Paul Rose tells the true story of an eventful voyage as he explores how Captain James Cook's discoveries changed the world.
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One night nearly 250 years ago, a ship ran aground on a treacherous reef in the Pacific Ocean.
Water poured in through her wooden hull, threatening to sink her and drown all those on board.
The ship that faced a watery grave
appeared to be nothing more than an unremarkable coaling vessel
captained by an unknown commander on an obscure scientific field trip.
But this ship had a secret mission, one that would redraw the map of the world
and make a hero of her undistinguished leader.
The ship was called the Endeavour and her commander was Captain James Cook.
This is the incredible story of one of the greatest sea adventures in history,
a voyage that would transform James Cook from a naval nobody into a national hero.
SEA SHANTY BEING SUNG
# Hang all politicians Hurray, boys, hurray
# It makes work for morticians Hurray, boys, hurray... #
Two-and-a-half centuries after his adventures,
Captain Cook is a household name. But the story is often misunderstood.
People think he discovered New Zealand and this place - Australia.
But in truth, he didn't.
But his story is no less remarkable.
As an explorer myself, I'm astonished by his achievements
and I want to tell you the real story of Captain Cook.
The Endeavour sailed from Plymouth on the 26th of August 1768.
It was the Age of Enlightenment, an era of intellectual ferment.
Huge advances were being made in the fields of science, literature and the exploration of the globe.
Officially, the Endeavour was on a scientific mission
to measure an astronomical phenomenon - the transit of Venus,
the rare moment when Venus crosses in front of the sun.
If successfully observed, these measurements would enable astronomers
to calculate the distance between the Earth and the sun,
a figure which could then be used to measure the dimensions of the solar system itself.
The ship's orders were to measure the transit
from the middle of the South Pacific, the other side of the world.
But this wasn't the only reason for the mission because, on board, was a second set of secret instructions.
These sealed instructions contained the real mission of the voyage.
No-one, not even the ship's commander, knew where they would lead them.
The 94-man crew reflected the spirit of the age.
As well as an astronomer, the Endeavour included in her ranks two scientists and two artists.
They were all under the command of James Cook.
Of course, today, James Cook is world famous,
but at the time of the Endeavour voyage, he was a complete unknown.
In fact, Captain Cook wasn't even a captain. He was a lieutenant.
In the Royal Navy at the time - 1768 - there were 300 captains and over 900 lieutenants,
which shows you how far down the naval hierarchy he really was.
Indeed, Lieutenant Cook appeared to be a surprising choice for the mission.
His career had begun inauspiciously, as Cook himself wrote.
I am a man who has not the advantage of education, nor natural abilities for writing,
but one who has constantly been at sea from his youth as apprentice boy in the coal trade.
After a decade on board the coaling ships of northeast England,
Cook enlisted as an able seaman in the Royal Navy, rising to the rank of ship's master.
12 years on, he had never made a voyage as long as the one now proposed
and had commanded nothing bigger than a humble schooner.
Cook faced a problem that held him back - class.
Cook was a farmer's son from Yorkshire, not the right candidate for the class-obsessed Royal Navy.
This is why, by the ripe age of 40, he hadn't risen up the ranks
and why the Admiralty, after picking him to lead the expedition, kept him at arm's length,
refusing to promote him to captain. They gave him the responsibility but not the rank.
They ultimately chose Cook because, working class or not,
they knew he possessed the skills that made him perfectly fitted to this mission.
He proved himself to be a skilled navigator and surveyor
and, more appropriately, had developed a fascination with astronomy.
For Cook, this expedition was his chance to prove himself.
At last, here was the opportunity to reveal his talents,
to show that class was no barrier to achievement.
That's good, lads.
But it was a huge challenge.
To carry out his mission, Cook would have to navigate his ship to the other side of the world,
battling treacherous seas and dangerous currents.
It's a beautiful day in a flat, calm Sydney Harbour.
What's it like to sail these boats in rough weather on big passages? You've made those passages.
Well, you get all kinds of weather.
You get this sort of weather round the Tropics
in the southern latitudes.
In the high latitudes, it's cold, rough, the ship rolls heavily.
You have to be up the mast sometimes when it's rolling, pitching violently.
And of course, in Cook's day, they would have had no back-up.
If we recreated this journey, we'd have modern comms and navigation.
We would always know we had some back-up.
