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The Endeavour Journal of James Cook

The Endeavour Journal of James Cook
08/04/2020 Tim Casey




The Endeavour Journal




The Endeavour Journal is significant as the key document foreshadowing British colonisation of Australia.

It has been cited in countless works on Pacific exploration and on first contacts between Europeans and the indigenous peoples of Australia, New Zealand and the Pacific.

The journal, written between 1768 and 1771, records one of the first English voyages to the Pacific and one of the first in which exploration and scientific discovery, rather than military conquest and plunder, was the expedition’s primary purpose.

It is significant for its recording of the exploration of Tahiti and the Society Islands, the first circumnavigation and detailed charting of New Zealand, and the first charting of the eastern coast of Australia.

The Journal is also significant as one of the few substantial manuscripts in the hand of one of the world’s greatest navigators and maritime explorers, James Cook. It is of high significance in the history of British colonisation of Australia and as one of the earliest written records of the indigenous peoples of Polynesia, New Zealand and eastern Australia. It is unique and irreplaceable, as no other journal of this voyage is in Cook’s handwriting.

James Cook: James Cook was born in 1728 in Yorkshire. Apprenticed to a coal shipper in Whitby he began to learn the skills of sound navigation and accurate charting. In 1755 he joined the Royal Navy and steadily advanced.

In North America he took part in the siege of Quebec City, and began coastal surveys of Nova Scotia and Newfoundland. In 1768 Cook was promoted to become commander of Endeavour Bark sent to Tahiti to observe the transit of Venus. The Admiralty in ‘secret instructions’ asked Cook to find the mythical southern continent.

In 1769 Cook circumnavigated New Zealand, charted its coast and took formal possession for England. On 19 April 1770 Cook sighted another coastline. Sailing north Cook landed at Botany Bay. And charted 5000 miles of coastline with great accuracy.

Cook took formal possession of New South Wales for England. In 1772 Cook led a second expedition to confirm the great south land. In 1777, Cook’s third voyage explored the Pacific coasts of North America and Siberia. Cook was killed on 14 February 1779 in the Sandwich Islands (Hawaii).

Inscribed on the International Memory of the World Register in 2001. The Memory of the World International Register lists documentary heritage which has been identified by the International Advisory Committee in its meetings in Tashkent (September 1997), in Vienna (June 1999), in Cheongju City (June 2001), in Gdansk (August 2003), in Lijiang (June 2005), and in Pretoria (June 2007) and endorsed by the Director-General of UNESCO as corresponding to the selection criteria for world significance.

It is currently located at the National Library of Australia and can view via:



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