PHOTOS

Low key commemoration of 251st anniversary of Cook's arrival and first contact with Indigenous people on east coast

The 251st anniversary of the Endeavour sailing into Botany Bay and first contact between Europeans and Indigenous people on the east coast was low key.

Sutherland Shire Council said about 250 people were present when the traditional Meeting of Two Cultures commemoration was held yesterday.

The event included a Welcome to Country and address from La Perouse Local Aboriginal Land Council Chair Noeleen Timbery and performances and cultural demonstrations by local indigenous representatives.

Traditional weaving techniques were demonstrated and there were performances by Gamay Dancers and Golden Guitar winners Uncle Col Hardy and Luke O'Shea, as well as song workshops.

Mayor Steve Simpson said the council was proud of the long-standing relationship it had built with local indigenous groups, and continue to work closely with the Kurranulla Aboriginal Corporation, La Perouse Local Aboriginal Land Council and the Aboriginal Advisory Committee to support a shared understanding of the area's history.

Cronulla MP and Attorney-General Mark Speakman said it was "in a spirit of reflection, of openness, and of generosity that we commemorate the encounter between two cultures that occurred at this place on 29 April 1770".

"We acknowledge our history, because it helps us to understand ourselves," he said.

"We scrutinise its legacy, because it helps us to understand others.

"In fact, one of the new commemorative art installations here at Kurnell, The Eyes of the Land and the Sea is, in the words of the artist, 'a story about discovery. Not the discovery of land by England, but of all Australians discovering our true history...'"

Mr Speakman said Cook's arrival was considered a towering achievement of the European era of Enlightenment.

"Cook was a highly skilled cartographer. During three voyages between 1768 and 1779, he sailed thousands of miles and recorded islands and coastlines in previously unchartered parts of the world.

"Cook's contribution to the development of knowledge was recognised as monumental in his lifetime, as it still is today.

"In many ways, he was the embodiment of an era characterised by inquiry, discovery and boundless creativity.

"Those virtues are foundational to the Australia of today and to leadership in science, innovation, entrepreneurship and the arts."

Mr Speakman said Australia was "also home to the oldest continuing culture on the planet".

"It's said that Aboriginal Australians descended from the very first human explorers - people who traversed vast swathes of unknown territory in Asia before crossing the sea into Australia.

"Over 60,000 years before Cook's arrival, Aboriginal people cultivated a rich tradition built on spirituality, kinship, and connection with Australia's unique natural environment.

"Let's treasure and preserve that important legacy, and in the same way James Cook's."

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