A long way from home, no communication. Like a ship lost in space. Couldn't call Mum.
To make things worse, the Endeavour sailed alone.
It was usual for ships on these journeys to travel with support vessels in case of trouble.
What's more, she was just a basic, workmanlike coaling vessel. Certainly not glamorous.
As she plodded south, she looked like the most unlikely ship in the world to be making history.
As if that wasn't enough, there was the question
of whether Cook could even sustain a crew fit enough to sail his lone ship across the world.
Can you imagine 100 men crammed together on a small ship like this, 100ft long?
Conditions below must have been appalling, let alone the smell.
Disease was rife. And even though Cook was incredibly strict about keeping his men and the ship clean,
there was one disease that cleanliness couldn't prevent - scurvy.
Over the years, Cook has been acclaimed
as the man who discovered the cure for the terrible disease of scurvy.
But in fact, it's not quite so simple.
The true story goes back centuries.
Scurvy was the scourge of the navy.
It was a particularly gruesome way to die.
Gums bled, teeth fell out, limbs seized up...
ulcers broke out, old wounds reopened.
And, most revoltingly, gum tissue oozed out of the mouth and began to rot,
making the victim's breath stink.
Death must have come as a blessed release.
Disease decimated crews.
In the 300 years before Cook's journey on the Endeavour,
over two million sailors had died from scurvy.
A captain could expect to lose at least 40% of his men, a figure often rising to 80%.
Cook was faced with a massive problem.
Very little was known about scurvy
and there was no agreement as to what caused it or what might prevent it.
Some believed it was caused by bad air, thickening of the blood, lack of oxygen, sadness
or even the fat being skimmed off the boiling pots on board ship.
The treatments were even more bizarre -
bloodletting, bathing in animal's blood or having the poor victim buried up to his neck in the sand!
Of course, none of them worked.
-Nice to see you.
-Come on board.
Astonishingly, some people had stumbled upon the real cure for scurvy
during the previous 200 years.
Who were these people that found the cure for scurvy?
A Dutch physician in the middle of the 17th century had noted a cure.
And then, with the East India Company ships coming across the Indian Ocean,
there had been a fellow called Woodall, who was a surgeon.
He had noted one of the cures round about 1636.
This was a long time before Cook's voyage.
A long, long time. One of the problems, of course, was that
these people weren't just noting one cure. It was one of a number of things. It wasn't so clear.
What did Cook do on the Endeavour to try and prevent scurvy?
He was told to take a number of things which were meant to cure scurvy.
He took wort, which is a kind of an infusion made from malt.
He took portable soup which was like a large stock cube.
You mixed it with wheat and served it as a gruel.
One of the main things he introduced was this stuff - sauerkraut.
Pickled cabbage. Let's have a go.
It's not the best! Particularly, if you've got to eat it for three years!
Very much an acquired taste.
Cook hoped that his special diet would work.
But making sure the men stuck to it was no easy matter.
After two months at sea, some of the crew had had enough of the ship's rations.
On the 16th of September, two men rebelled against the rigid diet.
As Cook noted in his daily journal, punishment was swift and severe.
Punished Henry Stevens, seaman, and Thomas Dunster, marine,
with 12 lashes each for refusing to take their allowance of fresh beef.
This punishment might seem harsh for the crime,
but the lash was a regular part of navy life
and the refusal to obey orders was tantamount to mutiny.
This punishment shows how determined Cook was to keep his men healthy.
He was essentially a very humane man. Other captains would have dished out two dozen lashings.
In fact, Cook preferred to use a bit of psychology rather than the lash to get the men to obey his orders.
The next time there was reluctance to eat the diet, he came up with a great plan.
The men hated the sauerkraut that he put in their diet,
so he took it off their menu and just kept it on the officers' menu instead.
Of course, overnight, sauerkraut became the most desired dish on board.
For such are the tempers and dispositions of seamen in general
that the moment they saw their superiors set a value on it,
it becomes the finest stuff in the world, and the inventor a damned honest fellow.
Despite Cook's careful diet, scurvy wasn't completely banished from the decks of the Endeavour.
The disease struck many of the crew, including one of the expedition's most vital members, Joseph Banks.
Banks was a young, fantastically wealthy playboy
who had effectively bought his way onto the ship.
He had paid £10,000, over £1 million in today's money,
for his place on board -
more than twice as much as the official state funding of the expedition.
