Captain Cook’s first voyage – in Google Earth

Captain Cook, Tahiti, Endeavour, transit of Venus, Mrs Morgan's Florilegium, Natalie Waddell

Someone who knows far more about technology than I do has gone to the trouble of taking Captain Cook’s first voyage around the world and rendering it in Google Earth – complete with a 3D graphic model of his ship, the Endeavour, readings from Cook’s journal and the sound of the waves and creaking timbers in the background.

On this day in 1769, Cook was close to the Pitcairn Islands in the southern Pacific Ocean, near do achieving his aim of reaching Tahiti in time to observe the transit of Venus in June. The Endeavour’s crew hadn’t set foot on land since Tierra del Fuego in January and the previous day, they had spotted birds of a kind that made them think they were at last approaching their destination.

On the March 24, “at about three in the morning one of the people saw or thought he saw a log of wood pass the ship,” wrote Cook.

“This made us think we were near some land, but at daylight we saw not the least appearances of any and I did not think myself at liberty to spend time in searching for what I was not sure to find.”

Referring to the Portuguese navigator of the previous century, he goes on to say: “I thought myself not far from those islands discovered by Quiros in 1606 and very probable we were not.”

Pedro Fernández de Quirós went in search of the mythical southern continent known as Terra Australis, which – after Tahiti – Cook was intent on finding for himself under secret orders issued to him by the Admiralty.

You can follow Cook’s progress via Colin Hazelhurst’s Google Earth version of his adventures here.


  1. THIS IS SO COOL! Seriously, I’m too amazed to say much else.

  2. Reblogged this on oceanicexplorer and commented:
    Nat Waddell wrote this great post on the new Google Earth-enabled view of Captain Cook’s most well-known voyage, including his search for Terra Australis. One of Cook’s crew on his subsequent trip to Australia, navigator Matthew Flinders, produced charts of the Australian coastline that are extremely close to modern satellite-enhanced maps.

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