National Library of Australia

James Cook’s Endeavour journal

James Cook (1728–1779)Journal of the Endeavour 1768–1771

manuscript; 52.5 x 34.0cm

Manuscript Collection, MS 1

National Library of Australia
Journal of the Endeavour 1768–1771

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The Endeavour journal of James Cook (1728–1779), founding treasure of the National Library, is Cook’s personal account of the voyage of HMB Endeavour (1768–1771). Officially, Cook was to observe the transit of Venus. Unofficially, he was under secret orders to search for the great south land and claim it for Britain.

By voyage end, the coastlines of New Zealand and eastern Australia had been charted, and the tally of the world’s known plant species increased by 10 percent. Although Cook was an unskilled writer, he recorded his experiences and thoughts, including the details of a series of momentous events, such as the near disastrous foundering of the Endeavour on the Great Barrier Reef in 1770.

He also gave one of the first accounts of European contact with Aboriginal Australians. (Lord Morton, President of the Royal Society, had advised Cook by letter to treat with respect the Indigenous people he encountered and to communicate peacefully with them.)

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