And all to indulge his personal passion - botany.
Banks brought with him an entourage of fellow botanists and artists whose task was to collect and study
the new plants encountered on the voyage.
He also brought with him, as any English gentleman would do, two greyhounds.
But right now, Banks's whole project, not to mention his life, was threatened by scurvy.
At first he tried to treat it by drinking a pint of wort each night.
But to no effect.
Then he tried another remedy...
"I flew to the lemon juice. The effect was surprising.
"In less than a week, my gums became as firm as ever
"and, at this time, I am troubled with nothing but a few pimples on my face."
Banks has actually stumbled across the cure for scurvy - the vitamin C in fresh fruit and vegetables,
particularly citrus fruits like these.
But neither Banks nor Cook knew really if they'd found the remedy.
They still saw the lemon juice as one possible cure amongst many.
But as the Endeavour sailed on,
it became clear that Cook's strategy was working.
Despite a few scares, nobody was actually dying from scurvy.
In 1768, this was unheard of.
Cook might not have known about vitamin C, present even in the sauerkraut.
but by enforcing his rigid diet in the first place, he was making medical and naval history.
From the voyage of the Endeavour onwards, the Admiralty recognised
the crucial importance of diet.
Limes became standard on all British voyages -
hence the nickname limeys - and deaths fell dramatically.
After five months at sea, the voyage appeared to be going well.
Cook had scurvy under control and the ship was making good time,
but they were still 8,000km from the heart of the South Pacific where they were to carry out their mission
and the worst part of the passage was yet to come.
The voyage was about to enter its most dangerous part -
the treacherous waters around Cape Horn at the bottom of South America.
These waters are regarded as amongst the most dangerous in the world,
with big storms, huge waves, fog and icebergs.
And Cook had to sail right through them.
The Endeavour was battered by fierce storms
and Cook was forced to make three failed attempts to enter the waters around the cape.
Finally, on his fourth attempt, sailing against strong winds and currents,
the Endeavour made it through. Cook was beginning to show the character that would make him great.
Rod Fleck is Cook's great-great-great nephew.
What kind of person do you think he was?
I feel that he was very humane and...he liked people.
He wouldn't do anything nasty to a person. He had a gentle disposition.
Very reserved, quiet, a kind and gentle person.
He had the natural ability, I feel, to pick up things, to learn.
And, apart from that, he could carry it forward.
There's a lot of people who learn, but they can never go through and do the things.
-That's what I feel he had.
-That would really help his credibility as a leader of men.
Isaac Smith said - he went on a few voyages with him, later Admiral -
he said that he was...feared but loved by his crew.
Feared because of the lash, but they loved him. That's it.
What more can you say about someone like that?
As the Endeavour sailed on across the Pacific, the seas became calmer
and the weather more tropical.
As the voyage progressed, the ship made various stops,
which provided Banks and his party
with the opportunity to collect new plant specimens and shoot previously unknown animals and birds.
Cook's cabin rapidly became flooded
with all kinds of strange and unfamiliar plant and animal life.
Then, on the 13th of April 1769, after 33 weeks at sea,
land was finally spotted.
Cook had arrived at the South Pacific island that would hopefully make his name.
It was here in Tahiti that he was to carry out his mission and measure the transit of Venus.
The Endeavour had arrived in paradise.
This was a land of plenty and sexual liberation,
where fruit fell from the trees and beautiful women offered themselves freely.
But Cook had important work to do,
work that could potentially widen our understanding of the universe, and finally prove his abilities.
Cook had successfully sailed halfway round the world,
now he had to prove himself as an astronomer.
He knew he had just one chance of getting his measurements right.
Although he was just 1 of 77 observers around the world measuring the transit,
he was the most important because he was the only one in the southern hemisphere.
And that was the only place in the world where you could clearly see the transit from beginning to end.
And as if that wasn't enough pressure, the transit of Venus is an incredibly rare event.
It wouldn't happen again for another 105 years!
Cook immediately began to prepare for the transit.
But before work in Tahiti began,
he gave his crew some highly unusual instructions.
You are to endeavour by every fair means to cultivate a friendship with the natives
and to treat them with all imaginable humanity.
Cook's orders were extraordinarily radical.
In the 18th century, most explorers' idea of co-operating with indigenous peoples
was to go in with guns blazing.
But Cook preferred negotiation over brute force, making friends rather than enemies.
In the event, there was no need for violence. The people of Tahiti
proved to be warm, open and welcoming. Banks wrote lyrically...
If we quarrel with those Indians, we should not agree with angels.
But the Tahitians did possess one annoying trait.
It started as an irritation, but was to escalate into something much more serious.
They liked to steal!
It was hard to keep them out of the ship as they climb like monkeys,
but it was still harder to keep them from stealing whatever came within their reach.
In this, they are prodigious experts.
Metal was an especially attractive commodity to Tahitians.
It wasn't long before all kinds of things were going missing, including snuff boxes and opera glasses.
The Endeavour's store of iron nails were an especially attractive commodity,
particularly once the crew realised that a handful of them could be swapped for sex with local women!
But petty thieving soon turned into disaster.
One morning, one of the most vital pieces of equipment for measuring the transit -
the astronomical quadrant - was discovered missing.
Without it, the measurement of the transit could not take place.
Banks found out from a local chieftain the name of the thief and the direction that he'd headed
and he set off running after him,
through the blazing heat and the jungle, across the island, for 11 kilometres.
It wasn't long before great hordes of Tahitians turned out
to see who would win and what the outcome would be.
Eventually, Banks found the quadrant discarded by the side of the trail. The thief had just thrown it away.
The stage was set for measuring the transit.
The day dawned and the omens were good. The skies were crystal clear.
As the thermometer rose to 119 degrees,
Cook and his team of observers trained their telescopes on the sun.
Astronomer Wayne Orchiston has studied the astronomical mission.
I asked him how Cook measured the transit of Venus.
Well, let me show you. You've got the ideal T-shirt there.
We've got the sun there, and this beautiful little nut will represent Venus.
We want to observe the transit of Venus as it travels across the sun.
So Venus approaches the edge of the sun, onto the sun...
and then exits the sun.
That transit from here to here will take just over six hours.
To determine the transit accurately, we record precisely
when Venus is just on the edge of the sun but outside it, on the edge of the sun but inside it -
just touching the limb of the sun. We call that first and second contacts.
The third contact is just as it approaches and touches the edge of the sun, fourth contact as it leaves.
It's those four contact points and their times that are critical.
We observe those by looking through the telescope, observing Venus as it approaches the sun
and then, with the clock we've got adjacent to the telescope, recording the times.
But as Venus crept in front of the sun, Cook realised he had a major problem on his hands.
When Venus enters the sun,
once it gets to this point - second contact - Venus has an atmosphere round it, so you see a hazy shadow.
And so it is very hard to know when Venus gets right on to the sun.
As it moves further and further onto the sun,
you end up with a little strip of shadow linking the edge of the sun.
So when do you decide that second contact has occurred?
Is it here, or here, or here?
When Cook compared the timings of the transit, it didn't tally.
The measurements varied by nearly a minute
and he needed them to be exact.
Now it seemed Cook had travelled halfway round the world, only for his mission to end in failure.
But another opportunity was about to present itself. One even greater than the measurement of the transit.
Cook's real mission was only just beginning.
It was time to open the secret instructions.
If achieved, these orders would transform Britain into the richest and most powerful nation on Earth
and turn Cook into a national hero.
"You are to proceed to the southward in order to make discovery of the continent
"until you arrive in the latitude of 40 degrees, unless you sooner fall in with it."
The real purpose of Cook's mission was now revealed -
the discovery of the fabled Great Southern Continent.
Hey, John. Thanks for letting me on. Right, give me something to do.
Well, we need to get that out.
In the 18th century, it was widely assumed that there was a Great Southern Continent,
somewhere in the South Pacific.
They were so confident it was there, it was as certain as the sun and the moon exists.
It was even given a name -
Terra Australis Incognita - unknown land of the south.
It was somewhere out there.
The notion of the Great Southern Continent dates from the classical world.
The Ancient Greeks had theorised about its existence in the 1st century AD.
By the Renaissance, scientists argued that, since the Earth was spherical, there must be
a great land mass in the Southern Hemisphere to counterbalance the vast continents in the north.
This was no ordinary continent.
By the 18th century, it was believed it covered most of the Southern Hemisphere,
a far greater land mass than anything we now know to exist.
All somebody needed to do was find it.
This lost continent was imagined to be a paradise on Earth.
A land overflowing with natural riches.
Whichever nation claimed it first stood to reap massive rewards.
