August 26th 1768: James Cook’s first voyage departs
On this day in 1768, Captain James Cook departed from Plymouth, England for his first voyage aboard the HMS Endeavour. The expedition to the south Pacific was commissioned by King George III. The ship reached many Pacific islands and New Zealand, but is best known as the first time Europeans reached Australia. Cook landed at Botany Bay, in modern day Sydney, on the 29th April 1770. Cook claimed the land for Great Britain and returned to England in July 1771. He went on two further expeditions and was killed by islanders in Hawaii on the third.