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Lieutenant James Cook's Character, His Construction and Development

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In Chapter Four of Bill Bryson’s Book “Down Under” He starts talking about Captain Cook. In 1770 Lieutenant James Cook and his crew aboard the HMS Endeavour discovered the South-east corner of Australia and sailed 1,800 miles to Cape York, this however was not what Cook had set out to achieve but it was to play a big part in the history of Australia. Cook set off again this time to explore the lands of the South seas, and bring home anything that looked scientifically interesting. I this three year voyage, he gathered up 30,000 specimens which included 1,400 Plants never seen before. So on 19th April 1770 when HMS Endeavour returned to the South-east tip of Australia, Cook and his crew where already on a role. Cook named this spot Point Hicks and turned to the North. For Four months Cook headed up the coast. They stopped ashore at Possession Island, Planted a flag and claimed the East coast for Great Britain. Cook returned twice to the pacific on greater voyages. Cook was Murdered in 1779 and was said to be eaten by natives on a beach in Hawaii.

Thank’s to Cook’s discoveries Australia became known. This was a unbelievable achievement and is very well known today. From reading this part of Bill Bryson’s book “Down Under” I have discovered a little bit more about the way Australia was discovered, I knew a Little bit about Cook’s voyages already but in reading this I have also discovered that Cook was supposedly eaten by the natives of Hawaii in 1779.

Captain Cook’s voyages on the ship Endeavour have a lot of relevance to Australia today. It was these voyages which later lead to the colonisation of Australia as it is today. When Captain Cook’s log books of his journeys to Australia returned to England and were read, they told of wonderful green lands and open and safe bays which would be perfect to start a new colony. From this promise of being able to live quite easily the first fleet were sent to Australia and Australia became colinised. Had it not been for Cook’s voyages, perhaps Australia would not have been founded by the English and the Australia of today would be far different than what it is.


In Bill Bryson’s book “Down Under”, Bill Bryson starts to explain the story of the Batavia. The Batavia was a Dutch ship traveling on its way to the East Indies. The captain and crew of the Batavia where trying to find the quickest way to sail to the planned destination. The captain and his crew planned to sail though the “Roaring Forties.” This proved to be a deadly mistake and just before dawn on June 1629, the Batavia crashed into the the Abrolhos Islands. About 160 crew members where killed by drowning and the other 200 crew members that did survive where in bad shape. Captain Pelsaert, set out back to the ship for supplies, with which he left in charge Jeronimus Cornelisz which proved a BIG mistake, he and his followers murdered most of the survivors and those not killed where forced into slavery, the women where used as sex objects. Some of these women escaped to a nearby sand bar, built a fort and weapons. Once Pelsaert reached the Batavia he was given another boat and went to retrieve the remaining survives.

From reading Bill Bryson’s book “Down Under” I have learnt a bit more about Australia’s history and discovered this story about the Batavia, Because up until reading this book I didn’t know the Batavia even existed. Although nothing really came of this story I have learnt about the bravery that Pelsaert showed and the courage of those who were left behind with a Mad man.

The story of the Batavia I don’t think really relate’s to Australia today although It happened here. It is however an event that as fascinated many people today and has encouraged them to research what happened and find out more.


Bill Bryson’s book “Down Under” has helped me to gain a greater appreciation, knowledge and understanding of Australian history by making me want to learn about Australia. Bill Bryson wrote his book in such a way that It keeps the reader interested and makes even the most boring topic interesting and also adds the aspect of humor to help him achieve this. I found it fascinating that someone from another country could be so Interested in Our history, That made me think that if someone else from another country was so intrigued by Australia that maybe I should be just as interested as him, also the way he wrote the book kept me interested and made me want to learn more about the events that he wrote about also making me research these such events further. I think that for anyone who truly wants to learn about Australia This book is a very good way to start.

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