james cook :
the endeavour, 1770
Cook : Voyage of HM Bark Endeavour, 1770. Extracts from
James Cook's Journal of Remarkable Occurrences aboard His
Majesty's Bark Endeavour,
1768-1771. Daily entries and Descriptions. The Endeavour
Journal of Joseph Banks, 1768-1771 Daily entries and
Descriptions Sydney Parkinson's Journal
of a Voyage to the South Seas, in His Majesty's Ship, The Endeavour,
London, 1773. Daily entries and Descriptions and John Hawkesworth's Account
of the Voyages...in the Southern Hemisphere,
South Seas Voyaging
Additional accounts from Parkin, Ray: H. M. Bark Endeavour: Her Place
in Australian History. Miegunyah
Press, first edition 1997
(two volumes), second edition 2003 (one volume)
Cook's and Banks' Journals are largely or often in note form,
with variations in spelling and punctuation, and, in the case
of Cook, many corrections.
These have been (mostly) standardised in this transcription.
Note that Cook's Journal is in standard Navy time, the day
calculated from noon to noon, and those of Banks and Parkinson, in civil time, are 12 hours behind.
Saturday, 28 April 1770
Cook: [Off Wollongong]
In the PM hoisted out the Pinnace and yawl in order to
attempt a landing but the Pinnace took in the water so fast
that she was obliged to be hoisted in again to stop her
At this time we saw several people a shore four of whome
where carrying a small boat or Canoe which we imagined they
were going to but into the water in order to come off to us
but in this we were mistaken.
Being now not above two miles from the shore Mr Banks, Dr
Solander, Tupia, and myself put off in the yawl and pulled
in for the land to a place where we saw four or five of the
natives who took to the woods as we approachd the shore
which disapointed us in our expectation we had of getting a
near view of them if not to speak to them but our
disappointment was heightened when we found that we no where
could effect a landing by reason of the great surf which
beat every where upon the shore.
Wwe saw hauled up upon the beach 3 or 4 small Canoes which
to us appeared not much unlike the small ones of New Zeland,
in the woods were several trees of the Palm kind and no
under wood and this was all we were able to observe of the
country from the boat after which we returnd to the Ship
about 5 in the evening.
At day light in the morning we discover'd a Bay which
appeard to be tollerably well shelterd from all winds into
which I resolved to go with the Ship and with this view sent
the Master in the Pinnace to sound the entrance while we
kept turning up with the Ship having the wind right out.
At Noon the entrance bore NNW distance 1 Mile —
Banks: The land this morn appeared
cliffy and barren without wood.
An opening appearing like a harbour was seen and we stood
directly in for it.
A small smoke arising from a very barren place directed our
glasses that way and we soon saw about 10 people, who on our
approach left the fire and retired to a little eminence
where they could conveniently see the ship; soon after this
two canoes carrying 2 men each landed on the beach under
them, the men hauled up their boats and went to their
fellows upon the hill.
Our boat which had been sent ahead to sound now approached
the place and they all retied higher up on the hill; we saw
however that at the beach or landing place one man at least
was hid among some rocks who never that we could see left
Our boat proceeded along shore and the Indians followed her
at a distance.
When she came back the officer who was in her told me that
in a cove a little within the harbour they came down to the
beach and invited our people to land by many signs and words
which he did not at all understand; all however were armed
with long pikes and a wooden weapon made something like a
By noon we were within the mouth of the inlet which appeared
to be very good.
Under the South head of it were four small canoes; in each
of these was one man who held in his hand a long pole with
which he struck fish, venturing with his little embarkation
almost into the surf.
These people seemed to be totally engaged in what they were
about: the ship passed within a quarter of a mile of them
and yet they scarce lifted their eyes from their employment;
I was almost inclined to think that attentive to their
business and deafned by the noise of the surf they neither
saw nor heard her go past them.
At 1.00 we came to an anchor abreast of a small village
consisting of about 6 or 8 houses.
Soon after this an old woman followed by three children came
out of the wood; she carried several pieces of stick etc.
the children also had their little burthens; when she came
to the houses 3 more younger children came out of one of
them to meet her.
She often looked at the ship but expressed neither surprise
Soon after this she lighted a fire and the four canoes came
in from fishing; the people landed, hauled up their boats
and began to dress their dinner to all appearance totally
unmoved at us, though we were within a little more than a
mile of them.
Of all these people we had seen so distinctly through our
glasses we had not been able to observe the least signs of
clothing: myself to the best of my judgement plainly
discerned that the woman did not copy our mother Eve even in
the fig leaf. ... Upon
examining the lances we had taken from them we found that
the very most of them had been used in striking fish, at
least we concluded so from sea weed which was found stuck in
among the four prongs. - Having taken the resolution before
mentioned we returned to the ship in order to get rid of our
load of lances, and having done that went to that place at
the mouth of the harbour where we had seen the people in the
morn; here however we found nobody.
