Why Cook chose the name Whitsunday Passage
LIEUTENANT James Cook named more than 100 geographical features when he sailed the HMB Endeavour along Australia's east coast in 1770.
La Trobe University emeritus professor Alan Frost said he named them in recognition of patrons, to acknowledge important aristocrats, for circumstances that happened on the voyage and because of the places' geographical features.
Cook named the Whitsunday Passage after the Christian holiday of Pentecost - also referred to as Whit Sunday or Whitsunday.
Pentacost is a Christian holiday commemorating the descent of the Holy Ghost upon the disciples of Jesus Christ.
It is celebrated on the Sunday falling on the 50th day of Easter. The Greek word 'pentekoste' means fiftieth.
Although Pentecost Sunday falls on May 31 this year, in 1770 it fell on June 3.
Cook wrote in his journal on June 4 - in 'ship's time' - that he had discovered the passage of "safe harbour" on "the day the Church commemorates (Whitsunday)".
Pentecost Island was the first island in the Whitsunday group to be named and the only one in the group named by Cook, also in June 1770. He noted it was 'more remarkable than the rest'.
Reasons Cook named other Mackay, Whitsunday and Isaac region places:
- Broad Sound Islands: for the "number of islands all around us some of which lay out at sea as far as we could see"
- Cape Capricorn: because it lay directly under the Tropic of Capricorn
- Cape Conway: named after Field Marshall Henry Seymour Conway, the Secretary of State for the Southern Department from 1765 to 1766 and Northern Department from 1766 to 1768.
Cape Gloucester: Named after Prince William Henry, Duke of Gloucester and Edinburgh
- Cape Hillsborough: named after Wills Hills, the first Marquess of Downshire, known as the first Viscount Hillsborough, Secretary of State for the Colonies from 1768 to 1772
Cape Manifold: due to its number of high hills
- Cape Palmerston: named after the second Viscount Palmerston, member of the Admiralty Board from 1766 to 1777
Cape Upstart: "because being surrounded with low land, it starts or riseth up singley at the first making of it"
- Cumberland Islands/Isles: named in honour of His Royal Highness the Duke of Cumberland.
- Keppel Isles/Bay: Named after Admiral Augustus Keppel, first Viscount Keppel.
- Repulse Bay: apparently Cook came across low land after thinking there was an opening between the mainland and the Islands - repulsing him and forcing him to change direction.
- Slade Point: named after Sir Thomas Slade, a member of the Navy Board.
- Thirsty Sound: because Cook and the crew could "find no fresh water" while anchored there.