Australia in the 1770s

The Great South Land

In April 1770 Lieutenant James Cook (1728–1779) sailed HM Bark Endeavour from New Zealand to Van Diemen's Land. Strong winds blew him off course and the ship's crew saw the east coast of New Holland. Cook turned the boat northwards and began charting the coastline. Along the way, he gave bays, hills and other landmarks British names. The names were chosen from British royalty, politicians and captains he had sailed with or admired. In the case of Botany Bay, he initially named it Stingray Harbour due to the presence of large numbers of stingrays. He later changed it to Botanist's Bay due to the large number of new plants discovered there, but later it would be changed again to Botany Bay by Sir Joseph Banks (1743–1820).

On 29 April Cook landed at Botany Bay. The botanists Joseph Banks and Daniel Solander (1733–1782) collected many new species of plants, animals, insects, birds, fish and molluscs. The Kurnell Peninsula was a regular camping and fishing place for the Gweagal people. Thick ti-tree provided shelter for the people and there were plenty of edible plants as well as the rich resources of the sea.

The Great South Land_1770

A snapshot of 1778

  • January
    • Captain James Cook began his third Pacific expedition in the ships HMS Resolution and HMS Discovery.

  • February
    • France entered the War of American Independence.

  • June
    • Spain declared war on Great Britain.

  • July
    • Louis XIV of France declared war on Great Britain.

  • November
    • Captain James Cook was the first European to sight Maui Island of the Hawaiian Islands.

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