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The Australian Outback: The History and Mythology of the Land Down Under

The Australian Outback: The History and Mythology of the Land Down Under

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The Australian Outback: The History and Mythology of the Land Down Under

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623 pagine
6 ore
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Pubblicato:
Jul 17, 2014
ISBN:
9789198191622
Formato:
Libro

Descrizione

Take a journey through space and time to discover the history, exploration, culture, traditions, myths and lifestyle of the Australian Outback from pre-history to tomorrow.
Editore:
Pubblicato:
Jul 17, 2014
ISBN:
9789198191622
Formato:
Libro

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Anteprima del libro

The Australian Outback - Robin Bell

2004

Chapter One: - The Dreamtime and Creation

Australian Aborigines have a very rich oral tradition; their most cherished stories focus on creation and the beginning of time. Known as the Aboriginal Dreamtime, the tale contains many parts, ranging from how the world came to be and how humans were created, to how we as people should function within the universe. The Dreamtime is the foundation of the Aboriginal society and culture.

Traditionally, Aborigines believe that the earth and sky have always existed and was home to many supernatural beings. According to the Dreamtime (or Creation) stories, at the beginning of time the Earth was a desolate plain, and the sun and moon still slept under Earth’s cold surface. Underground slept thousands of dormant supernatural beings along with masses of half-developed human infants*.

In the Aboriginal view of the world, every event leaves a vibrational record at the location where the event occurred. The shape of the land, the rocks, rivers, and waterholes all echo these vibrations. In extraordinary states of consciousness, the Aborigines believe it is possible to tune in to these vibrational residues and become aware of the inner dreaming of the earth*.

According to one version of the Dreamtime, Aboriginal time began when these dormant supernatural beings awoke and broke through the surface, bringing the sun and moon with them. These beings varied greatly in shape and form – some were animals or birds, such as kangaroos and emus, while others took human shape. All were linked so that those who chose animal form thought and acted like humans, while those who chose human form could shapeshift at will into animals. These beings’ physical movements then created the features of Earth’s landscape. Mountains, plains and rivers were later commemorated in sacred songs, forming the core of the sacred myths and ceremonies of contemporary Aboriginal religious beliefs.

As the beings roamed the planet, many became tired and fell back into the earth, often into the sites from where they first emerged. Others changed into physical objects such as rocks or trees. These latter places are regarded as sacred, which can only be approached by initiated Aboriginal men. Those beings that had become the sun, the moon, and other celestial objects rose into the sky. Only the humans, who had emerged with the supernatural beings from underground, were left to wander the surface of the planet*.

There can be many variations on this legend, depending on the tribe and locality that they inhabited. One version tells that at the end of the creative phase of the supernatural beings, they left the earth; some to go up to the skies to become heavenly bodies; some turned into rocks or went back to the earth, sometimes leaving the imprint of their bodies in the form of rock paintings; others went into water holes or creeks. The places to which they retreated – usually prominent features of the landscape – are regarded as sacred places in which the creative force of the Dreamtime is present*.

Another Dreamtime story deals with the origin of the sun. The tale tells of a cloud man, Ngoudenout, who lived in the sky. Once, two men were fighting and one hurled an emu egg into the sky. The egg was flung with such force that it hit a large pile of wood that Ngoudenout had gathered and caused the wood to catch fire. At first, the wood burned slowly and turned the sky from gray to pink. Gradually the fire intensified until at noon it was burning fiercely; it then slowly began to die down, and eventually the sky returned to the cold black night. When Ngoudenout saw how the burning wood shone its light on the earth, he decided that humans should have this fire for all-time. Each night he goes to the forests to collect a pile of wood, which he lights every morning. The wood burns slowly in the morning, blazes until noon, then dies down as nighttime descends*.

Similar to other cultures, Aborigines have a legend associated with a great flood. The Aboriginal story tells of a time when a great drought affected the land. All the animals of the deserts and mountains gathered in the center of Australia to determine the cause of the dried rivers and lakes. There, they learned that a giant frog had swallowed all the water in the land. After much discussion, the animals decided the only way to return the water was to make the great frog laugh. They reasoned this would allow the waters to flow from the frog’s giant stomach and revive the rivers and lakes.

