Discoveries shaped by a wooden ship
A free public lecture in Cairns this Friday (15 June) will examine the influence of the Endeavour on James Cook’s first Pacific voyage.
The Physical Endeavour: How a Wooden Ship Shaped Cook’s First Voyage will be presented by James Cook University historian Dr Claire Brennan.
“The course of Cook’s voyage was, in part, decided by his ship,” Dr Brennan said.
“The Endeavour proved both her fragility and her endurance during her run-in with the Great Barrier Reef, requiring extensive repairs but ultimately surviving to complete her voyage round the world.”
As a result of that accident some of the voyage’s most detailed biological observations took place while Cook and his crew were stranded in the Australian tropics, repairing their ship near what is now Cooktown.
“This was not the only time during Cook’s voyage that his ship decided this course of action,” Dr Brennan said.
“He was at times blown off course, at others he had to stop for water and supplies. Generally when the sailing was bad, the science of the voyage was at its best because the scientists actually got a chance to look around.”
“The Endeavour was a complete wooden world,” Dr Brennan said. “She was at the mercy of winds and reefs, but she was also a Royal Navy Ship. As a result Cook had to fit his voyage around her needs, but he also had men, stores and guns at his command. When we look closely at Cook’s journal we can see that the voyage belonged to his ship as well as to him.”
Dr Brennan’s lecture is the third in a series, linked to last week’s transit of Venus, the phenomenon James Cook was sent to Tahiti to observe in 1769, before continuing his journey and charting the east coast of Australia.
Later lectures in the series will examine the role of science in the expansion of British settlement, and Queensland’s role in an attempt to observe the 1882 transit.
Dr Brennan’s lecture will be held on Friday 15 June in the Crowther Theatre at James Cook University in Smithfield.
Refreshments will be served from 6.00pm and the lecture will begin at 6.30pm. Admission is free and all are welcome.
Issued June 13, 2012
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