American marine scientists have discovered the remains of the Endeavour, the fine old ship sailed by Captain James Cook on his voyage of discovery along the eastern seaboard of Australia in 1770.
It lies at the bottom of the harbour at Newport, Rhode Island, where it was scuttled during the American War of Independence long after Cook had died on his third world voyage.
My hope is that the remnants of the Endeavour can be brought Australia and placed in a new Museum which can be built at Cooktown. There, it can become part of an international study centre on the enormous impact it had on life on the Australian continent, changing forever the proud heritage of 65000 years of indigenous habitation.
Sadly, we are now at a time in Australian history where an influential minority are demonising James Cook, accusing him of being the originator of every social and economic problem that Indigenous Australians have faced, and will face, into an uncertain future.
However, I am one who seeks to differ quite passionately, but courteously.
Let us look objectively at what Cook and the Endeavour actually did.
Firstly, he was sent out here on the direct orders of the King of England to find the Great South Land and formally claim it for England. He carried out his instructions to the letter and did it with great skill and determination. Indeed, it was one of the great feats of exploration in world history.
His modern critics say that he made no effort to negotiate with the indigenous people whom he encountered on his voyage before he 'arrogantly' claimed the land for the King.
This is true. He did not negotiate, but he did report to the King that the land was occupied. He made no attempt to claim that this was an empty continent.
But, we now know that there was no Aboriginal nation to negotiate with. There were hundreds of tribes and dialects which would have presented a nigh impossible negotiating situation.
So, let us stop denigrating James Cook or try to claim that the Endeavour had no right to come here. After all, the Dutch and French had turned up around the same time with the same intent. One European nation or another was destined to take the Great South Land.
The facts before us now are these.
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