The kookaburra was the first to try. Beginning deep down in his throat, he produced a chuckle and then a full-fledged laugh, until all the trees and rocks shook with the force of his laughter. But the frog remained still and silent. Then the frill-necked lizard took a turn. He opened his mouth as far as he could, causing the frill around his neck to expand and stretch around his head, He strutted up and down in front of the great frog, but still there was not even a twinkle in the animal’s eyes.

Other creatures attempted to make the great frog laugh, but to no avail. The group was near despair when a giant eel said he would try. The other animals did not think much of his chances after all the others had failed, but agreed. The eel began to wriggle in front of the great frog; slowly at first, then faster and faster, until his head and tail met forming a circle. He twirled until he was just a blur in front of the great frog. He then slowed and flopped around on the desert floor like a grub that had fallen on an ant’s nest.

The eel looked so silly and pathetic to the great frog that he could not contain himself and began to shake and quiver. An enormous laugh rumbled from inside him. Suddenly, the great frog opened his mouth and all the waters of the earth he had swallowed came rushing out. The waters filled the rivers and streams and rose to almost the highest mountain peaks. Sadly, many men and animals drowned, but the Earth was saved thanks to the eel*.

In exploring these stories, we can see that the Aboriginal oral tradition recalls times of great change – changes in the climate to the rising and falling of the seas. For the Aboriginal people, the ancient spirits and their powers have not disappeared. They remain in the hills, rocks, rivers, and waterholes of their sacred sites even today. Everything that they see about them is reminiscent of their creation and proof of the authenticity of the ancient stories*. In the words of Mandawuy Yunupingu, lead singer with the band Yothu Yindi, Well, I am quite content of what I got already, you know. My riches is my heart. Where I come from. Cause the land, mother earth, the country, the people, the history, the religion, the song lines, everything like that, it is the riches that I've already inherited from my ancestors.

As we shall see when we look at the future of the Outback towards the end of this book, the association of the Aboriginal people with the land is under threat from mining, exploitation and even tourists wishing to see for themselves the raw beauty of the Outback.

While the Aboriginal Dreamtime tells one version of the formation of the land, traditional Western science has another view. Most scientists agree that the Earth was formed between 4,500 and 5,000 million years ago. As the surface of the earth cooled and began to form a solid crust, large landmasses floated on a bed of molten rock and lava. During the Carboniferous time period (between 345 and 280 million years ago), all these landmasses coalesced into the super-continent which we now call Pangaea. Toward the end of the Triassic period (between 230 and 190 million years ago) this mass began to break up into two smaller landmasses: Laurasia in the Northern Hemisphere and Gondwana in the south*.

Australia was once part of this great southern super-continent, sometimes called the Southern Ark, which existed for hundreds of millions of years. Gondwana included Australia, Antarctica, Africa, South America and India. The climate was wet and warm without polar ice; some vegetation existed, mainly consisting of simple conifers, ferns and cycads. Much of this fauna exists today in the tropical rainforest regions of far north Queensland. Between 150 and 65 million years ago, Gondwana began to separate under the tremendous force of the movements of the earth’s crust. There was a sudden cooling and widespread sea flooding, but approximately 90 million years ago the climate again warmed and the first flowering plants evolved in western Gondwana.

One by one, the present southern continents drifted away from the dwindling Gondwana; first Africa and South America to the west, then India to the north. When India collided with Asia, the extraordinary force of the collision formed the Himalayas. Approximately 45 million years ago, Australia and Antarctica were the last two continents to separate. No longer connected by land bridges to the rest of the world, unique flora and fauna developed on this new continent. As Australia continued to move north at a rate of six to seven centimeters each year, climatic changes affected the development of life on the continent*.

Fossil records indicate that at the time of final separation from Antarctica, much of Australia was covered with heavy, broad-leaf trees. Remnants of these forests can still be found in the moist, tropical regions of north-eastern Australia and Papua New Guinea. As the polar ice caps formed, there was a corresponding drying out of the mid-latitudes of Australia. The plants of the continent’s center evolved gradually from forest to woodland, to scrubland and finally to the grasslands and deserts that we see today. Australia has, over time, become the driest vegetated landmass on Earth*.

Because it was once part of the first super-continent, Australia contains relics from all stages of our planet’s history. The oldest rocks are from the Precambrian era (2500 million years ago), and are found in the west of the continent, in the center and to the north of Australia. Much of the surface is covered by sedimentary sandstone, laid down between 57 and 65 million years ago. This is the source of the great deserts of the Red Centre and Western Australia, such as the Gibson Desert, the Simpson Desert and the Great Sandy Desert, deserts that provide the backdrop to some of the most tragic and courageous stories of early European exploration*.