At night many moving lights were seen in different parts of
the bay such as we had been used to see at the Islands; from
hence we supposed that the people here strike fish in the
Pakinson: On the 27th, in
the morning, the wind being against us, we stood off
and on shore.
At noon, being about one mile from land, some of our
men were sent on shore in a boat, which soon returned,
not being able to land for the surf, which which ran
very high all along the coast.
They espied three men, sitting on the beach, who were
naked, and of a very dark colour; but, on the boat’s
approaching nearer toward them, they fled into the
Our people also discovered several canoes drawn upon
the beach, and a kind of house or wig-warn adjacent.
We also, from the ship, saw five men walking, two of
whom carried a canoe on their shoulders.
The country looked very pleasant and fertile; and the
trees, quite free from underwood, appeared like
plantations in a gentleman’s park.
[28 April 1770] Their canoes were made of one
piece of bark, gathered at the two ends, and extended in the
middle by two sticks.
Their paddles were very small, two of which they used at one
time; and we found a large lump of yellow gum in their gigs
which seemed to be for striking fish. Some of their weapons had a
kind of chisel fixed at their ends, but of what
substance they were formed we could not learn.
Sunday, 29 April 1770
Botany Bay Cook: We found here a few Small huts
made of the bark of trees in one of which were four or five
small children with whom we left some strings of beads and a
quantity of darts lay about the huts, these we took away
Three Canoes lay upon the beach the worst I think I ever
saw, they were about 10 12 or 14 feet long made of one peice
of the bark of a tree drawn or tied up at each end and the
middle kept open by means of peices of sticks by way of
thwarts. ... After breakfast we sent some
empty casks a shore and a party of men to cut wood and I
went my self in the Pinnace to sound and explore the Bay -
in the doing of which I saw several of the natives but they
all fled at my approach.
I landed in two places one of which the people had but just
left as there were small fires and fresh muscles broiling
upon them - here likewise lay vast heaps of the largest
oyster shells I ever saw. Banks: The
fires (fishing fires as we supposed) were seen during the
greatest part of the night.
In the morn we went ashore at the houses, but found not the
least good effect from our present yesterday: No signs of
people were to be seen; in the house in which the children
were yesterday was left every individual thing which we had
thrown to them; Dr Solander and myself went a little way
into the woods and found many plants, but saw nothing like
At noon all hands came on board to dinner.
The Indians, about 12 in number, as soon as they saw our
boat put off Came down to the houses.
Close by these was our watering place at which stood our
cask: they looked at them but did not touch them, their
business was merely to take away two of four boats which
they had left at the houses; this they did, and hauled the
other two above high water mark, and then went away as they
came. Monday, 30
April 1770 Cook: Monday, 30th As soon as the
wooders and waterers were come on board to dinner 10 or 12
of the natives came to the watering place and took away
their canoes that lay there but did not offer to touch any
one of our Casks that had been left ashore.
And in the afternoon 16 or 18 of them came boldly up to
within 100 yards of our people at the watering place and
there made a stand - Mr Hicks who was the officer ashore did
all in his power to entice them to him by offering them
presents etc. but it was to no purpose, all they seemed to
want was for us to be gone - after staying a short time they
They were all armed with darts and wooden swords, the darts
have each four prongs and pointed with fish bones and those
we have seen seem to be intend more for strikeing fish than
offensive weapons neither are they poisoned as we at first
thought. Tuesday, 1 May 1770 Cook:
I saw some trees that had been cut down by the natives with
some sort of a blunt instrument and several trees that were
barked the bark of which had been cut by the same
Instrument, in many of the trees, especially the palms, were
cut steps about 3 or 4 feet asunder for the conveniency of
climbing them. Thursday, 3 May 1770 Cook: Connections with the natives: in
our way thither we met with 10 or 12 of them fishing each in
a small canoe who retired in to shoal water upon our
approach, others again we saw at the first place we landed
at who took to their canoes and fled before we came near
them: ... After we had sufficiently
examined this part we returned to the boat and seeing some
smoke and canoes at a nothern part we went there in hopes of
meeting with the people, but they made off as we approached.
There were six canoes and six small fires near the shore and
muscles roasting upon them and a few oysters laying near,
from this we conjectured that there had been just six people
who had been out each in his canoe picking up muscles &
oysters and the shell fish and come a shore to eat them
where each had made his fire to dress them by.
