Restoring Cook’s Legacy 2020 Project - Aims


Restoring Cook’s Legacy 2020 is an exciting new project with a focus on the Cook 250th Anniversary commemorations in 2020.  Many land features or Landmarks that Cook named are shown in the wrong place on today’s maps.  Cook was always a stickler for accuracy and the 250th anniversary of his voyage provides an opportunity to correct these errors.


Lt James Cook’s did not just sprinkle place names on his chart.  His practical purpose in naming land features was to assist later navigators on the coast to determine their position.   Accordingly, the land features he named are prominent and usually easily recognised from well out to sea, being distinctive mountains or cliffs, notable islands or trends of the coast.  These features are truly Cook Landmarks.


Restoring Cook’s Legacy 2020 is a project of Australia on the Map (AOTM), the history and heritage division of the Australasian Hydrographic Society, and is managed by Australia on the Map Division. 


The Project aims to commemorate, in 2020, the 250th Anniversary of Lt James Cook’s exploration and charting of Australia’s east coast in 1770 by:



  • Identifying, from Cook’s primary data, the intended locations of his 28 named Landmarks on the coasts of Victoria and New South Wales.Most of these names still appear on today’s maps, but many are not attached to the land features that Cook intended.

  • Identifying the current official positions of these Landmarks, and any published material questioning their proper position.

  • Determining how errors and misunderstandings originated and who was responsible, and publishing the results.This phase of the project was recently completed (see Appendix 1).Nine errors or misunderstandings were identified.For the first time in nearly 250 years we now have an accurate public record of what Cook actually saw and named on the coasts of present day Victoria and New South Wales.



  • Enlisting the support and endorsement of key organisations as Supporting Partners to demonstrate wide support for the project objectives, and influence governments to act on renaming and heritage listing.Currently our Supporting Partners include Australian National Placenames Survey, Australasian Hydrographic Society, Captain Cook Society (Australia), Placenames Australia, South East History Group.

  • Creating a virtual James Cook Heritage Trail along the coasts of Victoria and New South Wales on a new website.

  • Raising awareness of the heritage values of the Cook Landmarks, many of which remain as they were in Cook’s time, to secure their heritage listing and protection.

  • Broadening understanding of Cook’s Legacy on these coasts through related talks, articles and events in the lead up to and during 2020.

  • Working to achieve the renaming of at least one of the misplaced Cook Landmarks in each of the three jurisdictions, Victoria (Ram Head), New South Wales, and Jervis Bay Territory (Cape St George).


Recent progress as at June 2018:

  • Submission to Office of Geographic Names, Victoria, with a proposal to rename Little Rame Head as Ram Head as Cook intended, March 2018.

  • An article ‘Lt James Cook on the coast of Victoria 1770’ in the June 2018 issue of Victorian Historical Journal (the refereed journal of record for Victoria).

  • A weekend to commemoratethe 250th anniversary of Lt James Cook’s departure from Plymouth on 25 August 1768 (passing Ram Head, Cornwall as he exited Plymouth Sound) was held at Mallacoota on 25/26 August 2018.  There was an illustrated talk ‘Lt James Cook on the coast of Victoria – a comedy of errors’ to more than 60 people, and walks to,and flights over, Cookfeatures in the area including remote Little Rame Head, the real Cook’s Ram Head, the first land feature named by Cook on the Australian coast.


Trevor Lipscombe

Project Manager – Restoring Cook’s Legacy 2020 Project

PO Box 40, Civic Square, ACT 2608


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