Arguably the most well known feature of the Red Center is Uluru, previously called Ayers’ Rock in 1873 by explorer William Gosse, named after Henry Ayers, who was then Governor of South Australia. The largest monolith in the world, Uluru rises 348 metres or almost nine hundred feet above the surrounding plains and is nearly 9 kilometres around its base. Some 30 kilometres west of Uluru are the Olgas, which so impressed the explorer Ernest Giles. The name comes from the Aboriginal Kata Tjuta, meaning many heads, which is an appropriate description of the group of rocky domes, of which the massive outcrop of Mount Olga is the tallest*.

Beneath the extensive sandstone sedimentary rocks, in some places there are deposits of limestone, which often contain large and beautiful caves. Some of these are well known, such as those in New South Wales including Jenolan Caves, Wombeyan Caves and Abercrombie Caves, while others, such as those beneath the Nullarbor Plain are visited only by keen spelunkers. The Nullarbor Plain is the world’s biggest single limestone deposit, covering over 250,000 square kilometers. The limestone that comprises the vast Nullarbor Plain was formed approximately 50 million years ago, about the same time that Australia was breaking away from Antarctica. As the continent tilted slightly, and the Nullarbor Plain became part of the sea bed, where marine organisms deposited their skeletons over 20 million years ago, eventually forming a crust of limestone up to 300 meters thick. With the coming of the ice age, the seas receded leaving the Nullarbor Plain both high and dry. This process was repeated about 20 million years ago, and the end result can be viewed in the colored striations in the towering Bunda Cliffs. Over the last 10 million years, the Nullarbor had its final sculpting as rains trickled down through the porous rock, dissolving the limestone to form a labyrinth of underground caves, flooded chambers, sinkholes and blowholes. It was over this vast plain that both Eyre and Giles struggled as they crossed from east to west, not knowing of the water lying out of reach and out of sight under the surface*.

Another prominent geological feature is The Great Dividing Range, the mountain ridge which runs down the east coast of Australia. As we shall see, this was for many years a formidable barrier to the exploration of the inland, until Blaxland, Lawson and Wentworth trekked over the rocky outcrops down to the western plains of New South Wales beyond.

One source of Australia’s wealth is its valuable mineral resources, much of which has been heavily mined. Huge coal deposits were formed from the once-lush rain forests, particularly around Newcastle and Wollongong, north and south respectively of Sydney. Other mines produce bauxite (aluminum ore), iron ore and uranium. Gold and silver are also found in selected areas, but Australia is probably most famous for its opals, producing ninety percent of the world’s supply, mainly from Coober Pedy in the Red Center, which takes its name from the Aboriginal words kupa piti which mean white mans hole. Many of the inhabitants of this Outback town live underground in old mines, to escape the scorching summer temperatures which can reach up to over one hundred and twenty degrees Fahrenheit*.

Chapter Two - Discovery

There is considerable discussion about how long humans have inhabited Australia, and from where the first people came. Stone-age implements have been found in central western New South Wales, as well as in southern and far northern Queensland. These tools, including hand axes, clubs and knives, weigh up to thirty-six pounds and are identical to those used by the Java man Gigantopithecus, who inhabited Southeast Asia half a million years ago*.

Rex Gilroy, an amateur scientist, conducted an investigation into the former course of the Macquarie River, near Bathurst, New South Wales. During his explorations, a lower back molar tooth was excavated which ".. was identical to other examples recovered from Java, China and Africa and which belonged to the Gigantopithecus, who lived half a million years ago; the primitive supposed ape-like creature said to have been thirteen feet tall, and which, since it’s initial discovery from a single molar recovered by the Dutch paleontologist, Ralph von Koenigswald in China in 1934, has caused considerable controversy.*" At the same site, a hand axe weighing twenty-five pounds was discovered. Although now extinct, Gigantopithecus lives on in legend, similar to the Yeti of the Himalayas. We shall explore this creature further in Chapter Fifteen when we look at Australian Myths and Legends.

