Too Many Captain Cooks

Producer: Penelope McDonald
Director: Penelope McDonald
Genre: Documentary
Run time: 18 mins
Year: 1989
Distributor: Ronin Films – Educational DVD Sales


For use by educational institutions or for public screenings:

For both Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal Australians, Captain James Cook is a figure of great historical significance.

Non-Aboriginal histories of Australia generally regard Captain Cook as the person who discovered Australia, although historical records show that he was not the first European to step onto Australian shores.

Contemporary Aboriginal accounts of Captain Cook that survive bear little relationship to this history upheld by non-Aboriginal Australians. In Northern Australia white people are referred to in slang as ‘Captain Cooks’.

Between Cook discovering Australia and Aboriginal people discovering Cook, there are clearly various historical truths.

For non-Aboriginal people, Cook is the progenitor of European settlement; for Aboriginal people he is the archetypal first white man to invade Australia.

The new era Cook introduced is seen very differently by black and white Australians.