James Cook's log | State Library of New South Wales

James Cook's Endeavour log - the Mitchell copy

This copy of James Cook’s Endeavour log was made by his clerk, Richard Orton, during the voyage. It differs from the holograph log (Cook’s original, now held at the National Library of Australia) because Cook later substantially revised his own copy to include later thoughts and impressions or to add lengthy detail to original sketchy accounts. It is thought by some scholars that the Orton copy actually represents a truer version of Cook’s original log, as it is sticks closely to Cook’s first recorded impressions. Cook himself borrowed substantially from entries in Joseph Banks' Endeavour journal, particularly in descriptions relating to natural history and anthropological observations. Cook sent Orton’s copy of his log back to the Admiralty from Batavia (Jakarta), along with a letter describing the journey so far.

The log is almost entirely copied out by Richard Orton, although there are many instances where Cook himself has inserted words or phrases which Orton missed when copying from Cook’s original. Orton was not a very exact transcriber – he regularly deviated from Cook’s original phrasing, abbreviated or changed names and switched from singular to plural. 

Orton made another, more careful, copy after the Endeavour left Batavia which was presented to the Admiralty when the expedition returned to the UK and is now in the UK Public Record Office. This third known copy is held by the National Maritime Museum in Greenwich.

The selections below include Cook's description and naming of Botany Bay (originally named Sting Ray Harbour) and the raising of the British flag at Possession Island in the Torres Strait, Far North Queensland. Here Cook formally took possession of the whole east coast of Australia for King George III and called it New South Wales.  

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Selections from A Journal of the proceedings of His Majesty's Bark Endeavour on a voyage round the world, by Lieutenant James Cook, Commander, commencing the 25th of May 1768 - 23 Oct. 1770
Manuscript Safe 1/71


Cook, James  27 May 1768 – 23 Oct 1770  -  3430
[Page 1]

A Journal of the proceedings of His Majestys Bark Endeavour on a Voyage round the WORLD by lieutenant James Cook Commander commencing the 25th of May 1768

Book the First


[Page 2]

Note. all the  bearings & Courses mentioned in this Journal are the true bearings & courses and not by compass, and the Longitude is counted West. from the Meridian of Greenwich

Page 3]

1770  [indecipherable] [Side of page]

New Wales or East Coast of New Holland

[caper]able of producing any king of grain at present it produceth besides Tim[ber] as fine Meadow as ever was seen however we found it not all like this some few places were very rocky, but this I believe to be uncommon.  The stone is sandy & very proper for build.g &c. after we had sufficiently examined this part we returnd to the Boat, & seeing some Smoke & Canoe[s] at another part we went thither in hopes of meeting with the people but they made off as we approached, there were 6 Canoos & 6 small fires nea[r] the shore & Muscels roasting upon them & a few Oysters laying near from this we conjectured that those had been just 6 people who had been out each in his Canoe flicking up the shell fish & come ashore to eat them where each had made his fire to dress them by, we tasted of their cheer & left them in return strings of beads &c.  The day being now far spent we set o[ut] on our return to the Ship –

Friday 4   Winds Northerly sereen Wea r, upon my return to the Ship in th[e] evening I found that none of the Natives had appear’d near the Water  g [pla] but about 20 of them had been fishing in their Canoes at no great distan[ce] from us, In the AM as the Wind would not permit us to Sail I sent out so[me] parties into the country to try to form some connections with the Nati[ves] one of the Midshipmen met with a very old man & Woman & 2 small Child[ren] they were close to the Waterside where several more were in there Canoes gather [torn page] of Shell fish & he being alone was afraid to make any stay with the 2 old p [torn page] ple least he should be discover’d by those in the Canoes, he gave them a [torn page] he had Shott which they would not Touch neither did they speak one word but seem’d to be much frightned, they were quite Naked even the Women had nothing to cover her nuditie, Dr. Monkhouse & another Man being in the Woods not far from the water g place discover’d 6 more of t[he] Natives who at first seem’d to wait his coming, but as he was going up to them he had a dart thrown at him out of a Tree which narrowly escaped him, as soon as the fellow had thrown the dart he descended the Tree & made off & with him all the rest & these were all that were met within the Cour[se] of this day –

Saturday 5th  In the PM I went with a Party of Men over to the No Shore & while Some hands were hauling the Sean a Party of us made an Excursion of 3 [torn page ] 4 Miles into the Country or rather along the Sea Coast we met with nothing r[torn page] markable great part of the Country for some distance inland from the Sea Coa[st] is mostly a barren heath diversified with Marshes & Morasses, upon our re[torn page]