We tasted of their cheer and left them in return strings of
beads etc.near to this place.
At the foot of a tree was a small well or spring of [check
MS] water. Banks: During
the time this was doing [drying specimens in the sun]
11 Canoes, in each of which was one Indian, came towards us.
We soon saw that the people in
them were employed in striking fish; they came within about
a mile of us intent on their own employments and not at all
regarding us. Opposite the place where they
were several of our people were shooting; one Indian may be
prompted by curiosity landed, hauled up his canoe and went
towards them; he stayed about a quarter of an hour and then
launched his boat and went off, probably that time had been
spent in watching behind trees to see what our people did. ... The Captain and Dr Solander
employed the day in going in the pinnace into various parts
of the harbour.
They saw fires at several places and people who all ran away
at their approach with the greatest precipitation, leaving
behind the shell fish which they were cooking; of this our
gentlemen took the advantage, eating what they found and
leaving beads ribbons etc. in return. Friday, 4 May 1770 Cook: Winds Northerly, serene weather.
Upon my return to the Ship in the evening I found that none
of the natives had appeared near the watering place but
about 20 canoes of them had been fishing in their canoes at
no great distance from us.
In the AM as the wind would not permit us to sail I sent out
some parties into the country to try to form some
connections with the natives.
One of the Midshipmen met with a very old man and woman and
two small Children- they were close to the water side
where several more were in their canoes gathering shell
fish. Banks: He (a very old man) stayed
however with them but a very short time, for seeing many
canoes fishing at a small distance he feared that the people
in them might observe him and come ashore to the assistance
of the old people, who in all probability belonged to them.
17 Canoes came fishing near our
people in the same manner as yesterday only stayed rather
longer, emboldened a little I suppose by having yesterday
met with no kind of molestation. ... While we were employed in this
walk the people hauled the seine [net] upon a sandy beach
and caught great plenty of small fish. On our return to the
ship we found also that our 2nd lieutenant who had gone out
striking had met with great success: he had observed that
the large sting rays of which there are abundance in the bay
followed the flowing tide into very shallow water; he
therefore took the opportunity of flood and struck several
in not more than 2 or 3 feet water; one that was larger than
the rest weighed when his guts were taken out 239 pounds. Saturday, 5
May 1770 Cook:
In the PM I went with a party of men over to the North shore
and, while some hands were hauling the seine, a party of us
made an excursion of 3 or 4 miles into the country or rather
along the sea coast.
We met with nothing remarkable.
A great part of the country for some distance in land from
the sea coast is mostly a barren heath diversified with
marshes and morasses.
Upon our return to the Boat we found they had caught a great
number of small fish which the sailors call Leather Jackets
on account of their having a very thick skin, they are
known in the West Indies.
I had sent the yawl in the morning to fish for sting rays
who returned in the evening with upwards of 4 hundred weight
- one single one weighed 240 Ib exclusive of the entrails. Banks: The 2nd Lieutenant went out
striking and took several large Stingrays the biggest of
which weighed without his guts 336 pounds. Pickersgill: This was all we saw of them
except when they were fishing off their in their
canoes, which are very small and made of bark; they carry
one man who paddles
with two small pieces of wood; they use them in striking
fish on ye
on Sting Ray Bay, New Holland.
During our stay here we saw parties of Indians- but
come near enough to make
any kind of- with them but
they always made signals for us to be gone.
They go quite naked not having the
least thing to cover their nakedness.
They are very black and live entirely on fish.
Their canoes are only bark of a tree
stopt at each end and so light that one man may carry them.
We saw no kind of
boat although the Captain went some distance into the
Sunday, 6 May 1770 Cook:
On the sand and mud banks are oysters, muscles, cockles etc.
which I believe are the chief support of the inhabitants who
go into shoal water with their little canoes and pick them
out of the sand and mud with their hands and sometimes roast
and eat them in the Canoe, having often a fire for that
purpose as I suppose for I know no other it can be for. ... Although I have said that shell
fish is their chief support yet they catch other sorts of
fish, some of which we found roasting on the fire the first
time we landed, some of these they strike with gigs and
others they catch with hook and line.
We have seen them strike fish with gigs & hooks and
lines were found in their huts.
Sting rays I believe they do not eat because I never saw the
least remains of one near any of their huts or fire places,
neither were any of their darts or offensive weapons armed
with the stings of sting rays, the use I think they would
applyed them to did they make use of the fish. Banks: We dined to day upon the
sting-ray and his tripe: the fish itself was not quite so
good as a skate nor was it much inferior, the tripe every
body thought excellent. We had with it a dish of the
leaves of tetragonia
cornuta boiled, which eat as well as spinach or
very near it.
