Cook reaches Australia
The 19th of April 1770 AD
Having mapped the coastline of New Zealand’s two great islands, Captain James Cook sailed westwards with the intention of reaching Van Diemen’s Land, modern Tasmania. The prevailing winds drove him further northwards, however, and so at about 6 a.m. on April 19 1770 Endeavour approached the eastern coast of the Australian mainland. The first to sight land was Cook’s second-in-command, Lieutenant Hicks, thus Cook honoured him by naming the point first spotted by his junior as Point Hicks.
Western Australia had been visited by the Dutch previously in the early 17th century, and though no record remains of their voyage the Portuguese may have preceded them. In 1688 English explorer William Dampier had been the first Briton to see Western Australia. And of course long before Europeans arrived in the region the Malays, Indians and Chinese had voyaged to the southern continent. But Cook was the first European to visit its eastern shores, and he seems to have realised its potential as a colony early on, claiming the land for Britain – conveniently ignoring the rights of the Aboriginal people he saw from his ship even before making landfall on April 29 1770 in the area he named New South Wales.
internal link Captain Cook Memorial Museum
More famous dates here
4718 views since 9th April 2008
On this day: