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These episodes will focus on Australia and their founding fathers. The first thing up is an interview with an Australian on this topic. The main episode and then the resources mini-sode are next.

Links to other resources as well as the transcript are below the pictures.

A picture of James Cook

By <a href="" class="extiw" title="w:en:Nathaniel Dance-Holland">Nathaniel Dance-Holland</a> - from the National Maritime Museum, United Kingdom, Public Domain, Link

A drawing of Cook's arrival at Botany Bay

Cook's landing at Botany Bay.jpg
By Unknown author - <a rel="nofollow" class="external free" href=";referercode=cat">;referercode=cat</a>, Public Domain, Link

Map of Cook's First Journey

Other Resources(Clickable links on the titles)

For this week's episode I read: James Cook - A life from beginning to end which was a great short biography of James Cook's life. At a shade under 50 pages it gives great highlights of his life and is a better place to start than Wikipedia.

The second book I read was The Fatal Shore - The epic of Australia's founding which is a great overview of the founding Australia from Cook, to Aboriginal history, to everything that happened after Cook. This book is quite chunky at 600 pages before notes and biography, so it's not a quick read but it's also not a dry boring read at least. I haven't gotten through all of it quite yet but I did at least get a little past what we covered in the episode this week.


Rum, Rebels, and Ratbags is an Australian podcast about not so famous Australian people who made big impacts on Australia or the world. They have 1 episode about Joseph Banks as well as 2 episodes on Arthur Phillip

History Extra has a whole episode on the Endeavour, the ship Captain Cook used on his first voyage across the world 

Why do Countries Exist has a good 30-minute survey of Australian History that you can take a listen to.

Anthology of Heroes has an episode on the modern-day Robin Hood type folk hero of Australia

If you can't wait for the second Australia episode please check out these episodes about Arthur Phillip and his time in Australia.
Today in True Crime has a short 13-minute overview of Arthur Phillip's journey to Australia (scroll down to May 13, 2020)

The Leading By Proxy podcast is a history of the governor generals of Australia and they have a 20-minute episode on Arthur Phillip's 

Then some honorable mention resources: 

Cook's second voyage as a free audiobook podcast

Comedian's have a live talk show about Captain Arthur Phillip - Cursing here so be warned.


Hello everyone, sorry for the delay in getting this episode out! We had a baby while Hurricane Sally swept over our little city all during the covid pandemic. So..... that was unprecedented. I gave fleeting thought to giving my second daughter the middle name "coronicane" but decided she and my wife might not enjoy that so... yeah.

Just a thought here if you haven't noticed yet, each episode is going to be a pretty different format, each nation has such a different founding story that I think it best to let the format of their episode be shaped by the nature of their founding so think of that part of each episode as my abstract art giving you my feelings on what I learned.

With that in mind, we're going to start by plopping down in the middle of the 18th Century UK and then we'll get to some background information later. James Cook, or Captain Cook as he's better known, is where we will start today. Cook was born in 1728 to a poor family in Yorkshire. His father was a farm worker and James had a basic education for that time at a village school and worked on the farm. But apparently he had a dizzying intellect and he moved into the city to work at a shop which just so happened to be near the port. He was an apprentice to the merchant who owned the shop but before long, in 1746, he was allowed to leave to become an apprentice to a ship owner. During that time he lived with the ship owner's family and impressed them enough to rise through the ranks in the owner's company. After a few years of that he decided to move on once again to join the Royal Navy.

Most people in the Navy had been forced into the navy at this time because the life was so difficult. But it was one of the only avenues of social mobility in society then. A skilled sailor could rise up to a place of high status with just a little luck and it seemed like James Cook had the ambition to do just that.
The first ship he was placed on was The Eagle, Hugh Palliser was the captain. In 1758 they left patrols around england and ended up in Newfoundland, Quebec stayed for 9 years. During this time, 1760, Cook was promoted to an NCO
Palliser became a very important person for Cook advocating for him where he didn't have social connections to do it otherwise.
Cook was appointed master of the ship during the first long voyage aboard the Mercury. He successfully charted the St. Lawrence River in Canada and this was very helpful in the British war effort against the French. In recognition of this he was promoted to Steersman and was made a surveillance assistant. He was responsible for surveying the waters in Canada, Newfoundland, Labrador, Nova Scotia. During this time he observed his first solar eclipse which he also sent records of back to London. This seems like his first interaction with the Royal Society of London, basically a science Society with a long history.
Cook was married during this time as well and there isn't a lot specific about his family we will talk about because, frankly he wasn't around much being in the Navy, most Navy personnel at this time were at sea constantly. There is one tidbit about her that's important, when she was older she burned the many letters sent to her by James, it's thought this was done to keep personal information about him from getting out after he became a national hero.
First time leading a trip - 1768 on the HMS Endeavour. This voyage had two purposes

  1. The official story was needing to go to the southern hemisphere to observe Venus passing in front of the sun. The voyage was to take details notes and report back about this very rare event.
  2. Another reason, which seems to have been a kind of secret reason only mentioned behind closed doors, was to search for the "great southern continent" what we know now as Antarctica

Because of the way British culture worked at the time Cook was unable to officially lead the expedition so Joseph Banks did this instead. He was a naturalist from the aristocracy and had the needed credentials and education to officially lead a voyage like this. Even so, Cook was in charge of choosing the ship for the voyage and chose a freight ship rather than a traditional naval vessel for the smaller crew size, larger cargo area, and shallower birth to enable it to more easily approach land. 

