When the Guugu Yimithirr people from north of the harbour finally decided to make contact with Endeavour’s crew, the name of the mysterious beast was found to be ganguuru which was interpreted as kangaroo.

130 words and phrases of the Guugu Yimithirr language, including the names of nine individuals, were recorded by Parkinson in his Journal which would surely have to be the first written record of an Indigenous language in this country during the first meaningful contact between Indigenous people and Europeans.


Six meetings between Endeavour’s crew and the Guugu Yimithirr took place with one visit ending in an altercation after Cook refused to share the turtles found on the Endeavour, with the local inhabitants.

They were chased away after twice setting fire to Cook’s camp, burning all around the camp and killing a suckling pig.

Cook wounded one man with musket shot and followed the group until he caught up with them on a rocky bar near the end of Furneaux Street, now known as Reconciliation Rocks.


After making signs of peace, Cook, who was also accompanied by Joseph Banks and three or four other persons, returned some spears to the elders of the group who then sat down together.

Cook wrote in his journal ... we now return’d the darts we had taken from them which reconciled every thing.

Parkinson wrote in his journal ... Several of them came to us afterwards and made peace with us.


After Endeavour crossed the bar at the mouth of the river on August 5th she still had to stand off outside the harbour due to strong wind and gales, finally departing, sounding all the way, on August 10th 1770.

Endeavour River was the Endeavour’s sixth East Coast landing and there were to be another seven landings before she finally left these waters for a refit in Batavia.

These other landing places were Point Lookout, Lizard Island, Eagle Island, Turtle Group, landed on the reef about Providential Channel, and finally Possession Island, where Cook took possession of the east coast of this country  in the name of  King George the Third.

There was one more landing at Booby Island in the Torres Strait.