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Endeavour Journal

Video clip synopsis – Written on board the Endeavour during his trip down under in 1770, James Cook’s journal records the beginning of Australia as we know it today.
Year of production - 2004
Duration - 5min 0sec
Tags - Australian History, see all tags


Endeavour  Journal

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About the Video Clip


Endeavour Journal is an episode of the series National Treasures produced in 2004.

Endeavour Journal
What is Australia’s greatest book? In the National Library of Australia there is a 743-page volume that could lay claim to the title. It is Lieutenant James Cook’s journal, written on board the Endeavour during his trip down under in 1770. Warren Brown leafs through these precious pages to discover Cook’s first impressions and trace the beginning of Australia as we know it today.

National Treasures
Take a road-trip of discovery with the irrepressible Warren Brown – political cartoonist, columnist and history “tragic” – as he reveals a fascinating mix of national treasures drawn from public and private collections across Australia. On its own, each treasure is a priceless snapshot of an historic moment. Together, they illustrate the vitality and uniqueness of the Australian experience.

National Treasures is a Film Australia National Interest Program. Produced with the assistance of the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.

Curriculum Focus


In this English unit students will learn:

  • how viewers are positioned by the choices of film makers
  • the influence of language on the way we think about the Australian landscape
  • to evaluate decisions made about what society regards as iconic
  • to debate and discuss issues regarding Australian history and literature

Viewing and creating texts about Lieutenant James Cook’s Endeavour Journal, students will have the opportunity to explicitly develop and demonstrate their knowledge and abilities in terms of:

Affective objectives

  • enjoying: experiencing and expressing thoughts and emotional reactions
  • engaging: participating effectively in activities that involve connecting with people, feelings, places, ideas, issues and events
  • relating: respecting and valuing cultural similarities and differences
  • appreciating: valuing the world(s) in which they live in order to understand better the world of others
  • playing: experimenting with the flexible nature of language, exploring its possibilities, and creating desired effects

Knowledge and control of texts in their contexts

  • making meaning in texts, taking account of how language and meaning are shaped by cultural purposes, genres and register variables
  • using and controlling texts in their contexts, by making choices of register to achieve particular purposes in particular cultural contexts and social situations
  • selecting, synthesising, analysing, infering from, and evaluating subject matter and substantiating with evidence as required
  • establishing and making use of the ways that writers, speakers/signers and shapers’ roles and their relationships with their readers, listeners and viewers are influenced by power, distance and affect
  • using modes and mediums, combining where necessary, to interpret and produce texts.

Knowledge and control of textual features

  • making decisions about the appropriateness and effectiveness of the staging of texts and the sequencing and organization of subject matter, and of the use of cohesive ties to link ideas in a range of textschoosing textual features from different language systems and operating these systems interactively

Knowledge and application of the constructedness of texts

  • making use of their knowledge that discourses shape and are shaped by language choices
  • exploring ways that cultural assumptions, values, beliefs and attitudes underpin texts
  • choosing ways to represent concepts, and the relationships and identities of individuals, groups, times and places
  • considering ways that readers, viewers or listeners are invited to take up positions in relation to texts or parts of texts, and making decisions about which reading position to adopt

This is an extract only. Teachers and students should consult Queensland Curriculum: Learning, Teaching and Assessment for updated curriculum information

Background Information


Captain James Cook FRS RN (October 27, 1728 – February 14, 1779) was an English explorer, navigator and cartographer. Cook made three voyages to the Pacific Ocean.

James Cook was the first European explorer to chart the east coast of Australia. Written on board the Endeavour during his 1770 trip, James Cook’s journal records his first impressions and traces the beginning of Australia as we know it today.

Classroom Activities

  1. Understanding the video clip
    1. Warren Brown asks: what is Australia’s greatest book? In his answer, does Brown’s language leave any room to doubt his conclusion? Explain.
    2. What widespread misconception about the naming of Cook is dealt with early in the clip? Why is this misconception so widespread?
    3. In the segment where Brown reveals Cook’s journal in the National Library, what is Brown’s reaction to the book? How is this displayed through language features, gestures, facial expressions and vocal features?
    4. Brown reads an extract from the journal about the ‘discovery’ of Stingray Bay and its subsequent re-naming. What assumptions are made in this section of the clip and what gaps and silences are evident?
    5. According to Brown, why is the journal a national treasure?
  2. Exploring issues raised in the video clip
    James Cook was the first European explorer to chart the east coast of Australia. He is presented in many Australian text books as a hero. In tracing his voyage around the world, writer Tony Horwitz discovered that to many Indigenous people he is seen as a villain. He discusses this in an interview found on Book Browse
    1. Warren Brown enthuses about the status of Cook’s journal as a national treasure, but what is missing from Brown’s account? For example, what might an Indigenous Australian make of this clip?
    2. The story of Cook’s voyages up the east coast of Australia is fraught with controversy. Through research, discover how Cook is represented by different people from different backgrounds (e.g. different schools of history, indigenous people including Australian Aborigines etc). Research one of these groups and research Cook’s travels. From their perspective, decide: was he a hero or a villain? Prepare to participate in a panel discussion where a range of views on Cook can be discussed and debated. In your role, justify your conclusion by reference to the criteria you develop to apply to him in your role.
      Alternatively, debate whether Cook’s Endeavour Journal really is Australia’s greatest book.

Further Resources


Go to Captain Cook Showcase