The original Captain…

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

When I first looked into the idea of kayaking along the Queensland coastline I always had in the back of my mind the historical significance of such a voyage.

It was over 240 years ago that Lieutenant James Cook, aged 42 years, first sighted the eastern coast of New Holland (Australia) onboard the HMB Endeavour. His first landing was at Botany Bay in New South Wales. Onboard he was carrying the botanist Joseph Banks who was there to document their findings both on land and in the oceans.

Captain James Cook Sir Joseph Banks

Both of them kept comprehensive diaries and as I venture up the coastline I’ll be introducing some of their work to you to illustrate how courageous, pioneering and interesting their adventure must have been. I may not be the first person to venture up this section of coastline, but it’s my first time and that’s just as challenging – Captain Cook had 20 years sailing experience…I have two!

Cook was recognised as one of the finest navigators in the world. He was the first to chart the waters of the southern oceans and in May 1770, his arrival into the southern part of the Great Barrier Reef heralded the start of a three week navigation and nautical examination.

Navigation tools C1770 Jay and the GPS

Today it’s easy enough to turn the chart plotter on and find out exactly where I am in the world, GPS technology means that you don’t have to even think for yourself anymore. It was very, very different in Cook’s day when all he was equipped with was a telescope, sextant, lead-line and nerves of steel!

Below is a section of the map that Cook produced as he sailed up the coastline…compare that to the screen-shot from my Yellowbrick tracker and you’ll see quite how accurate he was. Amazing.

Captain Cook's route from 1770 to Keppel Island

Best Exped Map - Yellowbrick Tracking

There’s loads of places along the coast that Cook named as he passed them. Today we passed the Tropic of Capricorn (which sits at 22 degrees latitude) and the headland Cook named….not very orginally though…it’s called Cape Capricorn!!

Other places in the area include:

Town of 1770

The town of Seventeen Seventy (1770) is so named because on 24 May in that year, Lieutenant James Cook, captain of His Majesty’s barque Endeavour, came ashore and landed on the beach of Round Hill Creek in the vicinity of the present village. This area has been entered onto the Queensland Heritage Register due to high significance.

It should be noted that Aboriginal people of the area have, within their oral tradition, stories of witnessing the landing of Lieutenant Cook, Banks and others from the crew of the Endeavour.

Bustard Head Lighthouse

Located approximately 50km south of Gladstone, this iconic structure was erected in 1868 and was the first lighthouse constructed by the Queensland Colonial Government after separating from New South Wales in 1859. The lighthouse it is still in use today, although it is now automated.

Today we’ll make it to the Keppel Group, a stunning set of islands off the Yeppoon coast and will meet up with some old friends on Great Keppel Island hopefully!

Yours expeditionally

Ben 🙂