We are updating our new website in stages. This page will be changed to the new design but is not currently optimised for mobile devices.
Six of our guns ... our iron and stone ballast, casts, hoop staves, oil jars, decayed stores, and many other things that lay in the way of heavier materials ... are thrown overboard with the utmost expedition.
James Cook, journal, 11 June 1770
This is one of the six Endeavour cannons recovered from the ocean floor in 1969.
Photo: Australian National Maritime Museum.
On 10 June 1770, HMB Endeavour under the command of Captain James Cook was sailing north along the east coast of Australia. At 11 pm, it struck a reef and started taking in water. Desperate to lighten the ship, the crew heaved nearly 48 tonnes of material over the side, including ballast and cannons. Twenty-three hours later, at the next high tide, the Endeavour pulled free. Six weeks were spent repairing the ship at what became known as Endeavour River in Queensland.
Endeavour's ballast and cannons were found, encased in coral, on the ocean floor off Queensland in 1969.
This iron ballast pig from HMB Endeavour was recovered from the ocean floor in 1969. Photo: George Serras.
Prime Minister John Gorton presents recovered Endeavour cannons to the governments of Britain, New Zealand, New South Wales, Queensland and the Commonwealth of Australia, and to the Philadelphia Academy of Natural Sciences. Courtesy: National Archives of Australia, A1200 L86357.
This 1794 painting shows the crew of HMB Endeavour in longboats attempting to pull the ship free from the reef. By Samuel Atkins. Courtesy: National Library of Australia, nla.pic-an5921609.
Cook's chart of the Endeavour River. Courtesy: National Library of Australia, nla.pic-an9537993.