Rock engravings in the Kimberley region in the far north east of Western Australia indicate that Aboriginals may have inhabited Australia for more than 40,000 years, and that they may have arrived by sea from countries to the north of the continent*. However, the man seen as the pioneer in the study of Australian pre-history, Professor John Mulvaney, in a radio interview in 1999, stated that …By 1973 there were dates that made it quite clear that people had been here for over 30,000 years and the maximum range for radio-carbon dating is 30,000 to 40,000, and by the mid seventies we had several sites that were at that sort of age*.

Mounting evidence of Australian settlement in 2000 to 3000 BC by Middle East explorers has been discovered by archeologists over the years. In Toowoomba in Queensland, a group of seventeen inscribed granite stones have been found, one of which has been translated to read, guard the shrine of Yahweh’s message. Another inscription reads "assemble here to worship the sun.*"

Beside the Hawkesbury River (north of Sydney in New South Wales) a cave with what appear to be Egyptian hieroglyphics carved on the walls has been found and photographed. According to an article published in the magazine Exposure in 1966, an Egyptologist, Ray Johnson, who had previously translated extremely ancient texts for the Museum of Antiquities in Cairo, translated the hieroglyphic rock carvings to reveal a tragic story of a ruler from the Third Dynasty of Egypt (around 1179 and 2748 BC) who was shipwrecked and eventually died from snakebite. In part the translation of the carvings reads:

For two seasons he made his way westward, weary, but strong to the end. Always praying, joyful, and smiting insects. He, the servant of God, said God brought the insects…Have gone around hills and deserts, in wind and rain, with no lakes at hand… He was killed while carrying the Golden Falcon Standard up front in a foreign land, crossing mountains, desert and water along the way. …….He, who died before, is here laid to rest. May he have life everlasting …. The snake bit twice. Those followers of the diving Lord KHUFU, mighty one of Lower Egypt, Lord of the Two Adzes, not all shall return. We must go forward and not look back. All the creek and riverbeds are dry. Our boat is damaged and tied up with rope. Death was caused by snake. We gave egg-yolk from the medicine-chest and prayed to AMEN, the Hidden One, for he was struck twice.We walled in the side entrance to the chamber with stones from all around. We aligned the chamber with the Western Heavens. …."The three doors of eternity were connected to the rear end of the royal tomb and sealed in. We placed beside it a vessel, the holy offering, should he awaken from the tomb. Separated from home is the Royal body and all others*."

The Chinese were also aware of the existence of Australia. A two thousand-year-old map in Taipei museum in Taiwan shows the coastline of New Guinea, the east coast of Australia down to the Victorian border and the northern coast of Tasmania. Similarly, a two thousand-year-old vase, in the same museum, unearthed in Hong Kong in 1961 clearly shows a crude map of the east coast of Australia. Even Confucius predicted eclipses in Australia for April 7, 592 BC and August 11, 553 BC in 481 BC In the Chinese book The Classics of Shan Hai, written around 338 BC, we read of a great southern continent inhabited by fierce black people who used a strange weapon we now know to be the boomerang*.

The history of European exploration begins in the 1600s with the Dutch. At that time, the Netherlands had become the world’s greatest trading nation, led by the Dutch East India Company, the largest commercial business known to-date. Trading ships headed down the west coast of Africa around the Cape of Good Hope and sailed east to explore routes south of the Indies (now known as Indonesia) to search for the legendary Southland and new spices*.

The first recorded European landing on the shores of Australia was in 1606 by Willem Jansz, the Dutch captain of the Duyfken (Little Dove). Jansz and passenger Jan Lodewycksz landed on the western shores of the Cape York Peninsula at Cape Duifken, believing that they were exploring the coastline of New Guinea. They charted the Cape coast for approximately three hundred kilometers south from the Pennefather River, but were forced to cut their voyage short due to a food shortage. The southernmost point where they stopped their exploration is today known as Cape Turnagain*.

Ten years later, Captain Dirk Hartog became the first European to set foot on the coast of Western Australia in 1616 when he landed on what is today called Dirk Hartog Island. To commemorate the occasion, Captain Hartog took a pewter plate, flattened it and inscribed a simple message. The plate was then nailed to a wooden post set on the top of a small hill on the island. The inscription, translated from Dutch, reads:

"1616, the 25th October, has arrived here the ship Eendracht of Amsterdam, the upper-merchant Gilles Miebais of Luick, skipper Dirck Hatichs of Amsterdam; the 27th ditto set sail for Bantam, the under-merchant Jan Stins, the upper-steersman Pieter Dookes of Bil; anno 1616*"