Exploiting the continent's vast riches and commanding military and trading routes in the Pacific.
It had become the Holy Grail of empire and exploration.
This explains why Cook's orders were secret.
The British Government did not want their foreign rivals to know there was an expedition afoot.
What better cover for the mission than a simple coaling ship
on a science expedition to measure the transit of Venus?
The British Government wanted to get to the southern continent first, and in secret.
In an era when undiscovered land represented power and wealth,
there was intense competition to find this elusive continent.
This globe shows us all that was known of the world in the 1750s.
It was believed that the Great Southern Continent was somewhere round here in the South Pacific.
It was even given an exact location - 40 degrees south -
and a length - 8,000km long.
Cook's instructions were to sail further south in the Pacific than any man had ever gone before -
40 degrees latitude - in search of the Great Southern Continent.
And so the Endeavour's great adventure into the unknown began.
Overnight, the mission was transformed from a scientific field trip into a voyage of discovery.
Cook had been given a second chance, one that would stretch his skills to the limit.
He was about to be really tested for the first time in his life -
sailing into virgin seas.
Cook would need all his skills as a navigator and leader
to sail his small wooden ship and her crew into the unknown.
What really fascinates me is how Cook navigated.
He crossed thousands of kilometres across the Pacific that had never been charted.
He only had very, very basic navigational instruments.
He had no accurate charts, no land masses to get sights from,
no accurate way of measuring distance. It would have been a huge challenge.
These days on long passages, I've got a GPS, like many people, a very simple satellite receiver.
It takes in satellite signals and tells me where I am.
I'm reading it now. "Ready to navigate. Accuracy three metres."
Cook wouldn't have had anything like this.
But what Cook did have was his fascination with astronomy, a hobby that would now serve him well.
Cook measured the movement of the sun, the moon and the stars with a sextant
and compared his readings with tables of lunar predictions.
With some complex calculations, he came up with an incredibly accurate reading for his longitude -
the ship's position east/west.
Cook was one of the first sailors ever to determine a ship's location with such pinpoint accuracy.
Cook kept his course, sailing ever further south in search of the Great Southern Continent.
The crew's eyes remained fixed on the horizon.
There was an occasional false alarm when cloud formations were mistaken for land.
After three weeks of sailing south, the ship reached 40 degrees.
There was no sign of Terra Australis Incognita.
With Cook's experience of the sea, he could tell from the swell of the ocean and the trend of the currents
that there was no great land mass anywhere nearby.
Cook's orders told him that if he couldn't find the continent at 40 degrees south,
he was to sail west instead.
So the Endeavour changed course. For a month, she sailed west.
Cook offered a gallon of rum to the first person to sight the coast.
Still the continent stubbornly refused to appear.
Then, on the 6th of October 1769, at two o'clock in the afternoon,
an excited voice shouted out the words that everyone had been longing to hear...
Land ahoy! Land ahoy!
Land had been sighted, and a single substantial land mass at that.
It seemed that Cook had at last made one of the greatest discoveries in history.
He'd found the Great Southern Continent!
He went ashore to explore this promising new land.
This land is agreeable beyond description
and, with proper cultivation, might be rendered a kind of second paradise.
The hills are covered with beautiful flowering shrubs,
intermingled with a sort of tall and stately palms
which fill the air with a most fragrant perfume.
To the continent!
Joseph Banks was swept by the romance of the discovery.
Much difference of opinion and many conjectures about islands, rivers, inlets, etc,
but all hands seem to agree
that this is certainly the continent we are in search of.
Cook began to fully investigate this eastern coastline,
sailing north, painstakingly charting the unknown land as he went.
As Cook sailed the northern tip of the land and down its west coast,
he realised he was following a stretch of coastline
that had been explored and charted before - 130 years earlier.
You can see it - this little squiggle in the South Pacific.
It was speculated that could have been part of the Great Southern Continent.
Seemed that Cook had done it. He'd found the Holy Grail.
At last, success was in Cook's grasp.
But as the Endeavour charted more of the coastline, Cook was to be sorely disappointed.
The Endeavour eventually reached a stretch of water which Cook christened Queen Charlotte Sound.
He anchored and began to explore the surrounding countryside.
When Cook was a boy in Yorkshire,
he grew up in the shadow of Roseberry Topping, a large hill that he climbed all the time -
an entirely natural thing for kids and explorers to do - and the habit never left him.
