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Cooking the books: how re-enactments of the Endeavour’s voyage perpetuate myths of Australia’s ‘discovery’

Citation

Darian-Smith, K and Schlunke, K, Cooking the books: how re-enactments of the Endeavour's voyage perpetuate myths of Australia's discovery', The Conversation, The Conversation Media Group Ltd, Australia, 29 April (2020) [Magazine Article]


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Abstract

Prime Minister Scott Morrison stumbled on the word "re-enactment" when outlining his government’s (now suspended) plans for commemorating the 250th anniversary of Captain James Cook’s mythologised "discovery" of Australia.

Certainly, the planned route of the replica HMB Endeavour with 39 stops (and funded at A$6.7 million) could not be described as such: Cook never circumnavigated mainland Australia nor visited Tasmania on the Endeavour.

Morrison quickly clarified that the only gesture of historical accuracy would be a "retracing" of Cook’s voyage up the eastern seaboard.

Historical re-enactments of Cook’s landing are not new to settler Australia. They have focused on Cook’s landfall at Botany Bay, south of Sydney, where the Endeavour’s crew first stepped onto the continent on April 29 1770.

His journal recorded they were greeted by two Dharawal men "who seem’d resolved to oppose our landing". Cook fired his musket at the men three times, including aiming directly, forcing their retreat.

Cook’s active role in British hostility to Aboriginal peoples was erased from subsequent performances of the Botany Bay landing.

These have also been embellished with Cook claiming the east coast of Australia — this actually occurred some months later at Possession Island in the Torres Strait.

Such popular "re-enactments" of national "foundation moments" have elements of fantasy, compressing time and history into palatable narratives for mainstream Australia.

Item Details

Item Type:Magazine Article
Research Division:History, Heritage and Archaeology
Research Group:Historical studies
Research Field:Australian history
Objective Division:Culture and Society
Objective Group:Understanding past societies
Objective Field:Understanding Australia's past
UTAS Author:Darian-Smith, K (Professor Kate Darian-Smith)
UTAS Author:Schlunke, K (Associate Professor Katrina Schlunke)
ID Code:141499
Year Published:2020
Deposited By:College Office - CALE
Deposited On:2020-10-26
Last Modified:2020-10-26
Downloads:0

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