History, culture and beauty come together at the Kurnell Peninsula, the birthplace of modern Australia.
It was there, on the 29th of April, 1770, that Captain Cook and the crew of the Endeavour stepped ashore, stunning the local Dharawal people and changing Australian history forever.
Kurnell’s significance is explained in the fascinating Visitors’ Centre, where visitors learn how the Aboriginal inhabitants lived, why the British stopped there, and what it was about the ecology that so enthused botanist Joseph Banks and caused the area to be named Botany Bay.
With the education out of the way, it’s time to go for a walk! Historical landmarks aplenty are located near the museum. A plaque and monument can be found at Cook’s Landing Place, which is not far from the stream that provided drinking water for him and his men. There’s also an obelisk that has been erected in honour of the great navigator, as well as monuments to Banks, his colleague Joseph Solander and the sailor Forby Sutherland, who died of tuberculosis during the Endeavour's eight day sojourn.
The peninsula- which is situated within Botany Bay National Park- contains a collection of longer interpretive walks too. The kilometre-long Banks-Solander Track winds through a dense bush, using panels to highlight some of the unique plants that caused the two botanists no end of amazement. The Muru and Yena Tracks make a 2.5 kilometre loop, as they pass through the bush on the way to the Pacific Ocean. And for the energetic, there’s the scenic Henry Head Track, a comfortable five kilometre stroll to the Endeavour Lighthouse, where there are expansive views of Kurnell Peninsula and Botany Bay.
After all that learning and exercising, even the fittest are bound to be a bit weary! In that case, head to Commemoration Flat, the pretty park by the museum that is home to electric barbeques, picnic tables, bubblers and toilets. Lie back on the grass, cast your eyes out to sea…and soak up the history.