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The Endeavour Replica - Port Macquarie and Brisbane

Unfortunately depth restrictions in our local rivers have prevented the Endeavour Replica from berthing here in Laurieton, NSW (or at Port Macquarie 20 miles north), so our 225th celebrations did not occur. Evidently the captain, Chris Bates, is taking no risks with his valuable vessel requiring 15 feet (at least) over our river bars.

However, I recorded the 225th anniversary by producing two commemorative covers postmarked on the journal entry date 12th May (Saturday in 1770, but a Friday in 1995). This is uncorrected timing. The cover bearing the Endeavour Replica stamp has a drawing (by me) of Cook's chart between 35ø and 30ø South Latitude, recorded between 25th April 1770 and May 13th, i.e. between Long Nose Point and Smokey Cape. This includes Cook's little sketch of the 3 Brothers Mountains, and a 3rd peak just south which may be Mt. Gibraltar on the Comhoyne Plateau west of Laurieton (elevation over 3000 feet).

The other cover bearing Capt. Cook's Endeavour stamp (painting) is entitled "Log Entry - Sat. 13th May, 1770 - H.M.B. Endeavour - Lieut. J. Cook", and has written on it (by me) the full log entry. both covers have explanatory details on the back sealing flaps relating to the chart and log entry, and each bears my notation "Cover designed by J. Lawler (330), Capt. Cook Study Unit."

By coincidence the photo of myself and the covers appeared in our local weekly issue of "The Courier" on Wednesday, 17th May, and during the A.M. hours of the 18th the Endeavour Replica passed by and appeared off Port Macquarie about 7 A.M., where many photos were taken that appeared in a souvenir supplement to "Port Macquarie News" on 19th May. Originally, the ship was scheduled to stay 5 days in Pt. Mac., but some preparatory dredging revealed hard sandstone sediment known as "coffee rock" with no time to remove same. Locally, we believe our being passed by here with a much safer bar had political implications, as the seat of our local N.P. member is Port Macquarie.

About 9 o'clock on the morning of the 18th May, 1995, the Endeavour Replica, then positioned due east of Port Macquarie, on the east coast of New South Wales, was invited inshore for a passing viewing parade by a cannon blast fired by our local mayor, Mr. Ray Cooper. The cannon was attended by our recently reformed unit of the 48th Regiment of Foot (Red Coats), which unit guarded the original convict settlers of Port Macquarie at the local gaol (long obliterated).

As it sailed inshore the Replica replied with a broadside, then tacked both N.W. and S.W. while moving close inshore so several thousand viewers on the long cliff foreshores were able to get unique views of a unique and historical vessel. Some of the viewers' comments express the impact of the moment.

Here at my desk I heard the cannon fire and excited spectators' cries as our local A.B.C. (F.M.) radio reported in detail as events unfolded. At 9 A.M. a ship to shore conversation was recorded between Capt. Chris Blake and the manager, Mr Nick Ware. The captain remarked he was very impressed by the on shore reception he and his ship were receiving. During the 3 day voyage from Newcastle he had experienced similar variable winds as on the original Endeavour's trip, and had been forced to use "diesel power" on several occasions. When asked if he had had any rain, storms, etc., to cope with, he replied in true sea salt style "At one stage it had been pissing down with rain"!!

About 10 A.M. (18th) the Replica headed north east, and arrived at the deep water harbour at Coffs Harbour, where it spent about 5 very wet and windy days (200+ mm of rain) before heading N.E. again on its way to other landfalls between here and Brisbane.

John Lawler


My wife and I arrived in Brisbane on 6th June where we found the Endeavour Replica in dry dock under repair with a damaged prop shaft. Because of my interest in the 3 day Stamp and Coin Show the next weekend I missed the relaunching and next saw it on TV sailing down the Brisbane River to resume its east coast voyage. It appears there may have been a few problems with its modern "sea safety" auxiliary gear which has caused several delays in its itinerary and a recent statement by the captain, Chris Blake, to the Port Maregnariu Maritime Museum ruling out a stop there on the return trip south said "the rest of the ship's programme was now set in concrete".

John Lawler

Originally published in Cook's Log, page 1209, volume 18, number 4 (1995).

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