When we visited Cook’s cottage, in Fitzroy Park I was able to correct several misapprehensions. The Aussies didn’t get the wrong one, as I’d been previously told. this house was actually built and owned by Cook’s father, James Cook Senior. His initials,and those of his wife were carved into the lintel with the date 1755.
It wasn’t the ‘cottage in which Cook grew up’, either, for 1755 was the year he joined the Navy, after leaving home ten years previously to work in Staithes and Whitby. It’s quite possible he may have visited from time to time, though.
The cottage stands in Fitzroy Gardens, where it was shipped, stone by stone, by Sir Russel Grimwade in 1934, and it can lay claim to being the oldest building in Australia … Cook didn’t set foot in Australia until fifteen years after it was initially built.
There was an interpretation of Cook’s voyages and achievements, as well as many contemporary artifacts showing how life would have been in the 18th Century … although, I suspect, laid out more tidily than they would have been … James was the second of eight children.
There were also a pair of knowledgeable volunteers on hand, dressed in period costume, representing James Cook Senior and his wife. There were even some costumes to try on, if visitors wished. And, in the garden, there’s a statue … not of ‘Captain Cook’ as so many statues are, but of Lieutenant Cook, as he was when he first arrived in Botany Bay.