Cook’s legacy

James Cook left his mark on Aus­tralia in more ways than one.

Australian Geographic - - Contents - By Han­nah James

IN THE 248 YEARS SINCE James Cook first sighted land af­ter his cir­cum­nav­i­ga­tion of New Zealand in 1770, new gen­er­a­tions have added lay­ers of in­ter­pre­ta­tion to that event. Once praised as a hero for his brav­ery and supreme nav­i­ga­tion skills, Cook’s colo­nial am­bi­tions are now vil­lainised by some. This is a his­tor­i­cal de­bate that’s liv­ing into the present, with trea­surer Scott Mor­ri­son’s an­nounce­ment ear­lier this year of a $3 mil­lion mon­u­ment to Cap­tain Cook at Botany Bay greeted with out­rage by those who seek to high­light his legacy of vi­o­lence and mur­der. Even Cook’s nam­ing and map­ping of ge­o­graph­i­cal fea­tures, wip­ing out their orig­i­nal Indige­nous names, is also now prob­lem­atic – but for good or ill, this too is now part of Aus­tralia’s his­tory. These are some of the places named by or for the man whose legacy is noth­ing less than mod­ern Aus­tralia, in all its com­plex­ity.


James Cook didn’t for­mally name Bare Island when he landed at Botany Bay, but he did de­scribe it in his jour­nals as a “small bare island” – and the name stuck.

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