Five unmissable stories from Endeavour Voyage

Five unmissable stories from Endeavour Voyage

Endeavour Voyage: The Untold Stories of Cook and the First Australians at the National Museum of Australia, takes you on a journey, travelling onboard the ship with Cook and for the first time hearing the stories from those on the shore, Australia’s First Peoples. The exhibition provides an in-depth analysis into Australia’s history and shines a light on the voices previously missing from the Endeavour story.

Entry is free and bookings for timed sessions are essential.

Here are five unmissable stories that shine a light on the Endeavour story. 

  1. 1

    James Cook's Journal

    One of the most historical objects is James Cook's journal (1768-1771) which provides his daily account of the Endeavour's voyage. It is remarkable to see an on-the-spot record of what he saw and what he was thinking written in his ornate handwriting. During a lengthy sea voyage, the captain of a naval ship would regularly send a copy of the ship’s journal back to the Admiralty in London. The first opportunity Cook had to send back his ship’s journal was from Batavia (Jakarta) in October 1770, more than two years into the Endeavour’s voyage

  2. 2


    A dramatic waterspout installation introduces visitors to the exhibition which has been developed in close collaboration with nine Indigenous communities along Australia's east coast, whose ancestors encountered the Endeavour. On the same day they first saw the Australian coastline, James Cook and HMB Endeavour's crew observed three waterspouts coming down from the sky and stood between the ship and the land. For those on the ship this was a rare and curious event. For those on the shore it was an omen, a warning.

  3. 3


    Three of the 50 fishing spears that James Cook and Joseph Banks confiscated from Kamay (Botany Bay) in 1770 are display alongside a collection of contemporary spears made by the Dharawal people. At the end of the exhibition the spears will go on long term loan to the State Library of NSW where they will be part of a program with the Kamay/La Perouse Indigenous community.

  4. 4

    Alison Page Film

    Alison Page’s short film The Message: The Story from the Shore features descendants of Indigenous people who witnessed Cook’s passage up the east coast and powerfully reimagines the message of the ship’s arrival being passed up the coast line.

  5. 5


    Turtles were at the heart of a dispute that occurred between local people and the voyagers a month into their stay at Endeavour River (Waalumbaal Birri) near Cooktown and inspired these indigenous artworks. When Cook’s crew broke protocols around catching turtles, there was conflict with local Guugu Yimidhirr people. The conflict ended in a powerful moment of reconciliation between an Elder and James Cook.


Be among the first to discover the latest and greatest things to see and do, taste and try, explore and experience in Canberra by signing up to our newsletter.