Kurnell ceremony for 'meeting of cultures'

An annual commemoration of the "meeting of two cultures" at Kurnell, the landing site of Captain James Cook, will take place after plans for a new monument were revealed.

Sutherland Shire Council holds the event at Kamay Botany Bay National Park and the community has received praise from a leading Australian historian for acknowledging shared history.

Sunday's ceremony and picnic follows an announcement this weekend by Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull of a $50 million refurbishment, including a new aquatic monument, in the lead-up to the 250th anniversary of Cook's landing in 2020.

University of Sydney Professor Mark McKenna believes the commonwealth sometimes "lags behind" the local community and Kurnell has taken proactive steps to foster less divisive discussion about Australia's history.

"So often in the past we've been unable to approach these moments - like the anniversary of Cook's landing or January 26 - without dissolving into unbridgeable chasms of differences in understanding," Prof McKenna told AAP.

"After all we've been through, after all we know now, here's an opportunity to build on what's already happened at Kurnell."

The historian recently penned a Quarterly Essay that went into detail about Kurnell's approach, including the rewording of a sign which once welcomed visitors to the "birthplace of the nation" but now reads "the birthplace of modern Australia".

It has "found a way to move beyond the tired polarities of the culture and history wars", Prof McKenna wrote.

He told AAP existing monuments - such as the Cook statue in Hyde Park which was vandalised last year - should be added to rather than altered because they illustrate how understandings of history have evolved.

"People can revile Cook, they can praise him, they can eulogise him, but we can't escape him," he said.

The draft master plan for the refurbishment includes a new visitor centre, cafe and exhibition space, ferry wharves at La Perouse and Kurnell, plus the refurbishment of an existing Captain Cook monument.