One of the achievements awarded to Cook, was his discovery of Australia. Yet historical sources provide evidence that refute the claim. How can you 'discover' somewhere that already has people living on it? Why is Cook still remembered for this 'achievement'?
Key inquiry question:
Did James Cook 'discover' Australia?
Students use prior knowledge gained from previous inquires and primary sources to question the discovery of Australia. Students recall encounters with the Australian coast before Endeavour and investigate the reasons why people chose to remember Cook in this way.
Use the zoom function on the Google Arts and Culture page to observe the Staffordshire Pottery of Captain James Cook 1845
- Conduct a 'see think wonder' routine to describe the pottery and make inferences to the way people valued Cook at the time.
- Read about the history and significance of the pottery to extract information on the way Cook was perceived after completing his three voyages of exploration between 1768 and 1779. Cook was eventually killed on his third and final voyage in Hawaii by Hawaiians.
- Examine the photograph Statue of Captain Cook in Hyde Park, Sydney. The back inscription reads 'Discovered This Territory 1770'. Make observations about the statue and Hyde Park as it was in c1880. Read about the monument’s significance and history. Extract information from the sources to explain the motivations of the people at the time.
- View the statue as it stands in Hyde Park today. From your observations, identify the physical changes that have taken place in Sydney now and then. Make inferences as to the views and attitudes of people on Cook now and then.
Compare the way we investigate past events to those from the past. Identify developments in technology and skills that provide modern historians with a more balanced and critical view of history.
Send a letter back in time dismissing the claim that Cook 'discovered' Australia. Explain the historical process you underwent in gathering and evaluating the evidence taken from primary and secondary sources and the conclusions you were able to make.
Main image: Captain James Cook figurine, Staffordshire Pottery, c1845, ANMM Collection 00032993