Sure enough, when he arrived at Queen Charlotte Sound, he went up a hill to have a look.
And what he saw... was just extraordinary.
There was a large stretch of water
between the land he'd just sailed around and him.
Which meant it wasn't a continent at all. It was just an island.
In fact, Cook had become the first European to sail around
the land we now know as the North Island of New Zealand.
He was about to discover its South Island. But these two small islands weren't the great rich continent
that he'd been in search of.
This country, which before now was thought to be part of the imaginary southern continent,
consists of two large islands. As to a southern continent, I do not believe any such thing exists.
Cook had sailed across the part of the Pacific where the Great Southern Continent was supposed to be,
and it wasn't there. The dream of the great continent was in tatters.
Cook knew it would have been a lot better if he HAD found the continent
rather than proved it wasn't there. After all, his masters desperately wanted it to exist.
Yet again, the promise of success had been snatched from Cook's grasp.
The discovery of the Great Southern Continent would have made Cook's name, but he was not to be defeated.
He may not have found the continent,
but Cook was determined to seize victory and discover other unknown lands.
He made a remarkable decision.
Cook knew that to the north-west of New Zealand was a vast land that had yet to be fully explored.
Even though the Dutch had surveyed the north, west and south coasts,
the vast Eastern coast had never even been seen by Europeans.
It was called New Holland
and Cook proposed that they survey the whole length of it to its northernmost point
and only then would they sail home via the East Indies.
It was an extraordinary proposal, over and above the call of duty.
Something in Cook had been awoken,
a hunger that would drive him into the history books.
He was now gripped by a desire to explore and discover.
And that's exactly how it happens, it can't be denied, it's so powerful.
It happened to me when I was 17, diving at 30m for the very first time on a small wreck.
I just knew that this was all I wanted to do for the rest of my life.
I was just so happy I'd left school, so happy I hadn't gone to college
and I just wanted to get out and explore.
I reckon something like that happened to Cook at this time.
Cook sailed the Endeavour west, again venturing into the unknown.
Then, 20 days after leaving New Zealand,
the east coast of New Holland was seen by European eyes for the first time.
On the 29th of April 1770, nearly two years after leaving Britain,
Endeavour sailed into this bay.
Cook and his crew came ashore and stepped onto these very rocks
and became the first Europeans ever to land on the east coast of New Holland - Australia!
Cook might not have discovered Australia, but he was the first to chart its huge east coast,
completing the map of the country.
And he was the first to claim this vast, rich land for Britain.
What must it have been like for the indigenous people here to have seen Cook and his men arrive?
It would have been like seeing a UFO for the first time -
Unidentified FLOATING Object!
It came through the heads
and from its inside, these strange ghost-coloured people would have came out with coloured clothes on, skins,
and sand-coloured faces, carrying these strange implements
like a funny shaped spear. It would have been awe-inspiring to them.
What did Cook think of the local people when he first got...?
I think Cook had some very enlightened views.
He started asking questions. He noticed all these strange animals
and was asking the Guugu Yimithirr, "What's that?"
He saw this animal...
and the Guugu Yimithirr said...looked at the kangaroo and the Guugu Yimithirr turned around and said,
"I don't know. Be more specific. Be more specific." So they called this animal a kangaroo,
but in the language of the Guugu Yimithirr, kangaroo meant "I don't know"!
But it wasn't only new people that Cook and his crew found in Australia.
Banks and his team soon found huge numbers of important specimens of flora and fauna
totally unknown in Europe.
The great quantity of new plants Mr Banks collected in this place
occasioned my giving it the name of...
Botanist Harbour? Botanist Bay?
Doug Benson, a local botanist, has studied Banks's work on board the Endeavour.
-What did he collect here at Botany Bay?
-He collected at least 130 species,
including this Banksia Serrata, this Old Man Banksia,
which, unfortunately because it's winter hasn't got its pale yellow flowers.
-But it's a lovely plant.
-It's a beautiful looking tree.
-How much collecting did he do on the whole voyage?
-He collected something like 30,000 specimens.
But that includes plants, birds, insects, fish and so on.
What would you say was his contribution to science?
I think he gets botany going. He really provides this drive.
He is the most influential botanical figure,
probably in Australia's early history.
As a botanist myself, it's rather exciting
to see that botany, er... features so strongly in the early history of Australia.
