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Travelling to 38 different locations around Australia by sea and open road, Encounters 2020 will bring to life perspectives from the sea and from the shore.
Steve Riethoff outlines the Endeavour voyages that you can be a part of and the accompanying travelling exhibition.

'Encounters around Australia is where we simultaneously set sail and hit the road. From February next year we will have the replica Endeavour undertaking a series of voyages to 38 destinations around Australia. Combined with this there will be a travelling exhibition of First Nations’ art that will form a focus for discussion, and together they will help bring the ‘dual perspectives’ theme to as many Australians as possible.' (Kevin Sumption PSM, Director & CEO)

Interpretive map of Australia
Encounters 2020, Mazart Design Studio, 2019


Encounters around Australia will bring Cook’s 1770 voyage into focus from the dual perspectives of Australia’s Indigenous population and that of the English visitors, with the aim of balancing the story and presenting it to Australians across the nation. From February 2020 until May 2021 the Endeavour replica will sail around our coast, stopping regularly to allow visitors touring the ship to imagine what life had been like for Cook and his crew. At the same time, a land-based travelling exhibition of Indigenous art will meet up with Endeavour at various ports and will represent Cook’s arrival from the perspective of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders. 

Around Australia by Sea: Endeavour Voyages

The 2020–2021 Encounters voyages on the Endeavour replica will provide a rare opportunity to not only have a unique sailing experience, but also to learn sailing skills from a bygone era. It will be the perfect opportunity for experienced sailors and history enthusiasts alike, as well as for those seeking an adventure holiday unlike any other. Crew and supernumeraries will see the Australian coastline from a rare vantage point and experience the challenges of 18th-century sailing. 

The first of Endeavour’s voyages departs Sydney for Geelong on 24 February 2020 and the full program runs for 14 months. Guests can join the crew for legs ranging from one to 25 days and, all up, the ship will berth at 26 different locations and anchor at 12. Adventurers will experience life on the seas, learn from the professional crew, and discover the excitement and demands of life on a tall-ship. They will have the opportunity to learn about Cook’s 1770 voyage and about the various local Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities around the country.

Two men standing at a ship's wheel
Voyage crew at the ship's wheel, dressed in wet-weather gear. Photograph David Knight, 2019

Voyages are open to anyone 18 years and older, and are suitable for both first-time and experienced sailors. On each voyage there are 36 spots available for voyaging crew and four for supernumeraries. Voyaging crew will assist the 16 professionals in running all aspects of the ship (except as captain, of course!), while sleeping in hammocks, learning rope skills, standing watch and working as a team with their new shipmates. The voyages are not a re-enactment, nor historical re-creation, but are an opportunity to show Australians all around our coast just how life was for early European travellers.

For those seeking more comfort, supernumeraries sleep in cabins and do not take part in the daily working of the ship, although they can if they wish.

Crew are split into three groups – known as ‘watches’ – with each based on one of the three masts. Watch members are then allocated the times when they are on duty. Led by a member of the professional crew, each watch operates as a team to enable the smooth working of the ship. Crew will undertake the tasks necessary to operate the ship, day and night. But it won’t be all work – there will be time for rest and recreation.

In port, the replica Endeavour operates in ‘museum mode’, when mod-cons are hidden out of sight and the ship is set up to look as its name-sake did in 1770, and visitors will be able to gain a better understanding of life aboard in the 18th century. Also on display in port while the ship is in ‘museum mode’ will be objects that tell of Indigenous life at the time of Cook’s voyage. 

Being on the crew of Endeavour for Encounters around Australia will be exciting and exhilarating and, by participating, you will also contribute to an important national conversation around the significance of Cook’s visit.

Two people climbing rigging on a ship
Two crew members climbing the rigging on the replica HMB Endeavour. Photograph David Knight, 2019

Around Australia by Land: Travelling Exhibition  Looking Back Looking Forward

This exhibition is specifically designed to showcase some of the museum’s collection of contemporary works by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander artists, who have responded to the symbolism of Cook’s arrival, and of Indigenous encounters with strangers over many years.

Looking Back Looking Forward will also collect responses and stories from local communities, and feed local commentary back into the exhibition, as well as adding these responses to the museum’s collection. 

Kulba Yadail by Billy Missi, ANMM Collection 00049227

Kulba Yadail (Old Lyrics) by Billy Missi, 2006. ANMM Collection 00049227

The exhibition will address the concepts of Culture, Stories, History, Survival, Protest, Present and Future, and will include pieces reflecting Creation stories and over 60,000 years of culture, science and knowledge. There will be works depicting other moments of contact (Macassan, Papua New Guinean, and European) and the voyages before Endeavour, as well as the history of trade with neighbouring peoples.

Looking Back Looking Forward will refer to contemporary issues, including those raised in the Uluru Statement from the Heart, and will include a selection of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander contemporary views on encounters, colonisation and protest. These will introduce visitors to the impact of Endeavour’s arrival from a First People’s perspective, and the varied and pervasive issues and feelings that have been raised by it. 

Housed in a purpose-built, expandable semi-trailer, the Looking Back Looking Forward exhibition will include digital artworks, interactive informative screens and reproductions of pieces from the National Maritime Collection, including protest posters, photographic works and contemporary artworks by Jason Wing, Gail Mabo, Fiona Foley, Gordon Syron and Michael Cook. 

The exhibition will encourage input from those who visit it – in written form, drawings, audio or video recordings. There will be prompted questions relating to the anniversary and the exhibition, and other general comments will be welcomed. Selected responses will form part of the exhibition itself, allowing for new local commentary to be incorporated into the displays. These responses will also be retained by the museum, providing a valuable resource for showcasing Australia in 2020 and forming part of the legacy of the project.

Visit Encounters 2020 to keep up to date with the planned activities.

Map of Australia that shows direction of Encounters 2020 map
The Encounters 2020 touring route with the Endeavour and travelling exhibition. ANMM image


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