Stan Grant questions Captain Cook’s place in Australian history

Bryan Seymour

An inscription at a Sydney park says Captain Cook discovered NSW, but indigenous broadcaster Stan Grant says that ignores our Aboriginal heritage and it should be changed.

He says we can no longer maintain the fiction that Captain Cook discovered Australia.

"I'm not saying tear down the statue," Grant says.

"But clearly he didn't discover Australia - Aboriginal people have been here."

Cook's statue at Hyde Park was unveiled in 1879.

The inscription reads: "He discovered this territory - 1770".

Grant would like this inscription changed to acknowledge that Aboriginal people were already here. Source: 7 News
Grant would like this inscription changed to acknowledge that Aboriginal people were already here. Source: 7 News

Grant wants it changed to something like: "He explored this territory - 1770", or it might include mention of the first Australians, here 60,000 years before Cook.

"It highlights the great indignity of a racist doctrine that's been used to take all of this country," says Metropolitan Land Council CEO Nathan Moran.

Captain Cook himself said, "I have made not very great discoveries, yet I have explored more of the Great South Sea than all before me".

"It's a conversation that we're obliged to engage in as white Australians," University of Sydney historian Dr Miranda Johnson says.

Stan Grant says Arthur Phillip and Governor Macquarie were revered for their achievements, but also ordered the massacre of Aboriginal people.

Stan Grant says the City of Townsville is named after a slave trader. Source: 7 News
Stan Grant says the City of Townsville is named after a slave trader. Source: 7 News

He says the City of Townsville is named after a slave trader, and he wants the kind of debate in Australia that is happening in America, where what he describes as "the monuments of hate" are being torn down.

Near Kurnell, where Cook stepped ashore, local opinions were steadfast.

"Captain Cook is history for Australia so why would you go and do that?" one person said.

"You could put another inscription on it as well, I just think you can't rewrite history," another said.

Sydney City Council has referred the matter to a committee.