The plate survived untouched until 1697, when another Dutchman, Captain Willem de Vlamingh, landed on the island and found the remains of Hartog’s nearly buried plate in the sands. De Vlamingh inscribed a new plate, which he nailed to another post to replace Hartog’s original plate. The inscription repeats Hartog’s words, then adds:

"1697, the 4th February has arrived here the ship the Geelvinck of Amsterdam; the commander and skipper Willem de Vlamingh of Vlielandt; assistant Joannes Bremer of Coppenhagen; upper-steersman Michil Bloem of the diocese of Bremen; the hooker the Nyptangh, skipper Gerrit Colaart of Amsterdam, assistant Theodaris Hairmans of the same, upper-steersman Gerrit Geritsen of Bremen; the galliot the Weeseltie, skipper Cornelis de Vlamingh of Vlielandt, steersman Coert Gerritsen of Bremen; and from here set sail with our fleet to explore the Southland with destination Batavia*"

De Vlamingh collected Hartog’s Plate and took it back to the Netherlands. His own plate was discovered by French explorer Captain Louis de Freycinet in 1818 and taken to Paris. Both these priceless artifacts of Australia’s earliest European exploration remained in Europe until 1947, when the French Government returned de Vlamingh’s plate to Australia in a gesture of goodwill – it can now be seen in the Western Australian museum in Perth. Hartog’s plate remained in the Netherlands until Australia’s bicentennial celebrations in 1988, when it was temporarily returned to Australia to form part of the Shipwreck traveling exhibition, presented by the Australian Bicentennial Authority. Today in 2004 it can be seen in the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam*.

Over time, other explorers charted the northern, western and southwestern coastline of the great Southland, which by the mid 1600’s was called Nova Hollandia, or New Holland. Arguably the most famous of these adventurers was Abel Janzsoon Tasman, who in November of 1642 discovered the island off the south coast now known as Tasmania. Tasman returned in 1644 and successfully charted the northern and northwestern coastline between Cape York and Port Hedland*.

Despite all this activity, these early explorers had only seen the western coastline of Australia. Nothing had been found to encourage further investigation and the Dutch made no attempt to colonize New Holland. Indeed, the trading companies actively discouraged voyages of discovery – there was no profit in a land of deserts and rocky shores, inhabited by a people who had no desire or capacity to bargain or trade. Their focus stayed on the spices of the East Indies, the silks of China, and the rice of India.

Further exploration of the Great Southland was left to the English. One of the earliest to explore the west coast of Australia was the writer, naturalist and sometime buccaneer William Dampier. Dampier was born in 1658 in East Coker, Somerset and on leaving school he went to sea and made voyages to Java and New Foundland. He took part in the second Dutch war in 1673, during which he was wounded and sent home as an invalid. Back in England he received an offer of employment on a sugar plantation in Jamaica, but he soon found that plantation life was not for him and he returned to his earlier sea-faring life, making several voyages around the West Indies. After a short time cutting and loading logwood in the Bay of Campeachy, Jamaica, Dampier returned to London in 1678. However, it was not long before he went back to sea and returned to Campeachy. On reaching Jamaica, Dampier joined a local group of buccaneers, whose intentions were to attack and ransack Spanish ships and towns.

In 1683 Dampier and the buccaneers planned to sail around Cape Horn and attack the Spanish treasure fleet as it sailed up the coast to Panama. The attack failed and instead Dampier joined with the Cygnet under the command of Captain Swain on a voyage across the Pacific. Getting no further than Mindanao in the Philippines, the crew, including Dampier, mutinied and, leaving the deposed Swain ashore, sailed under the command of a new captain, Read, to Manila, Formosa and finally to the coast of New Holland where they arrived on 5th January 1688. The ship was beached for repairs in King Sound on the north western shore and during the repairs, Dampier continued to maintain a dairy and kept a log book of observations which were unusually detailed for those times*.

On the return journey Dampier deserted ship in the Nicobar Islands in the Bay of Bengal and made his own way home to England, arriving in 1691. Once there, he published his dairy and notes in a book, which he called "A New Voyage Around The World", in 1697. The book became an immediate success, fueled by the growing interest in Australia throughout Europe caused by the publication of Tasman’s journals just three years previously. The British Admiralty took a keen interest in Dampier following the success of his book and he was soon commissioned by the King to lead an expedition to explore New Holland on behalf of the Crown.