[Page 4]

turn to the Boat we found they had caught a great number of small fish w.ch the sailors call leather Jackets on acco.t of their having a very thick skin they are known in the W t Indies, I had sent the Yawl on the morning to fish for <u>Stingrays</u> who return’d in the Evening with upwards of four hund.d weigh [torn page] one Single one weighed 240 Exclusive of the intrails, In the AM as the wind continued Northerly I sent the Yawl again a fishing & I went with a party of Men into the Country but met with nothing extraordinary –

In the evening the Yawl returned from fishing having caught 2 Stingrays weighing near 600 t.   The great quantity of Plants Mr. Banks & Dr. Solander found in this place occasioned my giving it the Name of <u>Botteny</u>  <u>Bay,</u> it is situated in the Lat.de of 34.’0 So. Long.de 208:37 W.t it is Capaceous safe & Commodious it may be known by the land on the Sea Coast which is of pretty even & mod.te Length  Rather higher than it is inland with steep rocky Cliffs next the Sea & looks like a long Island lying close under the Shore, the Entrance of the <strike>Harbour</strike> Bay  lies ab.t the Middle of this land; in coming from the Southw.d it is discover’d before you are abreast of it, which you cannot do in coming from the Northward, the entrance is little more than a Quarter of a Mile broad & lies  in WNW.d  To sail into it keep the S [torn page] shore on board until within a Small bare Island which lies close under the N.o Shore being within  that Island the deepest of  Water is on that side 7. 6 & 5 fa.m a good way up there is Shoals Water a good way off from the So Shore from the inner  So Point quite to the head of the harbour but over towards the N.o & NW Shore is a Channell of 12 or 14 feet, at low Water, 3 or 4 Leag.s up to a place where there is 3 & 4  fm. but there I found very little fresh Water, we Anchor’d near the South Shore about a Mile or [torn page] in the Entrance for the Convenience of Sailing with a Southerly wind & the getting of Fresh Water but I afterwards found a very fine stream of fresh Water on the No Shore in the first sandy Cove within the Island before which a Ship might lay almost land locked & wood for fuel may be got every where altho; wood is here in great plenty yet there is very little Variety the bigest trees are as large or larger than our Oaks in England & grows a good deal like them & yields a redish Gum the wood itself, is heavy hard & black like Lignum Vitae, another sort that grows tall & strait something like Pines, the wood of [indecipherable] something of the Nature of America like Oak, these 2 are all the Timber trees I met with there are a few sorts of Shrubs & several Palm Trees, & Mangroves about the Head of the Harbour, the Country is woody low &amp flat as far in as we could see & I believe that the Soil is on general sandy in the Wood are a variety of very beautiful birds such as Cocatoos Lorryquets Parrots & crows Exactly like those we have in England, Water fowl is no less plenty about the head of the Harb

[Page 5]

Harbour where there is large flats of sand & Mud on which they seek their food the mo[torn page] of these were unknown to us once but especially which was black & white & large as a Goose but most like a Pelican, on the sand & Mud banks are Oysters, Muscles, Cockles & which I believe are the Chief support of the inhabitants who go into Shoald Water with their little Canoes, & pick them out of the sand & Mud with their hands [indecipherable] times roast [torn page] [indecipherable] them in the Canoo having often a fire for that purpose as I suppose for I know [torn page] other it can be  [indecipherable]  appear to be numerous neither do they seem to live in large bodies but dispers’d in small parties along by the Water sides those I sa[w] were about as tall as Europeans of a very dark brown Colour but not black, nor [torn page] they woolly frizzled hair but black & lank like ours, no sort of Cloathing or Ornam.ts were ever seen by any of us upon any one of them, or in or about any of their [indecipherable] from which I conclude that they never wear any, some that we saw had their face & bodies painted with a sort of White paint or Pigmont altho’ I have said that shell fish is their Chief support, yet they catch other sorts of fish some of which we found roasting on the fire the first time we landed, some of these they strike with Gigs & others they Catch with hook & line, we have seen them strike fish with gigs & hooks & lines are found in their Hutts, Stingrays I believe they do not eat because I never saw the least remains of one near any of their Hutts or Fire Places.  However we could know but very little their Customs as we never were able to form any connection with them, they had not so much as touch’d the things we had left in their Hutts on purpose for them to take away during our stay in the Harbour [torn page] caused the English Coulours to be display’d ashore every day & an inscription to  [torn page] cut out upon one of the Trees near the Watering place setting forth the Ship Name, Date & having seen

