16°52’00” South 145°54’29” East
Joseph Banks, 8 June 1770:
In the morn we passd within of a mile of a small Islet or rock on which we saw with our glasses about 30 men women and children standing all together and looking attentively at us, the first people we have seen shew any signs of curiosity at the sight of the ship.
Yarrabah is an Indigenous community located 55 kilometres east of Cairns, in Far North Queensland. On an evening in early June 1770, the Endeavour briefly anchored in what is now called Mission Bay. James Cook had no luck finding accessible fresh water but Joseph Banks and Daniel Solander added to their extensive collection of plants.
Cook and the crew did not document any significant encounters with local Gunggandji people, the locals say that the Endeavour’s visit was recorded in nearby rock art.
James Cook, 9 June 1770:
The point of land we were now abreast off I call'd Cape Grafton ... In the night we saw several fires along shore and a little before noon some people.
White devil spirits
Kurt Kynuna, Yarrabah, 2019:
We were thinking, what would our people have thought about Cook and his crew? They would have seen Cook and his crew as white devil spirits. That's what we decided to make.
In 2019 a group of artists from Yarrabah responded to the 250th anniversary of the Endeavour voyage by representing Cook and his crew as white devil spirits — evocative sculptures made from shell, bone and rainforest driftwood.
The Yarrabah artists talked at length about what Cook and the Endeavour voyage might have meant to their ancestors, who would have seen the ship coming, and what the visit meant to them now.
The artists then combed the beach for interesting pieces of driftwood that had been washed down from the rainforest, and other materials collected from the shoreline the Endeavour sailed past all those years ago.
These artists are descendants of those people who were on the shore in 1770. These artworks tell their side of the story. They see Cook and his crew as skeletal, ghostly figures.
Some of these works are on show in the Endeavour Voyage exhibition.
Stanley Giyiingarra Connolly
Peter Davidson and Blake Davidson
The National Museum thanks the Indigenous Art Centre Alliance and Edwina Circuitt for assistance with the Yarrabah art workshop.
Joseph Banks, 9 June 1770:
The countrey was hilly and very stony affording nothing but fresh water, at least that we found, except a few Plants that we had not before met with.
One of the plants that Banks had not seen before was the hop bush (Dodonaea polyandra). This small bush has dense, long, narrow green leaves and small red flowers.
While on the ship, artist Sydney Parkinson drew an outline drawing of the plant specimens collected by Banks. The drawing remained incomplete as Parkinson died before the Endeavour reached England. A final watercolour was completed in 1775 by Frederick Miller.
These resources cater for students in Years 3 to 6 and all activities align with the Australian Curriculum. Years 3 and 4 align with the history content and Years 3 to 6 align with the cross-curriculum priority of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Histories and Cultures.