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James Cook


Cook takes
possession of
New South Wales



From the official log
of James Cook

(Lieut. Cook's Official Log. H.R.N.S.W., Vol. I, Pt 1, p. 157.)

[NOTE: The island referred to in this Log is Possession Island, which lies off the north coast of Cape York. For a comment, see G. A. Wood: The Discovery of Australia, pp. 440-8.]


Wednesday, August 22nd, 1770
Remarks, &c.
Mod. and clear wea'r; saw a number of smoaks along shore. At 1 lay too for the yawl; pinnace and longboat sounding. ½-p't 2, made sail and steer'd for a passage between some islands and the main. At 3 fired a gun, and made the signell for the boats to sound the next passage to the no'ward of the abovemention'd. ¾-p't 3, was in the passage; dist'ce from the east shore, ¾ of a mile; saw several Indians, who follow'd us shouting. At 4 fired a gun, and made the signell for the boats; came too with the b't bower, in 6¾, fa'm, good ground; veer'd to ½ a cable. Ex't of the land on the east side, N. 56 E, an island to S.W., the main on the west side from N. 8 ºE. to S. 73 ºW., 8 miles; dist'ce from the eastern shore, one mile. The pinnace and yawl, with the capt'n and gentlemen, went on shore to examin the country, and view the coast from one of the hills; soon after saw some turtle. It was high-water when we came too; the tide of ebb set from the S.W., 3 k. 2 f'r. p'r hour. At 6 possession was taken of this country in his Majesty's name and under his coulours; fired several volleys of small arms on the occasion, and cheer'd 3 times, which was answer'd from the ship.


This document is an extract from Select Documents in Australian History 1788-1850 (selected and edited by C.M.H. Clark, first published 1950, pages 25-26)
The Association for the Advancement of Australian Culture