Port Jackson [side of page]

everything this place afforded we at day light on the morning weigh’d with a light breeze at NW.d & put to Sea & the wind soon [torn page] coming to the Souther’d we steer’d along shore NNE.t & at Noon we were by observation in the Lat.de of 33”:50’ S.o about 2 or 3 Miles from the Land & abreast of a Bay wherein there appears to be Anchorage which I alled <u>Port Jackson</u>.  Steer 3 Leag.s to the Northw.d of <u>Moreton Bay</u>.  I had almost forgot to mention that  [torn page] is high water in the bay at the full & Change of the Moon  about 8’ of line & rises [&] falls upon  a Perpendicular about 4 or 5 feet –

Little wind Southerly & Serean pleasant Weather.  In the PM found the Var.n by sev.l Azim.ths to be 8º E.t  at sun set the Northerm.t   land in sigh[t] bore N.º 26 Et. & some broken land that appear’d to form a bay Ea t No. 40W.d dist. 4 lgs

[side of page]   Broken Bay

this Bay I named <u>Broken bay</u> Lat.de 33º: ’36 So. we ster’d along Shore NN[E] all night at the distance of ab.t 3 Leagues from the land having from

[Page 6]

Aug [indecipherable] 1770

between which & the Main their appear’d to be a good Passage thro’ which we might pa[ss] by running to Seaward of the Shoals on our Larboard bow which was now [indecipherable] near us, whereupon we wore & bro.t too I sent away the Pinnace & Yawl to direct us clear of the Shoals & then stood after them having got round the SE t point of the sho[torn page] we steer.d NW along the SW or inside of it , keeping a good look out at the Mast head having another Shoal on our Larboard side, but we found a good Channel of  [torn page] Mile broad between them wherein were from 10 to 14 fa.ms  At 11 o’clock being nearly the length of the Islands abovementioned & designing to pass between them & the Main, the Yawl being thrown a stern by falling in upon a part of the Shoal she could not get over we bro.t the ship too & sent away the Long [torn page] which we had astern & rigg’d to keep in Shore upon our Larboard bow & the Pinnace on our Starboard for altho’ there  appear’d nothing in the Passage yet I thought  it necessary to take this method because we had a strong flood which carried us on end very fast, & it did not want much of high water,  as soon as the Boats were ahead we stood after them & got through by noon at which time we were by observation in the Lat of 16:36: 30 S.e the nearest part of the Main & which we soon after found to be the Northermost  bore W.st southerly distant 3 or 4 Miles, the Islands which form’d the Passage before mentione’d extending from N.o to N 75ºEt dist.t 2 or 3 Miles at the sametime we saw Islands at a good distance off extending from NbW to WNW & behind them another Chain of high Sand which we like wise judged to be Islands, the Mainland we thought had extended as far a Nº7 [torn page] W.t but this we found to be Islands the Point of the Main

York Cape [side of page]

which forms one side of the Passage before mentioned & which is the Northern Promontary of this Country I have named <u>York Cape</u> in honour of his late  Royal Highness the Duke of York.  it lies in the Long.de of 218.º .24’ W.t the N. point in the Lat.de of 10’ 37 So. & the E.t point in 10º 9’  The land over & to the Southward of this last Point is rather low & very flatt as far inland as the Eye could reach & looks barren; to the Southward of the Cape the Shore forms a large open bay which I called Newcastle bay wherein are some small

Newcastle Bay [ side of page]

low Islands & Shoal & the land all about it is very low flatt & sandy, the  [indecipherable] on the Northern part of the Cape is rather more hilly & the shore forms some small bays wherein there appear’d to be good Anchorage & the Vallies appear to be tolerably well Cloathed with wood, close to the E Point of the Cape are 3 Sma[torn page] Islands & a small Ledge of rocks spitting off from one of them, there is also an Island laying close to the N.o Point, the other Islands before spoke off lay about 4 Miles without these, only two of them are of any extent the Southerm.st is the largest & much higher than any part of the Mainland,

[Page 7]

Aug.st 1770

on the NW. side of this Island seem’d to be good Anchorage & Vallies that to all appearance would afford both wood & fresh Water, These Isles are know in the Chart by the Name of <u>York Isles, </u> to the Southward & SE.t of them & even to the Eastw.d & Northward are several  low Islands rocks & Shoals, our depth of Water in Sailing between them & the Main was 12.’13 & 14 fams –