Tuesday, 10 July 1770 Cook:
In the am, 4 of the natives came down to the sandy spit
on the north side of the
harbour having along with them a small wooden Canoe with
outriggers in which
they seemed to be employed in striking fish &ca.
Some were for
going over in a boat to them but this I would not suffer
but let them alone
without seeming to take any notice of them, at length
two came in the Canoe so
near the Ship as to take some things we throwed them,
after this they went away
and brought over the other two and came again along side
nearer than they had
done before and took such trifles as we gave them.
am: Four Indians appeared on
shore; they had with them a canoe made of wood with an
outrigger in which two
of them embarked and came towards the ship but stopped
at a distance of a long
Musquest shot, talking much and very loud to us. We
hollowed to them and waving
made them all the signs we could to come nearer; by
degrees they ventured
almost insensibly nearer and nearer untill they were,
quite alongside, often
holding their lances as if to shew us that if we used
them ill they had weapons
and would return our attack.
Cloth, Nails, Paper &c &c. was given to
them all which they took and put into the canoe without
shewing the least signs
of satisfaction: at last a small fish was by accident
thrown to them on which
they expressed the greatest joy imaginable, and
instantly putting offfrom
the ship made signs that they should bring over their
comrades, which they very
soon did and all four landed near us, each carrying in
his hand 2 Lances and his stick to throw them with.
Tupia went towards them; they
stood all in a row in the attitude of throwing their
lances; he made them signs
that they should lay them down and come forward without
them; this they
immediately did and sat down with him on the ground.
We then came up to them
and made them presents of Beads, Cloth &c. which
they took and soon became
very easy, only jealous if any one attempted to go
between them and their arms.
At dinner time we made signs to them to come with us and
eat but they refused;
we left them and they going into their canoe paddled
back to where they came
Wednesday, 11 July
1770 Cook: In the
morning four of the natives made us another short visit,
3 of them had been
with us the preceeding day and the other was a stranger.
One of these men had a
hole through the Bridge [septum?] of his nose in which
he stuck a piece of bone
as thick as my finger, seeing this we examined all their
noses and found that
they all had holes for the same purpose, they had
likewise holes in their ears
but no ornaments hanging to them, they had bracelets
upon their arms made of
hair and like hoops of small cord they sometimes must
wear a kind of fillet
about their heads for one of them had applied some part
of an old shirt I had
given them to this use. Banks: Indians
came over again today, 2 that were with us yesterday and
two new ones
who our old acquaintance introduced to us by their
names, one of which was
Tho we did not yesterday observe it they all had the
Septum or inner
part of the nose bored through with a very large hole,
in which one of them had
stuck the bone of a bird as thick as a mans finger and 5
or 6 inches long, an
ornament no doubt tho to us it appeared rather an
with them a fish which they gave to us in return I
suppose for the fish we had
given them yesterday.
Their stay was but short for some of our gentlemen being
rather too curious in examining their canoe they went
directly to it and
pushing it off went away without saying a word. Thursday, 12 July 1770 Cook: About this time 5 of the
came over [in a canoe] and stayed with
us all the forenoon, there were 7 in the whole 5 men
a woman and a boy, these two last stayed on the point of
sand on the other side
of the River about 200
yards from us, we could
very clearly see with our glasses that the woman was as
naked as ever she was
born, even those parts which I allways before now
thought nature would have
taught a woman to conceal were uncovered.
came again today and ventured down to Tupias tent, where
they were so well
pleased with their reception that three staid while the
fourth went with the
Canoe to fetch two new ones; they introduced their
strangers (which they always
made a point of doing) by name and had some fish given
They received it
with indifference, signed to our people to cook it for
them, which was done,
and they ate part and gave the rest to my Bitch.
They stayed most part of the
morning but never ventured above 20 yards
from their canoe.
canoe was not above 10 feet long and very narrow built
with an outrigger fitted
much like those at the Islands only far inferior; they
in shallow waters set
her on with poles, in deep paddled her with paddles
about 4 feet long; she just
carried 4 people so that the 6 who visited us today were
obliged to make 2
Their lances were much like those we had seen at Botany
they were all of them single pointed with the stings of
sting-rays and bearded
[barbed] with two or three beards of the same, which
made them indeed a
terrible weapon; the board or stick with which they
flung them was also made in
a neater manner.
After having staid with us the greater part of the
they went away as they came. Saturday, 4 August
[Departure from Endeavour River]
[Description of the place] They
had lances and levers, very neatly made of reddish wood;
and had two pieces of
bone, joined together with pitch, that stood out at the
end of them.
their lances they made use of the ficus ridola, which
served the purpose of a
Their canoes were made out of the trunks of trees; had
an outrigger; and
eight outriggers on which they laid their lances.
