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Reproduced courtesy of Neil Murray

On a Day Such as This

Date: 2011
Display dimensions: 700 × 520 × 20 mm
Overall: 698 × 518 × 20 mm
Medium: Pencil on paper
Credit Line: ANMM Collection
Object Copyright: © Neil Murray
Object Name: Text on paper
Object No: 00054577
Related Place:Possession Island,

User Terms

    Written work titled 'On a Day Such as This' by Neil Murray.

    Written text from the Neil Murray's visit to Cooktown were he remagines in his writing the ENDEAVOUR making first contact with the Guguu Yimithirr people. Murray also comments on the luck of Cook and his crew to have landed on the southern bank of the Wahalumbaal River (now the Endeavour River), a safe place between the Kuku Yolanji and Gugug Yimithirr, a place of talking not fighting. The site of the first forms of reconciliation.

    SignificanceThese words by Neil Murray give a contemporary perspective on first contact and the impact of European colonisation. The words, as part of East Coast Encounters, is a voice in a shared story, re-imagined by Australian Indigenous and non-Indigenous artists, to encourage cultural dialogue and promote reconciliatory understanding.
    History"On a Day such as This

    From the crest of a grassy hill
    when the wattle blooms are jostled and tossed
    by the freshening sou-easter
    On a day such as this
    a tall square ship limped into view

    A sail bandage fathered her hull
    while she sought for refuge and repairs
    that would await her
    in the mouth of a certain river
    into the lee of a grassy hill

    But at this time of year
    in the second week of June 1770
    or any year since - such as June 12th 2011
    The wind - being such a capricious thing
    of unknown agent, persists

    and would have her wait
    three days for gales to subside
    before it was safe to run into that sheltered river
    and bestow her name upon it -
    The Endeavour

    and beach the shattered hull
    on the southern bank
    - as providence would favour
    a safe place between the nations
    of Kuku Yolanji and Gugug Yimithirr

    And the eyes that witnessed her arrival
    from the crest of a grassy hill
    came down to see what the ocean
    had brought them this time "
    - Neil Murray

    After the Cook and his crew managed to float the HMB ENDEAVOUR off the reef, it was essential that repairs to the damaged hull were carried out as soon as possible. A safe haven was desperately needed and one was found at the mouth of a neraby river which Cook was to name Endeavour River.
    Here, the ship was unloaded, a shore camp established and repairs began. This stay would end up being a seven week visit during which time contact was made with the Guguu Yimithirr people.
    Initially the Guguu Yimithirr were wary of the arrivals yet over time the excahnges were positive and Sydney Parkinson was able to record some of the local language, including names for what they were seeing such as the 'gangurru' (kangaroo).
    The relationship between the British and the Guguu Yimithirr altered however over a dispute over the number of turtles the ENDEAVOUR crew caught and their reluctance to share the food with the locals. The dispute was resolved on both sides but not before a fires were lit and a shot fired.

    In his words, Neil Murray refers to the area as being a recognized non-conflict space between the local Kuku Yolanji and Gugug Yimithirr people, a significant place that was not aware of when he landed.

    This work by Neil Murray was produced for East Coast Encounter, a multi-arts initiative involving Australian Indigenous and non-Indigenous artists, writers and songwriters to re-imagine the encounter by Lieutenant James Cook and his crew with Indigenous people in 1770.

    Cook's voyage along the Australian east coast has become central to national historical narratives. The East Coast Encounter project asked artists to re-envisage this seminal journey by imaginatively exploring moments of contact between two world views during these encounters. It also brought these events into the present by incorporating artists' reflections on their relevance today, and their responses to visits to significant contact locations. Topics such as encounter, impact, differing perspectives, nature and culture and views of country are investigated.

    Additional Titles

    Primary title: On a Day Such as This

    Collection title: East Coast Encounters collection

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