American Marine Scientists have discovered the remains of the Endeavour, the fine old ship sailed by Captain James Cook on his voyage of discovery along the Eastern Seaboard of Australia in 1770.
It lies at the bottom of the harbour at Newport, Rhode Island, where it was scuttled during the American War of Independence long after Cook had died on his third world voyage.
My hope is that the remnants of the Endeavour can be brought Australia and placed in a new Museum which can be built at Cooktown. There, it can become part of an international study centre on the enormous impact it had on life on the Australian continent, changing forever the proud heritage of 65000 years of indigenous habitation.
Sadly, we are now at a time in Australian history where an influential minority are demonising James Cook, accusing him of being the originator of every social and economic problem that Indigenous Australians have faced, and will face, into an uncertain future.
However, I am one who seeks to differ quite passionately, but courteously.
Let us look objectively at what Cook and the Endeavour actually did.
Firstly, he was sent out here on the direct orders of the King of England to find the Great South Land and formally claim it for England. He carried out his instructions to the letter and did it with great skill and determination. Indeed, it was one of the great feats of exploration in world history.
His modern critics say that he made no effort to negotiate with the indigenous people whom he encountered on his voyage before he ‘arrogantly’ claimed the land for the King.
This is true. He did not negotiate, but he did report to the King that the land was occupied. He made no attempt to claim that this was an empty continent.
But, we now know that there was no Aboriginal nation to negotiate with. There were hundreds of tribes and dialects which would have presented a nigh impossible negotiating situation.
So, let us stop denigrating James Cook or try to claim that the Endeavour had no right to come here. After all, the Dutch and French had turned up around the same time with the same intent. One European nation or another was destined to take the Great South Land.
The facts before us now are these.
The British King, not Cook, made the decision to invade Australia and set up a penal colony at Botany Bay.
The British settlers stole the finest land and its food supply from the indigenous people, directly killing 30,000 of them in doing so. It was not the proudest moment in British history.
Ever since then, Australian Governments have made a ridiculous hash of making peace with the original inhabitants, throwing money at them when this was never going to solve the problem.
And, indigenous people have shown great bitterness about being deprived of their ancient lands despite the fact that none of the subsequent white Australians were responsible for their problems. They too inherited the results of history and can justly claim that they did not create the tragedy, yet are suffering also from its legacies.
So, where do we go from here.
I do not believe that a European Australian has yet been born who can solve this immense issue. It is simply huge.
Similarly, I do not believe that an Indigenous Australian has yet been born who has the stature and skill to achieve a solution either.
Nevertheless, the attempt must be made.
A Treaty does not appear to be a solution as there is no such thing as a Treaty between people who are citizens of the same nation.
And an Aboriginal Parliament gives the clear impression of being a cosmetic activity that is like a band aid on a huge wound. It would simply be legally unworkable.
Perhaps we can look once more at the Endeavour for a solution.
This sturdy ship went around the world with safety and achievement because it had a skilled captain who was a superb leader with an extraordinary ability to weld together a strong and able team who had one goal, ie, to carry out their orders and get home safely.
So, Australia must be like the Endeavour. It must be a stable entity with a fine leader who can weld a team together and change the nation into one solid entity.
Sometime in the next generation, we need to find an extraordinary leader who is acceptable to both sides.
I hold the view that it can only be an indigenous person, someone of the charisma of Barrack Obama, and most probably female.
Then, let us forget about black and white and be proud Australians in a proud land where everyone gets a fair go.
I reckon that the return of the Endeavour to Australia will be the starting point in achieving this.
Yours at Large
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