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250 years since Cook arrived

by Kim Odgers


April 22nd, marks the 250th anniversary of Lieutenant James Cook’s naming of Batemans Bay as the HMS Endeavour sailed north along our coastline on Cook’s first voyage of discovery to the Australian eastern coastline in 1770.


250 years ago, this month, Lieutenant James Cook’s Endeavour swept west into the 40th Parallel from New Zealand on his first voyage of discovery to the southern hemisphere.

He could not have foreseen the new nation that would eventually result from the exploration that lay ahead.


It was the ship’s lookout, Zachary Hicks, who had the honour of first sighting land on our eastern coastline. The headland was appropriately named Point Hicks.


Three days later, on 22 April 1770, Cook observed and named Batemans Bay.


So, the 22nd of April marks the 250th anniversary of the naming of our town by the world’s greatest navigator of the time, perhaps all time. This important anniversary of our naming should be an occasion of some importance for Batemans Bay. An occasion for an ‘all of town’ celebration similar to other Australian eastern coastline towns, also named by Cook, who are well advanced in their planning and funding arrangements. These other towns have secured Government offered funding with community groups combining and cooperating for the occasion. Local Councils are providing organisation and logistic support.

Three years ago I offered the then Batemans Bay Business and Tourism Chamber my assistance to initiate a program of planning and funding. The Anzac Day holiday, just 3 days later, would allow for a 3 or 4-day range of events that should add to the tourism interest at that time. Incredibly, a 250th celebration of the naming of our town by Cook was not considered a strong enough priority. James Cook did not record his reasons for using the name ‘Bateman’, but almost certainly he wished to honour Nathaniel Bateman (an early mentor). Cook had previously served as ship Master under Nathaniel Bateman, producing charts of the St Lawrence River and the Canadian coastline.


Nathaniel Bateman was an extraordinary man who led an extraordinary life. ***********************************************

Our local The Clyde River and Batemans Bay Historical Society has honoured the date by hosting the exhibition, 'Cook and the Pacific', presented by the National Library of Australia, Canberra. They had three major public events planned for April/May, with distinguished speakers, all of which have had to be cancelled  . Follow this LINK to a recount the full story of his voyage, including the scientific, navigational and artistic advances made by him and his extremely capable team.


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VIDEO: 250 years ago this month, James Cook first sighted the Australian continent, and claimed it as British territory. But few of us have ever heard the story of this moment as remembered by the first inhabitants of this land.

The Yuin people of the NSW far south coast saw the Endeavour pass by offshore and knew that it was a sign of something not right. They lit smoke signals to warn people further up the coast.

Djiringanj Yuin knowledge-holder Warren Ngarrae Foster was passed down the story of what his ancestors saw when the Endeavour sailed past Yuin Country, and shares it with great generosity.

Credit ABC South East NSW


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To learn more about the experiences of those on the Endeavour visit the National Museum Australia website nma.gov.au/endeavour-voyage

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