Their paddles were long in
To throw the water out of their canoes, they used a
called the Persian-crown. ... They
seem to live mostly on shell-fish, the remains of which
we frequently saw about
their fires, which they procure by twirling a piece of
wood in a hole, made in
another piece, till it is lit up into a flame.
Sunday 12 August 1770 [Lizard Island]
Cook: The inhabitants of the Main
visit this Island at some seasons of the year for we saw
the ruins of several
of their hurts and heaps of shells &ca.
Banks: Distant as this isle was from the main, the
Indians had been here in
their poor embarkations, sure sign that some part of the
year must have very
settled fine weather; we saw 7 or 8 frames of their huts
and vast piles of shells
the fish of which had I suppose been their food.
Monday 13 August 1770 [Eagle Island?]
Cook: At 2
oClock in the pm we left Lizard Island in order to
the Ship and in our way landed upon a low sandy isle
mentioned in coming out.
We found on this island a
great number of birds the most of them sea fowl,
except Eagles, we like wise saw some turtle shells but
caught none for the
reasons before assigned. We found that some of the
Natives resort to this
island as we saw several turtle shells piled one upon
After leaving Eagle Island we stood sw directly for ... After we got on board the
Master informed me
that he had been down to the islands I had directed him
to go which ... He found upon the islands
piles of turtle shells and some fins that were so fresh
that both he and the
boats crew eat of them, this shewed me that the Natives
must have been there
Banks: The Indians have been here likewise and lived
upon turtle, as we could
plainly see by the heaps of Callipashes [carapace] which
were piled up in
several parts of the island.
Our Master who had been sent to leeward to examine
that Passage went ashore upon a low island where he
Here he saw vast
plenty of turtle shells, and so great plenty had the
Indians had when there
that they had hung up the finns with the meat left on
them in the trees, where
the sun had dried them so well that our seamen eat them
Tuesday 14 August 1770
Cook: I forgot to mention in its proper place that not
only on these islands
but in several places on the sea beach in and about
Endeavour River we found
bamboos, Cocoa-nutts, the seeds of plants, and pummick
[pumice] stones which
were not the produce of this country from all the
discoveries we have been able
to make in it.
It is reasonable to suppose that they are the produce of
country lying to the eastward and brought here by the
easterly trade winds.
Monday 20 August 1770 [Boydong Island]
Cook: Upon this
island which is only a small spot of sand with
some trees upon it, we saw a
good many hurts or habitations of the natives which we
supposed comes over
from the main to these islands (from which they are
distant about 5 leagues) to
catch turtle at the time these animals come ashore to
lay their eggs.
Banks: At noon we passed along a large shoal on which
the boats which were
ahead saw many turtle but it blew too fresh to catch
them. We are now tolerably
near the main, which appeared low and barren and often
interspersed with large
patches of very white sand spoke of before.
On a small island which we passed
very near to were 5 natives, two of whom carried their
lances in their hands;
they came down upon a point and looked at the ship for a
little while and then
Wednesday 22 August 1770
Cook: Before and after we anchored
we saw a number of people on this island
armed in the same manner as all the others we have seen,
except one man who had
a bow and a bundle of arrows, the first we have seen
upon this coast.
appearance of these people we expected that they would
have opposed our landing
but as we approached the shore they all made off and
left us in peaceable
posession of as much of the island as served our
Cook's Description of New Holland
Page 86 They have wooden fish gigs with
2, 3 or 4 prongs each very ingeniously made with which they
strike fish; we have also seen them strike both fish and
birds with their darts. With these they likewise kill other
Animals; they have also wooden Harpoons for striking Turtle,
but of these I
Page 87 I believe they get but few,
except at the Season they come a shore to lay.
In short these people live wholey by fishing and hunting,
but mostly by the former, for we never saw one inch of
cultivated land in the whole country, they know however the
use of taara and sometimes eat them.
We do not know that they eat anything raw but roast or broil
all they eat on slow small fires. ... Their Canoes are as mean as can
be conceived, especially to the southward where all we saw
were made of one piece of the bark of trees about 12 or 14
feet long, drawn or tied together at one end as I have
before made mention, these canoes will not carry
above 2 people, in general there
is never more than one in them, but bad as they are they do
very well for the purpose they apply them to, better then if
they were larger, for as they draw but little water they go
in them upon the Mud banks and pick up shell fish etc.
without going out of the canoe.
The few canoes we saw to the northward were made of a log of
wood hollowed out, about 14 feet long and very narrow with
out-riggers, these will carry 4 people.
