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Cook's Obelisk @ Discovery Park

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by glenop (subscribe)
So much to little time to see it all.
Published June 27th 2013
Discover this ‘ancient’ monument before it crumbles away
Weeds growing at Discovery Park in 2013

Most reviews encourage readers to visit a park because of its beautifully tendered gardens, family friendly facilities, outstanding natural beauty or wonderful views. In the case of Cook's Obelisk at Discovery Park in Liverpool, you should visit quick smart before this monument disappears, literally.

The sadly neglected Cook's Obelisk is a milestone indicating the distances to both Sydney and Campbelltown. But it is also significant as it is the oldest known monument to Captain Cook in Australia having first been erected on the corner of George and Elizabeth streets in Liverpool in 1854.

It was moved at some time to nearby Bigge Park, but being out of sight has proved perilous to the obelisk's condition. Despite its local and historical significance, the obelisk was neglected and allowed to deteriorate.

Cook's Obelisk at Bigge Park. Picture from the 'Town and Country Journal' 5 July 1905

As far back as 1905, it was reported that the obelisk was "a relic of bygone day's" which is "considerably weather worn and is hidden among a mass of trees". In 1915, the Herald reported that the "monument has an old and weathered appearance".

In 1917, the Cumberland Argus reported that the "battered obelisk with lettering on the stone which is nearly obliterated reads ''In memory of Captain Cook RN the celebrated navigator and discoverer of New South Wales Born in Marton Yorkshire October 27 1728; killed at the Sandwich Islands 11th February 17--. The remaining figures are broken off. The inscription also reads "Charles A Fitzroy KCB Governor General Campbelltown XIII Sydney XX".

Historian William Freame wrote to the editor at the Cumberland Argus in 1930 and said that it was "in a disgusting state of neglect". In 1931 the Herald observed that "at present it is standing in Bigge Park in a dilapidated state".

In 1970, the obelisk was moved again, this time to be the centrepiece of Discovery Park. This was Liverpool's contribution to the Bicentennial celebrations of the 'discovery' of Australia by Captain Cook. I'm showing my age here but I was there (a very young boy of course) at the opening. I lived nearby and I can remember the pomp and ceremony with dignitaries, a brass band and a grand unveiling of the newly restored obelisk. While the monument had already lost almost half its original height by then and they were not able to reassemble the remaining pieces in the correct order, at least both the upper and lower inscriptions were legible.

cook discovery park
Official opening of Discovery Park in 1970. Note the restored inscription and how is was reassembled incorrectly. Photo courtesy Liverpool library collection

But as you can see from the recent photographs below, this sadly neglected monument is now in a far worse state of dilapidation than ever. The upper inscription has completely eroded away and the milestone inscription is barely legible. It's had a few more pieces knocked off the top and has been vandalised with graffiti. It's no longer surrounded by flower beds but by weeds.

The upper inscription is totally obliterated

The lower milestone section

There's talk of council having it restored but how was it allowed to deteriorate to this appalling condition? Restoring it, if that is possible, may see it removed and stored at the council's depot while they consider what to do with it. This could be a permanent move.

So if you want to see this weathered and battered 159 year old monument to Captain Cook before it erodes to dust or just disappears for good, get out to Discovery Park, but don't muck around.

The sad old monument in 2010
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Why? Before it's too late
When: Now
Where: Liverpool
Cost: Free
Your Comment
It is a shame that something like that was allowed to get into that state.
by Bryony Harrison (score: 4|12622) 2681 days ago
Does anyone write to the Council and ask for it to be given attention? I don't live within co-ee of this but that's what I'd be doing. Also they do need to correct the structure. That should be part of the job! What about the National Trust as well. Something needs to be done!
by Margaret (score: 0|6) 2678 days ago
I was unaware of this monument but will go and see it. Very sad to hear of its state but very typical of the council.
by larah (score: 0|8) 2679 days ago
That's very sad to see! Thanks for bringing it to our attention.
by Cornelia Deller (score: 2|182) 2677 days ago
What a shame that it has been left to rot to this condition! I shall visit this site asap! Was totally unaware of this monument! Yes the concil is pathetic and i agree, it should be looked after by the NationalTrust!
by bandi (score: 1|16) 2676 days ago
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