It was this land that Cook claimed for Britain,
an act that was to change the course of history.
Though Cook's actions were to make his name,
their legacy may not have been in tune with his liberal thinking.
Of course, Cook is seen as being the father of modern Australia.
But he played no part in the colonising of this land.
It was Joseph Banks' idea, nine years after Cook's death,
that Botany Bay should be the home of a penal colony.
The British became the first European nation to settle this land.
And they sent cargo after cargo of convicts.
Australia would never be the same again.
The indigenous people round here, those people had a structure.
They already had a political system, a social system already set up.
They had education for their children.
They had a 40,000-year structure of living here.
They knew what to do with the land.
But in our perspective, not yours.
If that structure was so successful for 40,000 years,
how is it it couldn't resist the structure of the incoming Europeans?
You were the most powerful group of people on Earth at that particular point in time.
You had better ships, you knew the currents and navigation.
You had the weapon, the gun - that funny shaped spear that made a great noise and killed birds and animals.
My people would have said, "What the hell's that?!"
But you also came with your invisible luggage - the attitudes and values.
You also brought racism to this country.
On the 6th of May 1770, the Endeavour sailed further north up the coast.
She'd been away from home for nearly two years and had travelled to the other side of the world.
Surely Cook had now proved his worth.
He might not have found the Great Southern Continent,
but his ship was loaded with discoveries that would change our understanding of the world for ever.
Maps of new lands, astronomical readings
and thousands of botanical specimens.
But, unknown to Cook, ruin was lurking beneath the waves.
He had no way of knowing it,
but he was sailing towards some of the most treacherous shallows on the planet.
Ahead of him lay the vastness of the Great Barrier Reef.
This reef stretches for a massive 1,900 kilometres along the east coast of Australia.
It's so big, you can see it from space.
And for a wooden, 18th-century sailing ship,
it was a disaster waiting to happen.
It's beautiful down here,
one of the most spectacular dives anywhere on the planet.
But this beauty belies great danger.
The coral is made up of limestone.
It's hard as rock and razor sharp.
And if you look here...
..you can see how close the reef lies to the surface.
In fact, at low tide, it's virtually at the surface.
These days, modern ships have sonar to warn them of shallow water.
But all Cook had was his eyesight and a weighted rope.
You could imagine what it would be like to try to see this from above.
Especially at night.
It would have been virtually impossible.
At 11 o'clock in the evening of 10th of June 1770,
Cook was asleep in bed as the Endeavour made her way slowly northwards.
Success appeared finally to be within his grasp.
The Endeavour had crashed into the Great Barrier Reef, bringing her to a sudden halt.
Scarce were we warm in our beds when we were called up with alarming news
of the ship being fast ashore upon a rock, which she convinced us of by beating violently against the rocks.
Our situation now became greatly alarming.
The reef had punctured a hole...
right in the hull of the ship.
Water was pouring in.
But the worst problem was that the ship was pinned onto the reef and wouldn't budge.
Unless Cook could get the ship off, it would be wrecked
and the men would be drowned
because none of them could swim.
The only way Cook could get enough water to float Endeavour
was to wait for high tide.
In order to stand any chance of saving his ship and her crew,
Cook needed to make her as light as possible before the tide rose again.
As day dawned, Cook ordered 50 tons of heavy material to be thrown overboard.
Everything from cannons to ballast and barrels.
As the day drew on, Cook knew he'd done all he feasibly could to save the ship.
All he could do now was sit and wait for high tide,
hoping and praying that the ship was now light enough to be lifted free from the reef.
As the tide rose slowly, the men waited with bated breath.
The Endeavour gradually, inch by inch, was lifted from the coral.
She was afloat, but her troubles were far from over.
At 9 o'clock, the ship was righted and the leak gained considerably.
This was an alarming, and I may say, terrible circumstance
and threatened immediate destruction as soon as the ship was afloat.
By now, the water in the hold was over a metre deep.
Even frantically manning three pumps couldn't hold the water back.
Cook just had to find a way of plugging that hole.
Cook ordered his men to take an old sail and sew straw to it
before covering the straw with dung to make the sail sticky.
This was then tied to a rope, thrown overboard
and carefully manoeuvred into place over the leak.
The water pressure then forced it onto the hole like a giant plug.
It would do the job...for now.
The water was kept back long enough for the Endeavour to limp into a bay for repair.
