The day James Cook reached Australia – level 3
Since the 17th century, people in Europe were speaking about a mythical continent in the South Pacific. Some people were also saying that the continent was very rich.
James Cook, a famous British sailor, was given a clear task. He had to go to the Pacific Ocean, find the mythical continent, and seize its wealth for the British Crown.
In 1768, Cook and his ship started a journey towards the southern point of South America. He sailed around South America and then he continued west.
When he stopped at Tahiti, he learned from the natives that there was no large continent in the surrounding waters. There were only small islands.
However, he didn’t give up his mission and went further west where he first encountered New Zealand. When he found out that New Zealand was just two big islands, he continued further west.
On April 19, 1770, he came to Australia. He landed in the bay where Sydney is located now. Scientists from his expedition found a paradise there. Within a few days, they found 150 new species of plants and animals.
Cook then sailed north along the coast and discovered a big part of Australia’s east coast. He declared Australia British territory.
18 years later, Britain sent its first large fleet of 11 ships with the first settlers to Australia. A lot of the new settlers were prisoners from Britain. Over years, 160,000 prisoners were transported there. Once their sentence was over, they got a piece of land in Australia and they could start a new life there.
Difficult words: task (work that must be done), seize (to take control of a place), native (a person who is born in a particular place), encounter (to meet), bay (a part of the sea with land on three sides), species (a group of animals of the same sort), fleet (a group of ships), once (when), sentence (a punishment).
What impact do you think Cook's discovery had on the culture of the land he discovered?
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