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thinking outside the tank

Captain Cook in Google Earth: Endeavour River

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Hauled ashore in Endeavour River

Hauled ashore in Endeavour River

Endeavour was badly in need of repair. After feeling their way along the coast in search of a safe harbour, Cook anchored Endeavour, on 14Aug1770, one mile offshore at the entrance to a river where soundings had shown there was a sufficient depth of water.

With shoals nearby and strong onshore winds, they had to wait until the morning of the 17th before they could bring the ship into the river. Even so, they ran aground twice before warping the ship to a place where she could be hauled up on the beach.

Over the next six to seven weeks the ship was repaired to the best of the ability of the carpenter and his men. The armourer set up a forge to make nails and pieces of ironwork. Meanwhile, the crew was sustained by fishing parties in the river and by the discovery of a reef, 12 to 15 miles out at sea, where there were turtles in abundance. By way of vegetables, the crew collected purslanes, beans, cabbage palms, and a type of kale.

Mr. Molineux, the master, explored the shoals in the offing, taking soundings in search of a route out to deep water. Meanwhile, Cook visited the hills to the north and south of the harbour to take a view both of the reefs and the countryside. For some time he struggled with the decision about which way to take the ship. To return to the south, the way they had come, would be hindered by the steady south-easterly winds they would encounter. However, the route to the north was unknown, and did not look promising. If they sailed north they might, eventually, have to return to the south anyway.

As usual Cook tried to communicate with the people he met and of whom he wrote:

Their features were far from disagreeable; their voices were soft and tunable, and they could easily repeat any word after us, but neither us nor Tupia could understand a single word they said.

In addition to the people, Cook described the diverse flora and fauna, including the first kangaroos they had ever seen.


Today, I added this leg of Cook’s exploration of the Australian coast to my Google Earth tour which presents his first voyage round the world. The time spent in Endeavour River spans about seven weeks, so I have divided it into the following sections:

  • Beaching the ship.
  • Repairing the ship.
  • Waiting for wind and tide.
  • Description of Endeavour River.

These sections are held in a folder entitled ‘Endeavour River’, and each section is a separate Google Earth tour.

Copyright © Colin Hazlehurst, 2012

If you would like to follow Cook’s voyage, you will need to install the latest version of Google Earth on your computer; then go to the Captain Cook blog  and click on the links on the right-hand side of the page, under the ‘Google Earth’ heading. After the animation is loaded in Google Earth, you need to expand an entry in the Table of Contents. You will see a ‘Play’ icon which you double-click to start the animation. Don’t forget to enable your speakers to hear the spoken journal.

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