But now Cook was trapped by the perils of the Barrier Reef.
Cook was really up against it. He had a jury-rigged repair. What's it like to navigate round there?
Even today, with all our sophisticated electronic equipment,
we still have to navigate through the Great Barrier Reef with extreme caution.
There's a saying, there's two types of skipper - those who have hit the reef and those who will.
If you drop your guard, you could be in serious trouble.
-It's unforgiving out there.
-What about you, have you hit it?
A long time ago, yes. I was against the tides
and, fortunately enough, we had a winch on the afterdeck of the vessel,
we were close to shore so we managed to wind this wire round a coconut tree to pull us off.
But poor Jimmy - I don't think he had those facilities.
All Cook did have at his disposal were his formidable skills as a navigator.
He knew that to return home, he had to find a way
through the treacherous reef that hemmed him in and stretched as far as the eye could see.
To get through would take all of Cook's ingenuity,
and here's what he came up with.
These waves over here mean that the reef comes very close to the surface,
making the water really shallow. Cook needed to find a place where there were no breaking waves
because that would mean deeper water and maybe a gap that he could get Endeavour through.
Cook eventually spotted a gap in the reef and decided to sail through.
He had no choice. It was that or be trapped within the reef for ever.
This was an incredibly risky manoeuvre.
We're picking our way through now on this big modern boat with two whopping great engines.
The Endeavour was a huge wooden ship with sail power only, no engines.
She was at the mercy of the winds, the tide and the current. Cook would have to pick his time and go for it.
With great skill and daring, Cook made it through the reef.
The Endeavour could now continue her journey home.
For 11 months, she sailed onward heading from New South Wales
to the East Indies, round the southern tip of Africa and then north towards Europe.
Finally, on the 12th of July 1771, she anchored at Deal in Kent
after three years at sea.
It had been a truly historic expedition.
Cook had become the first man ever to circumnavigate the world in a lone ship, a phenomenal achievement.
If that wasn't enough, he hadn't lost a single man to scurvy -
an unheard-of record.
He had joined the ranks of the few who had discovered new lands
and he had claimed a new country, Australia, for Britain.
At last, Cook's name was made. The Admiralty recognised his huge talents
and, finally, promoted him to the rank of captain.
Cook was now a hero.
Even the original scientific mission proved to be a resounding success.
Despite Cook's misgivings, his results would turn out to be vital.
In 1771, the astronomer Thomas Hornsby took five measurements
from various locations around the world, including Tahiti, and averaged them out.
Cook's measurements were essential to allow Hornsby to calculate the distance of the Earth from the sun.
The result was astonishingly accurate.
It came up with a figure of 151 million kilometres.
Incredibly close to today's accepted figure of 150 million kilometres from the Earth to the sun.
This became the yardstick for measuring distance in the solar system.
And, as a voyage of discovery, the expedition had been incredibly successful.
Cook had found 40 new islands.
He'd discovered that New Zealand was in fact two islands
and he'd mapped the east coast of Australia, claiming it for Britain.
Cook's voyage of discovery pretty much proved that the Great Southern Continent was a fantasy
and, crucially, he rewrote the map of the world.
These achievements were only possible because of Cook's particular style of leadership.
As one of his colleagues wrote, "He was cool and deliberate in judging,
"active in executing, unsubdued by difficulties and disappointments,
"mild, just and exact in discipline.
"He was a father to his people."
Cook would go on to make two more extraordinary voyages.
But it was this first journey aboard Endeavour that would make his name.
By the time of his death in 1779, Cook had become a legend.
He'd explored more of the planet than anyone else in history
and, for me, this naval nobody became one of the greatest explorers of all time.
# Captain Cook had a sailing ship
# Packet ship
# Sailing on a cruising trip In the South Pacific
# Cook found Venus through his glass Packet ship
# The men found Venus in the grass In the South Pacific
# Then they hits a coral reef Packet ship
# Caused a spot of grief In the South Pacific
# Sailed back to the old country Packet ship... #
What do you think of that?!
Explorer Paul Rose tells the story of one of the greatest ever sea adventures, which transformed Captain James Cook into a national hero and dramatically changed the course of history. Two and a half centuries later, Captain Cook is still a household name, but his achievements are often misunderstood, contrary to popular perception, he did not discover New Zealand and Australia. Intrepid Rose follows his journey down under and uncovers the real story of Captain Cook.