National Library of Australia

Teachers notes: James Cook’s Endeavour journal

Time, Continuity and Change

A student:

  • describes the significant ideas, people or events that have contributed to Australian identity.
  • examines and explains how people may think differently about the same event or issue, e.g. compares the reasons people voted for the same candidate in an election.

Place and Space

A student:

  • explains how people’s use of natural and built features of places changes over time, e.g. uses photographs and maps of a place to identify changes in land use and suggests reasons for this.
  • explains why various individuals and groups have different views about issues to do with the care of places, e.g. describes the significance of the land to Aboriginal people.


A student:

  • describes how cultural groups, their beliefs, and the way they organise themselves contribute to making the identity of a society.

Investigation, Communication and Participation

A student:

  • recognises the main issues to be researched and the most suitable ways of investigating them.
  • argues a personal point of view by using supportive evidence from research.
  • identifies the causes of conflict and the problems relating to group work and negotiates ways to solve them.

During the course of his first trip, Cook was exposed to an enormous range of new experiences and ideas. He encountered many things — including plans and animals — that Europeans had never seen before. Many people of his time would never get to see them. His growing sense of wonder is reflected in the entries he made in the Endeavour Journal.

View transcripts from the Endeavour journal


  • How does Cook describe his travels and the new environments he is exposed to?
  • What sorts of words does he use?

The east coast of New Holland contained native flora and fauna never before encountered by Europeans. When ashore in July 1770 in what today is Queensland, Lieutenant Gore shot a kangaroo. This was the first time Europeans were able to examine this strange animal close up.

Activity 1

Option 1 — Students work in pairs, sitting back-to-back. One member of each pair is given a picture of an extraordinary animal (either a rarely seen one or a computer generated one). They must then describe the animal to their partner, who must draw a picture of the animal within a set time period. Participants can then switch roles and have a go with a different picture.

Option 2 — If using a group structure, you can have half the group view a picture scene containing the animal. Those members who saw the animal must then go back and describe the animal to the other members of their group. Once the animal has been described to them, the other members then attempt to draw the animal without any help from the people who saw it. Group members can then swap roles.


  • How did the pictures turn out?
  • What were the difficulties presented in trying to convey the appearance of the animal?
  • What are some things we could use to help us (pictures, skins, etc.)?

Activity 2

Choose an entry in Cook’s journal from 11 to 16 June at

  • Read the entry out aloud in a North Country English accent.
  • Discuss Cook’s use of words, their meanings and explain nautical terms and measurements.
  • Rewrite the entry as if it was written today but try not to lose or change the meaning of the text.


  • How difficult was it to transfer 18th century English to 21st century English?


Here are some suggested web links to explore.

Endeavour Project — Australian National University

An extensive archival program containing a range of transcriptions of historical documents. These include maps, astronomical observations, and the journals of Cook, Banks and Hawkesworth.

Endeavour the Voyage

See maps of Cook’s journeys:

Fiddlers Green — Captain Cook’s Cabin Model

See Captain Cook’s cotage.