During our whole stay in Endeavour River we saw but one
Canoe and had great reason to think that the few people that
resided about this place had no more; this one served them
to cross the River and to go a fishing in etc.
They attend the shoals and flats one where or another every
day at low-water to gather shell fish or what ever they can
find to eat, and have each a little bag to put what they get
in: this bag is made of net work.
They have not the least knowledge of iron or any other metal
that we know of, their working tools must but be made of
stone, bone and shells, those made of the former are very
bad if I may judge from one of their adzes I have seen- Bad and mean as their Canoes
are they at certain
seasons of the year visit so far
as we know go in them to the most distant islands which lay
upon the coast, for we never landed upon one but what we saw
signs of people having been there before.
We were suprised to find houses etc. upon Lizard Island
which lies 5 Leagues from the nearest part of the Main, a
distance we before thought that they could not have gone in
I shall add a short Vocabulary
of a few words in the New-Holland Language which we learnt
when in Endeavour River — ... Page 91
A Canoe - Maragan
Banks: Some account of that part of New Holland
now called New South Wales
The sea however made some amends
for the bareness of the land.
Fish, though not so plentifull as they generaly are in
higher latitudes, were far from scarce;
where we had an opportunity of
haling the seine we generally caught from 50 to 200 lb of
fish in a tide.
There sorts were various, none I think but mullets known in
Europe; in general however they were sufficiently palatable
and some very delicate food; the sting rays indeed which
were caught on the Southern part of the coast were very
coarse, but there little else was caught so we were obliged
to comfort ourselves with the comforts of plenty and enjoy
more pleasure in satiety than in eating.
To the Northward again when we came to be entangled within
the great Reef (within which we sailed to our knowledge 0?
leages and we knew not how many more, perplexed every moment
with shoals) was a plenty of turtle hardly to be credited,
every shoal swarmed with them.
The weather indeed was generaly so boisterous that our boats
could not row after them so fast as they could swim, so that
we got but few, but they were excellent and so large that a
single turtle always served the ship.
Had we been there either at the time of laying or the more Page 278
moderate season we doubtless
might have taken any quantity.
Besides this all the shoals that were dry at half ebb
afforded plenty of fish that were left dry in small hollows
of the rocks, and a profusion of large shell fish (Chama Gigas) such as
Dampier describes Vol III, p. 191.
The large ones of this kind had 10 or 15 lb of meat in them;
it was indeed rather strong but I believe a very wholesome
food and well relished by the people in general.
On different parts of the coast were also found oysters
which were said to be very well tasted; the shells also of
well sized lobsters and crabs were seen but these it was
never our fortune to catch.
For food they seem to depend
very much though not entirely upon the sea.
Fish of all kinds, turtle and even crabs they strike with
their lances very dextrously.
These are generally bearded with broad beards and their
points smeared over with a kind of hard resin which makes
them peirce a hard body far easier than they would do
In the sourthern parts these fish spears had 4 prongs and
besides the resin were pointed with the sharp bone of a
fish; to the Northward again their spears had only one
point; yet both I believe struck fish with equal dexterity.
For the Northern ones I can witness who several times saw
them through a glass throw their spear from 10 to 20 yards
and generaly succeed; to the Southward again the plenty of
fish bones we saw near their
fires proved them to be no indifferent artists. For
striking of turtle they use a peg of wood well bearded and
about a foot long: this fastens into a socket of a staff of
light wood as thick as a man's wrist and 8 or 9 feet long,
besides which they are tied together by a loose line of 3 or
4 fathoms in length.
The use of this must undoubtedly be that when the turtle is
struck the staff flies off from the peg and serves for a
float to show them where the turtle is, as well as assists
to tire him till they can with their canoes overtake and
haul him in.
That they throw this dart with great force we had occasion
to observe while we lay in Endeavours river, where a turtle
which we killed had one of them entirely buried in its body
just across its breast; it seemed to have entered at the
soft place where the fore fins work but not the least
outward mark of the wound remained. Besides
these things we saw near their fire places plentiful remains
of lobsters, shell fish of all kinds, and to the Southward
the skins of those sea animals which from their
property of spouting out water
when touched are commonly called sea squirts.
These last, howsoever disgustful they may seem to an
European palate, we found to contain under a coat as tough
as leather a substance like the guts of a shell fish, in
taste though not equal to an oyster yet by no means to be
despised by a man who is hungry.
Tools among them we saw almost
none, indeed having no arts which require any it is not to
be expected that they should have many.
A stone made sharp at the edge
and a wooden mallet were the only ones we saw that had been
formed by art; the use of these we supposed to be in making
the notches in the bark of high trees by which they climb
them for purposes unknown to us, and for cutting and perhaps
driving wedges to take of the bark which they must have in
large pieces for making canoes, shields and water buckets
and also for covering their houses.
