Captain James Cook, claimed discoverer of the east coast of Australia, was one of England's ablest navigators and an astronomer of note. He set out in the a ship the "Endeavour" in 1768, bound for Tahiti, in order to make observations of the planet Venus. His orders, also provided for charting the coasts of New Zealand and searching for "the Great South Land". Leaving New Zealand in March, 1770, Cook sighted the south-east coast of Australia a few weeks later. He discovered and named Botany Bay, carefully explored and mapped the coast northward, and finally, on Possession Island in Torres Strait, took possession of the whole eastern coast, naming it New South Wales. On a later voyage, he proved that there was no large continent between New Zealand and South America, thus removing an old misconception. He was killed by natives in the Sandwich Islands in 1779.
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