This brings us to one of the "firsts" that James Cook did. He successfully prepared his ship to fight against scurvy and is thought to be the first man to sail a long journey like this without losing any of his crew to scurvy. So let's talk about scurvy, you scurvy dog, the first thing to know about scurvy is that it's more than just a pirate insult. It was a terrible problem for sailors especially on long voyages. I often hear Michael Troy on the American Revolution Podcast talking about how disease was more a threat than the enemy for the US and British Armies in the field and that was also true on-board ships. It was not uncommon to have the majority of one's crew die from scurvy over the course of a long voyage. As an aside, do yourself a favor and don't look up the details of scurvy death, it's pretty terrible. 

Nowadays we know it comes from Vitamin C deficiency but up to this point they had not been able to figure out what caused it. So in the fight against this there were a few new theories that had been put forward and that Cook either was tasked with trying or decided to try. He brought malt, wort, beer, Sauerkraut and Lind's rob on his ship in that effort. He also insisted on frequently stopping to bring on fresh food and vegetables. Now before you get distracted looking up all that let me give you a quick rundown and then we'll be back to Captain Cook. Malt is a grain product that is used to add flavor or nutrients to drinks, especially beer with the type of malt used being a strong part of the flavor of the beer. Wort is basically just beer that hasn't yet been fermented. I'm assuming you know what beer is. Sauerkraut is basically fermented thin strips of cabbage. Lind's rob is a boiled concentration of citrus fruit. Alright hopefully that satisfied your curiosity. By July 1768 they had food, a few cannons, and lots of scientific equipment loaded up... and they set off for the Pacific.

They sailed down the western edge of Europe and then west towards the Americas and down around Cape Horn which is the southernmost tip of South America. They started heading northwest from there into the Pacific and specifically to Tahiti to watch and study Venus passing in front of the Sun. This first part of the journey was without incident, which wasn't a given considering it took almost 9 months of sailing.

When they finally got to Tahiti, in April of 1769, they settled in Matavai Bay where they traded with locals and waited for the transit of Venus. While waiting they stumbled upon another first, at least for Great Britain, tattoos. Apparently no one in Great Britain had ever heard of or seen tattoos up to this point. They would eventually bring this knowledge back to Great Britain, and Banks(that's the noble that was nominally in charge of the expedition) wrote about it when he was Joseph Banks, father of British tattoos?? During the wait two crew members seem to have ran away to live on Tahiti and a native Tahitian man named Omai agreed to sail with them back to England and visit the country(on Cook's third voyage in 1776 Omai was returned to Tahiti). It would be so very interesting to have a journal from one of them but alas there is not one available. Finally on June 3 of the same year, 1769, the transit of Venus happened and they took their measurements and observations and set off to the west in search of the "southern continent" (remember that's what we call Antarctica). They dealt with the "Roaring Forties which was an area with incredibly strong winds but were able to, after 6 months of work, chart the water and coasts of all of New Zealand's main islands.
It seems, at this time, Cook was careful to not offend the native peoples of the places he went; I say this time because later on he is going to run into some prickly situations with native peoples. He had the men make a show of strength with their gunpowder weapons and then once the natives were impressed have honest dealings with them and strict discipline was maintained. 

After the mapping of New Zealand they continued west and found the purpose of our episode today, Australia, specifically the eastern coast. They landed at Botany Bay on April 20, 1770 and the British flag was planted to claim this area for the King. Much scientific work was done collecting samples of wildlife, plants, and trees with over 1,000 new animal and plant species documented and collected, hence the name Botany Bay. There were native peoples here but they were wary of foreigners and mostly tried to stay far away from them and there is even a story about the crew finding abandoned kids in a hut that the natives had fled from.
After collecting enough stuff and charting lots of places they headed off for the next destination only to run into one of Australia's most famous things! The Great Barrier Reef, being friendly tried to give the ship a handshake but underestimated it's strength and instead punched a gaping hole in the ship. Note to self, don't sail too near Reefs. Of course they had no idea thee Reef was there and so Cook also was the first person we know of to discover the Great Barrier Reef! There was a frenzied time where there was fear the ship might be lost but they were able to patch it up and get back to Australia where they were able to do more permanent repairs. From there they started to head back home which took them around Asia and Africa.

And that's it, arguably Australia's most famous man, with landmarks and cities named by and for him, was in Australia for only 70 days. 

When they finally got home, 3 years later, in 1771 everyone was overjoyed as they had been presumed lost at sea. Because of being officially in charge of the expedition Joseph Banks received almost all of the accolades for their journey. Cook was at that time just a lieutenant but from this expedition was promoted to commander, a step below Captain. Cook's greatest accomplishment on this his first voyage was the extremely accurate charting of New Zealand and Australia which the British would use to great effect when they founded colonies there not too many years in the future.