Besides these they use shells and corals to scrape the
points of their darts, and polish them with the leaves of a
kind of wild fig tree (Ficus
Radulo) which bites upon wood almost as keenly as
our European shave grass used by the joiners.
Their fish hooks are made of shell very neatly and some
exceedingly small; their lines are also well twisted and
they have them from the size of a half inch rope to almost
the fineness of a hair made of some vegetable.
Of netting they seem to be quite ignorant but make their
bags, the only thing of the kind we saw among them, by
laying the threads loop within loop something in the way of
knitting only very coarse and open,
in the very same manner as I
have seen ladies make purses in England.
They get fire very expeditiously
with two pieces of stick very readily and nimbly: the one
must be round and 8 or nine inches long and both it and the
other should be dry and soft; the round one they sharpen a
little at one end and pressing it upon the other turn it
round with the palms of their hands just as Europeans do a
chocolate mill, often shifting their hands up and running
them down quick to make the pressure as hard as possible; in
this manner they will get fire in less than 2 minutes and
when once posessed of the smallest spark increase [it] in a
manner truly wonderful.
Defensive weapons we saw only in
Sting-Rays bay and there only a single instance - a man who
attempted to oppose our landing came down to the beach with
a shield of an oblong shape about 3 feet long and 1˝ broad
made of the bark of a tree; this he left behind when he ran
away and we found upon taking it up that it plainly had been
pierced through with a single pointed lance near the centre.
That such shields were frequently used in that neighbourhood
we had however sufficient proof, often seeing upon trees the
places from whence they had been cut and sometimes the
shields themselves cut out but not yet taken off from the
tree; the edges of the bark only being a little raised with
wedges; which shows that these people certainly know how
much thicker and stronger bark becomes by being suffered to
remain upon the tree some time after it is cut round. Page 304
Their Canoes were the only
things in which we saw a manifest difference between the
Southern and Northern people.
Those in the Southward were little better contrived or
executed than their Houses: a piece of bark tied together in
pleats at the ends and kept extended Page 305
in the middle by small bows of
wood was the whole embarkation, which carried one or two,
nay we once saw three people, who moved it along in shallow
water by setting with long poles; and in deeper by paddling
with paddles about 18 inches long, one of which they held in
In the middle of these Canoes was generally a small fire
upon a heap of sea weed, for what purpose intended we did
not learn except perhaps to give the fisherman an
opportunity of Eating fish in perfection by broiling it the
moment it is taken.
To the Northward again their
canoes tho exceeding bad were far superior to these.
They were small but regularly hollowrd out of the trunk of a
tree and fitted with an outrigger to prevent them from over
setting; in these they had paddles large enough to require
both hands to work them.
Of this sort we saw only and had an opportunity of examining
only one of them which might be about 10 or 11 feet long but
was immensely narrow; the sides of the tree were left in
their natural state untouched by tools but at each [end]
Page 306 they had cut off
from the under part and left part of the upper side
overhanging; the inside also was not ill hollowed and the
sides tolerably thin.
What burden it was capable of carrying we had many times an
opportunity to see: 3 people or at most 4 were as many as
dare venture in it and if any more wanted to come over the
river, which in that place was about a half a mile broad,
one of these would carry back the canoe and fetch them.
This was the only piece of workmanship which I saw
among the New Hollanders that seemed to require tools.
How they had hollowed her out or cut the ends I cannot
guess but upon the whole the work was not ill done; Indian
patience might do a great deal with shells etc. without
the use of stone axes, which if they had had they would
probably have used to form her outside as well as inside.
That such a canoe takes them up much time and trouble in
the making may be concluded from our seeing so few, and
still more from the moral certainty which we have that the
tribe which visited [us] and consisted to our
knowledge of 21 people and may be of several more had only
one such belonging to them.
How tedious must it be for these people to be ferried over
a river a mile or two wide by threes and fours at a time:
how well therefore worth the pains for them to stock
themselves better with boats if they could do it!
I am inclined to believe that besides these canoes
the Northern People know and make use of the bark one of
the South, and that from having seen one of the small
paddles left by them upon a small Island where they had
been fishing for turtle; it lay upon a heap of turtle
shells and bones, trophies of the good living they had had
when there, and with it lay a broken staff of a turtle peg
and a rotten line, tools which had been worn out I suppose
in the service of catching them.
We had great reason to believe that at some season of the
year the weather is much more moderate than we found it,
otherwise the Indians never could have ventured in any
canoes that we saw half so far
from the mainland as islands were on which we saw
evident marks of their having been, such as decayed
houses, fires, the before mentioned Turtle bones etc.