The Admiralty granted Dampier the use of HMS Roebuck for the voyage. This was not such a grand gesture as it sounds, as the Roebuck was in a poor state of repair and the crew assembled for the proposed voyage consisted largely of inexperienced and disobedient sailors. One of these, George Fisher, caused Dampier trouble during the early stages of the voyage and was finally removed from the ship for insubordination and placed in a Brazilian jail. This action was to have a far-reaching effect on Dampier’s later career*.

The original plan was for the Roebuck to sail around Cape Horn and across the Pacific Ocean to approach the continent from the east. However, delays to the departure date would have caused the expedition to be rounding Cape Horn in the middle of winter, which Dampier knew from experience of those waters was not to be recommended. Instead, Dampier elected to sail instead around the Cape of Good Hope and approach from the west, as the Dutch had done before them. On August 6, 1699, the Roebuck weighed anchor at Shark Bay on the west coast of Australia as Dampier records in his journal*:

"The 6th of August, in the morning, we saw an opening in the land, and we ran into it, and anchored in seven and a half fathom water, two miles from the shore, clean sand. It was somewhat difficult getting in here, by reason of many shoals we met with; but I sent my boat sounding before me. The mouth of this sound, which I called Shark's Bay, lies in about 25 degrees south latitude, and our reckoning made its longitude from the Cape of Good Hope to be about 87 degrees, which is less by one hundred and ninety-five leagues than is usually laid down in our common draughts, if our reckoning was right and our glasses did not deceive us.  As soon as I came to anchor in this bay, I sent my boat ashore to seek for fresh water, but in the evening my men returned, having found none.  The next morning I went ashore myself, carrying pickaxes and shovels with me, to dig for water, and axes to cut wood.  We tried in several places for water, but finding none after several trials, nor in several miles compass, we left any further search for it, and spending the rest of the day in cutting wood, we went aboard at night*."

Dampier’s concern was to find fresh water for his crew and he spent the next four weeks traversing the coastline to the northeast, but his journal records his disappointment: "And thus having ranged about a considerable time upon this coast, without finding any good fresh water or any convenient place to clean the ship, as I had hoped for; and it being moreover the height of the dry season, and my men growing scorbutic for want of refreshments, so that I had little encouragement to search further, I resolved to leave this coast, and accordingly in the beginning of September set sail towards Timor*."

On the voyage home, the already weak timbers in the Roebuck finally gave way and in a storm off Ascension Island, the ship was wrecked. Miraculously the crew managed to get ashore safely and they were rescued one month later and returned to England in August, 1701. However, by this time the rebellious crewman, Fisher, had been released from his Brazilian jail and had made his way back to England. His account of his treatment at the hands of Dampier, coupled with the loss of the Roebuck, caused Dampier to face a court martial, the result of which was that he was found guilty, stripped of his pay for the voyage and was forbidden from serving in the Navy again. Dampier published his account of his voyage in his book "Voyage To New Holland," but his reports on the harsh conditions in the parts of Australia that he had explored discouraged further explorations for many years. However, the township of Dampier and the forty-two islands that make up the Dampier Archipelago today marks his exploration*.

It was another Englishman, James Cook, who became the first European to explore the east coast of the Great Southern Land, in 1770. James Cook was born to a farm laborer in Marton, Yorkshire, England on October 27, 1728. In 1745, he was apprenticed to a shopkeeper in the nearby fishing village of Staithes. Here he listened with great interest to the tales told by the local fishermen and at age eighteen, he walked ten miles to the fishing port of Whitby, where he became apprenticed to a ship owner John Walker. Initially employed as a servant, Cook spent his evenings studying navigation and was soon signed on as a deckhand aboard a Whitby collier carrying coal to London*.

In 1755, John Walker offered Cook command of one of his coalers, but Cook had wider objectives and refused and so, on June 17, 1755 he instead enlisted in the Royal Navy, joining HMS Eagle, a sixty gun battle ship. His ten years experience in the coal ships and his nightly studies soon paid off and just over a month later he was promoted to Master’s Mate. Two years later, in June 1757, he passed his Master’s examination at Deptford in London and was assigned to HMS Solebay, followed quickly by appointment as master on board HMS Pembroke. The Pembroke was sent to Nova Scotia, where England and France were fighting over disputed territories. Here Cook was fortunate to meet with the military engineer, Samuel Holland,

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