There were other things he did including 2 more world-spanning voyages but those are outside the scope of this episode so I can only give the rest of his life a brief summary here before we must move on. His next voyage, in 1772, was one in which he was tasked with finding the southern continent again. This time he was able to find what he could about it with 3 trips across the Antarctic Circle and concluded that while there was a great southern continent it was iced over and not useful for anything. On his way home he made it to Easter Island, which had already been discovered, among other places. 

On his third voyage, in 1776, he was trusted with finding the northwest passage, a fabled waterway passage that would allow ships to take a shortcut around the north side of the North American Continent to get from the Atlantic to the Pacific. He was able to travel to the entrance to where a passageway would be near Alaska but was unsuccessful in finding anything, because it didn't exist. He did however find trouble in Hawaii. After having stayed there a little while with seemingly friendly relations with the natives their ship was crippled in a storm and they needed to return back to Hawaii to refit. Something went wrong on this return trip and they were met with immediate hostility. Through some confusing situations Cook was killed by the Hawaiians and his body taken into the forest. And just like that our first founder of Australia disappears from the scene. Or did he...A few centuries later a young texan came of age in the mid 1900s and developed a fascination with Captain Cook. He would go on to a prodigious career in TV starting in 1964 with a man named Captain James T Kirk and the Enterprise named after Captain Cook and the Endeavour. 

So there you have it one of the main inspirations for Star Trek came from Captain Cook and his first voyage. Now there are many good books and podcasts on Captain Cook that go much more in depth on his life that I'll reference in the podcast links mini-sode that comes with this episode. Or if you want to wait a while he will get more podcast time in the N's with New Zealand when I get there eventually.

Continuing on to the final part of this story we'll take a look at what happened after Cook's journey. We'll title this section "you obey or I'll stick you on a boat and ship you to the ends of the earth" 

Let's do a little background to get an idea of what's happening here:
Back in the 17th and 18th century version of Great Britain the life of a regular worker was a terrible, cramped one. These are the kinds of people who probably never made it very far out of their neighborhood or farming village and crime was rampant, especially in the cities, as it was one of the only ways to make a reasonable living; crime so rampant in fact that there came to be a belief among the upper-class that there was a "criminal class" a whole class of people who lived off crime and was a sizable minority of the population in London. During this time English law was in some ways very far ahead in terms of the fair rule of law. But this system was seen as lax on criminals and so to offset this they ended up making 200 different crimes capital punishment. So they starting doling out hangings like like Oprah dole's out houses. "A sooty face on the highway? You get the gallows! Forged a document, the gallows!". 

These extreme punishments along with the massive numbers of poor and desperate people lead to a lot of capital punishment sentences. There was one glimmer of rusty hope and that was that many of these sentences were lessened by the King or other high officials. But to commute a death sentence would mean a long jail stay and that meant building more jails and spending more money...or... banishing them to a far off land where they could be slave labor to help develop your colonial empire! Well you can guess which they chose. So off they went to America starting in the 1600s and lasting until the Americans decided they no longer wanted to be British in the 1770s. During the century and a half this convict transportation had been taking place there had been an estimated 40,000 British convicts shipped off to the colonies in America. With this outlet for convicts now closed, the jails started to become overcrowded and so, when it became apparent that the Americans were not going to roll over and come back to the British crown, the British authorities had to make a decision on where to send these convicts. 

The first suggestion was by British Africa Company which wanted to send them to McCarthy Island, a large island in the Gambia River. The idea was to just drop them in a small area surrounded by natives and let them die and those who survived would become planters on the island. The second was a bay near the Orange River in Southwest Africa but after sending a scouting ship, the land there was deemed too dry to support the agriculture needed for the colony. So the third option came up. Botany Bay, it was too far away to send a scouting ship but it got glowing reviews from our old friend Joseph Banks, the scientist that had served as the nominal head of the Cook expedition, and so they decided on Botany Bay as their choice for their convict colony fleet. Arthur Phillip was appointed as leader of the expedition and to be the first governor of this new convict wonderland in the southern hemisphere.

And that is where we will come to our abrupt conclusion to today's podcast. I know, we haven't even landed settlers in Australia yet!! But remember this podcast is about the people that most citizens think of as their founder and Cook seems to be the man to fit that bill and we are already bursting at the seams of our 30-minute time limit. I will be making a second round once I finish every country's first round but for now if you want to know how the story finishes I have recommendations in the podcast links mini-sode. 

Also this seems like as good a time as any to introduce my Patreon account to you. One of the benefits of being a patron of mine is that you can choose countries to go out of order or choose to have a second episode about a certain country. So if you like what I'm doing here and want to help me spend more time here rather than doing normal work please send me some loose change and I'll see to it that this continues to get better! Otherwise please rate me on your favorite podcast app and send me a chat on the website at or on the founders of nations facebook group. I will not be including a "what I learned" on this episode because frankly my brain is running on fumes with this new baby and the hurricane having caused damage to our living space that we are dealing with. So hope to see you all in a few weeks for the Algeria Podcast!