In the early Sydney colony, newcomers commonly quizzed Indigenous locals about their memories of Captain Cook and the Endeavour.
They believed the arrival of a shipload of British men who stayed for a week was an incredibly memorable event; and assumed that details of it would have been preserved — even treasured — over time.
The accounts given are hardly ever a straightforward recounting of what Cook did. And they rarely tally with what is recorded in the voyage accounts.
Rather, they carry those common qualities of remembering: telescoping, conflating, rearranging time, stripping back detail, and upping symbolism and metaphor. Unpicking the threads of these memories is vital for historians wanting to find agreement on details and interpretations, and provenance of items that changed hands during early encounters.
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