January 23, 2021

The news service people turn to for quality information and opinion.

History / 3 June post from Lieutenant James Cook’s Journal 250 years ago

3 min read
Today's post from Lieutenant James Cook's Journal 250 years ago.

Saturday, 3nd June.

Off Cape Hillsborough, Queensland

❝Winds between the South by East and South-East. A Gentle breeze and Clear weather.

In the P.M. we steer’d along shore North-West 1/2 West, at the distance of 2 Leagues from the Main, having 9 and 10 fathoms regular soundings.

At sun set the furthest point of the Main Land that we could distinguish as such bore North 48 degrees West; to the Northward of this lay some high land, which I took to be an Island, the North West point of which bore North 41 degrees West; but as I was not sure that there was a passage this way, we at 8 came to an Anchor in 10 fathoms, muddy bottom. 2 hours after this we had a tide setting to the Northward, and at 2 o’clock it had fallen 9 Feet since the time we Anchored.

After this the Tide began to rise, and the flood came from the Northward, which was from the Islands out at Sea, and plainly indicated that there was no passage to the North-West; but as this did not appear at day light when we got under Sail, and stood away to the North-West until 8, at this time we discover’d low land, quite a Cross what we took for an Opening between the Main and the Islands, which proved to be a Bay about 5 or 6 Leagues deep.

We found the Main land trend away North by West 1/2 West, and a Strait or Passage between it and a Large Island [Whitsunday Island] or Islands laying in a Parrallel direction with the Coast; this passage we Stood into, having the Tide of Ebb in our favour. At Noon we were just within the Entrance, and by observation in the Latitude of 20 degrees 26 minutes South; Cape Hillsborough bore South by East, distant 10 Leagues, and the North point of the Bay before mentioned bore South 19 degrees West, distance 4 Miles.

This point I have named Cape Conway  [General H.S. Conway was Secretary of State 1765 to 1768] (Latitude 20 degrees 30 minutes, Longitude 211 degrees 28 minutes), and the bay, Repulse Bay, which is formed by these 2 Capes.

The greatest and least depth of Water we found in it was 13 and 8 fathoms; every where safe Anchoring, and I believe, was it properly examined, there would be found some good Harbour in it, especially on the North Side within Cape Conway, for just within the Cape lay 2 or 3 Small Islands, which alone would shelter that side of the Bay from the South-East and Southerly winds, which seem to be the prevailing or Trade Winds.

Among the many islands that lay upon this Coast there is one more remarkable than the rest, [Probably Blacksmith Island] being of a Small circuit, very high and peaked, and lies East by South, 10 Miles from Cape Conway at the South end of the Passage above mention’d.❞

From the Journal of botanist Joseph Banks:

❝At day break the anchor was weighd and we stood along shore till we found ourselves in a bay off the outermost point of which were the Islands seen yesterday; by 8 it was resolvd to stand out again through a passage which was seen between them and the main which was accordingly done.

The countrey within the bay, especialy on the innermost side, was well wooded, lookd fertile and pleasant.

After dinner standing among Islands which were very barren, rising high and steep from the sea; on one of these we saw with our glasses 2 men a woman and a small canoe fitted with an outrigger, which made us hope that the people were something improvd as their boat was far preferable to the bark Canoes of Stingrays bay.❞

 Stingrays Bay was later named Botany Bay by Lieut Cook.


Our appreciation to Pam Willis Burden from Douglas Shire Historical Society for sharing this content with us daily.