Friday 22 August 2014

Captain Cook Lands on Possession Island

We have met Captain James Cook on a couple of occasions in the past, sharing the landing at Botany Bay and witnessing his murder after a disastrous foray into Hawaii's Kealakekua Bay. Today marks another anniversary for Cook, that of the discovery of Possession Island off the coast of Queensland, Australia.

Captain James Cook by Nathaniel Dance-Holland, 1776
Captain James Cook by Nathaniel Dance-Holland, 1776

Following his discovery of Botany Bay, Cook sailed on and eventually discovered a group of islands in the Torres Straits. These islands were home to the Kaurareg people and Cook eventually made landfall on an island that its inhabitants knew as Bedanug or Bedhan Lag. 

However, the Captain came ashore and raised the flag as the sunset on 22nd August, 1770, claiming the eastern coast for Britain in the name of King George III and declaring it as New South Wales.

More than two centuries later, the Kaurareg people were successful in their petition to have the native title rights of Possession Island and its neighbours returned to them in perpetuity. Today the island is celebrated for its rich flora and fauna and Cook's landing is marked by a monument on the spot where he once raised his flag and claimed the land for the king.

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