Endeavour’s Site at Cooktown, Queensland


I began my journey to Australia with a visit to the replica of James Cook’s ship Endeavour in Sydney. I’m ending this part of my trip with a visit to where Cook beached the HMB Endeavour for repairs at what is now Cooktown in far north Queensland. This is where Cook spent the most time in Australia, though not by intention.

In 1770 Cook was sailing north along the Queensland coast, after visiting Tahiti the year before to see the transit of Venus. He inadvertently discovered the Great Barrier Reef. Endeavour ran aground on what is now called Endeavour Reef. The crew was able to repair the ship well enough and save themselves by getting Endeavour to this harbour at what is now Cooktown where the Cook River meets the Coral Sea. There, with the ship beached, they were able to effect more permanent repairs to its damaged hull.

The site is just below this viewpoint at an idyllic harbour. They stayed there for two months in July and August 1770, effecting repairs and sighting, among other curiosities, kangaroos for the first time.

I visited Cooktown yesterday as part of a 4WD trek up the Bloomfield Track north of Cape Tribulation and through the Daintree Rain Forest. At Cooktown its museum, converted from an old convent, contains the original main anchor and one of the large canons from Endeavour, recovered from where the crew tossed them overboard to lighten the ship’s load and gain draft to sail off the reef. They are some of the few pieces of Endeavour that still remain.

– Alan, November 17, 2012 / © 2012 Alan Dyer

Endeavour in Dock


Its modern day namesake ship, the Space Shuttle Endeavour, made the news of late, on its last voyage to its museum home. But this is the Endeavour that the Shuttle is named for and a ship that also made scientific history.

This is the modern but authentically crafted replica of HMB Endeavour, the ship Lt. James Cook commanded on his first round the world expedition. The principle goal was to observe the June 1769 transit of Venus from Tahiti. But Cook sailed on to map the then unknown coastline of New Zealand and the east coast of New Holland, now Australia. It was an astronomical expedition that changed the world.

The replica Endeavour just completed a circumnavigation of Australia, something the original ship never did, and now is moored at the National Maritime Museum in Darling Harbour, Sydney. I visited it October 30 as part of my homage to Cook and my own astronomical expedition to see the total eclipse of the Sun. In a couple of weeks I’ll be in Cooktown near the top end of Queensland where, in 1770, the original Endeavour ran aground on the Barrier Reef. An anchor from the original ship is still there.

– Alan, November 1, 2012 / © 2012 Alan Dyer