May be at this more moderate time they may make and use
such canoes, and when the blustering season comes on may
convert the bark of which they were made to the purposes
of covering houses, making water buckets etc., etc. well
knowing that when the next season returns they will not
want a supply of bark to rebuild their vessels.
Maragan - a Canoe
Pelenyo- to Paddle
1770 Sidney Parkinson: Australian Aborigines'
Bay,1770 [detail]. - The Trustees of the British
Museum, photograph by Michael Holford.
This bay is in latitude 34° 6’,
and makes a good harbour, being only two or three points
open to the eastward; but the water is in general shallow;
and it has several arms extending from it, which are also
On these shallows we found a great number of rays, some
shell-fish, and a few sharks.
The rays are of an enormous size: one of them which we
caught weighed two hundred and thirty-nine pounds, and
another three hundred and twenty-six.
They tasted very much like the European rays, and the
viscera had an agreeable flavour, not unlike stewed turtle.
These rays, and shell-fish, are the natives chief food.
Page 189 [Endeavour River]
There were many alligators on the coast, some of them very
large, and we frequently saw them swimming round the ship. We
found also several sorts of snakes, ants, and a small culex,
or fly, which is not bigger than a grain of sand; the bite
or sting of which was venomous, and caused protuberances on
the skin, which itched violently. Of
fish, we found many different sorts, and a variety of
beautiful shell-fish; among them three sorts of oysters;
some were found in lagoons; some adhering to the mangrove;
and others along the shore: large cavalhe, or scomber; large
mullets, some flat-fish, a great number of small scombri;
and skate or ray-fish; one of which, that we caught, was
curiously marked on the back with polygons finely coloured,
and another of an orbicular figure, with a blue
grey-coloured back, and white belly, which tasted like veal;
some other parts like beef; and the entrails as agreeable as
We caught also turtles of a bright green colour, some of
which weighed near four hundred pounds †. Page 190
They had lances and levers,
very neatly made of a reddish wood; and had two pieces of
bone, joined together with pitch, that stood out at the end
To polish their lances they made use of the ficus riduola, which
served the purpose of a rasp.
Their canoes were made out of the trunks of trees; had an
out-rigger; and eight outriggers on which they laid their
Their paddles were long in the blade.
To throw the water out of their canoes, they used a large
shell called the Persian-crown.
We continued to stand into the bay, and early in the
afternoon anchored under the south shore, about two miles
within the entrance, in six fathom water, the south point
bearing S.E. and the north point East.
As we came in we saw, on both points of the bay, a few huts,
and several of the natives, men, women, and children.
Under the south head we saw four small canoes, with each one
man on board, who were very busily employed in striking fish
with a long pike or spear: they ventured almost into the
surf, and were so intent upon what they were doing, that
although the ship passed within a quarter of a mile of them,
they scarcely turned their eyes towards her; possibly being
deafened by the surf, and their attention wholly fixed upon
their business or sport, they neither saw nor heard her go
James Cook's Journal of
Remarkable Occurrences aboard His Majesty's Bark Endeavour, 1768-1771. Daily entries and Descriptions. The Endeavour Journal of Joseph Banks,
1768-1771 Daily entries and
Descriptions Sydney Parkinson's Journal
of a Voyage to the South Seas, in His Majesty's Ship, The
Parkin, Ray: H. M. Bark Endeavour:
Her Place in Australian History. Miegunyah Press, second edition 2003.
guns and ballast. Great Barrier
June 1770 Banks: ...
scarce were we warm in our beds when we were calld up
the alarming news of the ship being fast ashore upon a
rock, which she in a few
moments convincd us of by beating very violently against
Orders were now given for lightning the ship which was
starting our water and pumping it up; the ballast was
then got up and thrown over board, as
well as 6 of our guns (all that we had upon deck).
All this time the Seamen
workd with surprizing chearfullness and alacrity; no
grumbling or growling was
to be heard throughout the ship, no not even an oath
(tho the ship in general
was as well furnishd with them as most in his
11th June, 1770. Parkinson: On the 11th, early in the morning, we lightened
the ship, by throwing over-board our ballast, firewood,
some of our stores, our water-casks, all our water, and
six of our great guns; and set the pumps at work, at
which every man on board assisted, the Captain, Mr.
Banks, and all the officers, not excepted; relieving one
another every quarter of an hour.
The jettisoned guns
and ballast were salvaged by a research team from the
American Academy of
Natural Sciences in 1969.
An anchor, lost on the reef during
the grounding, was raised in December 1971.