Cook’s Aus­tralia claim

The Week - - Letters -

To The Guardian

Afua Hirsch is sim­ply wrong when she says it is “lu­di­crous” to claim that Cap­tain Cook dis­cov­ered Aus­tralia. The first peo­ple to set­tle Aus­tralia fifty-odd­t­hou­sand years ago did an amaz­ing thing in found­ing a vi­brant, com­plex and suc­cess­ful hu­man so­ci­ety in one of the harsh­est en­vi­ron­ments on Earth. But, un­til Cook and other Euro­pean ex­plor­ers ar­rived on the scene, no­body out­side Aus­tralia knew that it was there.

If you want the credit for dis­cov­er­ing some­thing, it’s not enough just to find it – you have to tell other peo­ple about it, so that what you’ve found has a chance

of be­com­ing widely known. Cap­tain Cook lit­er­ally put Aus­tralia on the map, so he rightly gets the credit for mak­ing Aus­tralia known to the rest of the world. Whether, given all that has fol­lowed, this was a good idea is an­other ques­tion en­tirely. Richard El­lam, Bris­tol

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