SYDNEY – A replica of the Endeavour ship will circumnavigate Australia between 2020 and 2021 to commemorate the 250th anniversary of Captain James Cook’s voyage to Australia and the Pacific, Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced on Tuesday.
“As the 250th anniversary nears we want to help Australians better understand Captain Cook’s historic voyage and its legacy for exploration, science and reconciliation,” Morrison said in a statement.
“That voyage is the reason Australia is what it is today and it’s important we take the opportunity to reflect on it,” he added.
The initiative will cost about AU$6.7 million ($4.8 million) and is part of a AU$48.7 million government package to commemorate the journey, which culminated in 1771.
Captain Cook made the first map of Australia’s east coast, but his explorations and observations are also associated with the dispossession of Aboriginal lands, as he declared the territory as “Terra nullius” (No man’s land) to claim it in the name of the British crown.
Morrison made the announcement before Australia Day on Jan. 26, which commemorates the arrival of the first British fleet to Sydney in 1788, but which Aboriginal people associate with the loss of their lands and culture, as well as with discrimination and abuse.
Days earlier, the prime minister announced a plan to force the celebration of Australia Day after several municipalities refused to mark it in solidarity with Aborigines.
Since colonization, the indigenous population has suffered abuse, been deprived of its land and has been systematically discriminated against.
Aboriginals account for three percent of a population of more than 22 million, living mostly in poverty in remote areas or in squalid conditions, and with household income barely reaching 62 percent of the national average.