Wednesday 22 d   Gentle breezes at EbS. & clear wea,r we had not steer’d above 3 or 4 miles along shore to the westw.d before we discover’d land ahead to Isl.ds detached by several Channels from the mainland upon this we bro. too to Wait for the Yawl, & called the other Boats on board & after giving them proper instructions sent them away again to lead us thro’ the Channell next the  Main & as soon as the Yawl was onboard made sail after them with the Ship; soon after we discover’d rocks & Shoals in this Channell upon which I made the Signal for the boats to lead thro’ the next Channel to the Northward laying between the Islands which they accordingly did we following with the Ship & had not less than 5 fa.am & this in the narrowest part of the Channell which was about a Mile & a half broad from Island to Island at 4 o’Clock we Anchor’d about a Mile &a ½  or 2 Mile within the Entrance in 6 ½ fa.m clear ground distant from the Islands on each side of us one Mile, the Mainland extending away to

Endeavour Straits [side of page]

the NW.d the farthest point of which we could see bore from us So 48º W.d & the Southerm.st point of the Islands on the NW. side of the Passage bore So 76º W.d  betw.n these 2 points we could see no land so that we were in great hopes that we had at last found out a Passage into the Indian seas, but in order to be better informed I landed with a Party of Men accompanied by Mr. Banks & Dr Solander upon the Island which lies at the SEt point of the Passage, before & after we anchor/d we saw a Number of People upon this Island  Arm’d in the same manner as att the others we have seen Except one man who had a bow & a bunch of Arrows the first we have seen upon this Coast, from the Appearance of these people we expected that they would have opposed our landing but as we approached the shore they all made off & left us in peaceable possession of as much of the Island as served our Purpose.  After landing I went upon the highest hill which however was of no great height yet not less than twice or three thrice the heighth of the
Ships Mast heads but I could see from it no land between SW & WSW.d so that I did not doubt but there was a passage I could see plainly that the lands laying to the NW.d of this Passage were comps’d of a number of Islands of Various extent both for height & Circuit ranged one behind another as far to the Northward and Westward as I could see which could not be less than 12 or 14 Leagues, Having satisfied myself of the great Probability of a Passage thro’ which I intend

[Page 8]

Aug [indecipherable] 1770

going with the Ship & therefore may land no more upon this Eastern coast of <u>New Holland</u> & on the Western side I can make no new discovery  the honour of which belongs to the Dutch Navigators but the Eastern Coast from the Lat of 98ºSo. down to this place I am confident was never

Take Possession of the Country [Side of page]

seen or Visited by any  European before us & notwithstanding I had in the Name of his Maj.st taken possession of several places upon this Coast I now once More, hoisted English Colours & in the Name of His Maj.y  King George the Third took possession of the whole Eastern coast from the above Lat.de down to this place by the Name of <u>New Wales</u> together with all the Bays Harbours Rivers & Islands situate upon the same Coast after which we fird 3 Volleys of small Arms which was answer’d by the like number from the Ship, this done we set out for the Ship but were sometime in getting on board on acco.t of a very Rapid Ebb Tide which  set NE out of the Passage ever since we came in among the Shoals this last time we have found a Mod.te Tide the flood setting to the NW & Ebb to the SE.t at this place it is high water at the full & Change of the Moon about  1 or 2 o’Clock & riseth & falls upon a perpendicular about 10 or 12 feet  We saw upon all the Adjacent lands & Islands a great number of smokes a certain sign that they are inhabited & we have daily seen smokes on every part of the Coast we have lately been upon – Between 7 & 8 o’Clock AM we saw several naked People all or most of them Women down upon the beach picking up Shells &c; they had not a single rag of any kind of Cloathing upon them & both these & those we saw yesterday were in every respect the same sort of People we have seen every where upon the Coast.  2 or 3 of the Men we saw Yesterday had on pretty large breast plates which we supposed were made of Pear Oyster Shells, this was a thing as well as the Bow & Arrows we had not seen before -  At low water which hapned about 10 o’Clock we got under sail & stood to the SW.t with a light breeze at last which afterwards veer’d to NbEt having the Pinnace ahead depth of Water from 6 to 10 fa.m except in one place were we passed over a Bank of 5 fa.m at Noon Possession Island at the S Ed entrance of the Passage bore N.d 53 East dist.d 4  Leagues the Western extream of the Mainland in sight bore So 43W.d dist d 4 or 5 Leag.es being all exceeding low.  The SW.d pointy of the largest Island on the NW.d side of the Passage

C. Cornwell [side of page]

 bore Nº 71 W.d distant 8 Miles this point I named <u>Cape Cornwall </u> Latitude 10:43 So Longitude 218º- 59’W & some low Islands laying about the Middle of the Passage which I called <u>Wallice’s</u> Isles bore  WbS ½ So distance about 2 Leagues, our Latitude by observation was 10º. 46’ So –

In the PM had little wind & Variable with which & the Tide of Flood