On This Day …

14th July, 1770 (tomorrow)

‘Kangaroo’ George Stubbs (John Hawkesworth, An account of the Voyages undertaken by the order of His present Majesty, for making discoveries in the southern hemisphere, 1773)

The Endeavour had been badly damaged on the Great Barrier Reef and Captain Cook had to make a landing in order to repair his ship. So, he and the crew spent a couple of months on the North Queensland coast. This gave Joseph Banks, the resident botanist, plenty of time to study the local wildlife.

Imagine their surprise when they first encountered this large hopping beast. Perhaps they thought it was a giant rabbit. I’m sure they’d never seen anything like it before. I wonder, did they fear it? Did they think it beautiful?

It seems one of the crewman shot the kangaroo. Obviously this gave them opportunity to study it in more detail — including tasting its meat. They took some skin and bones home to England where artist George Stubbs created an image using these materials as a reference point. The image here is what he created and was inserted into An Account of the Voyages Undertaken by the Order of His Present Majesty, 1773.

And so this day is recorded as the first European sighting of the kangaroo, and its name was derived from an aboriginal word for the same.

Can you remember your first encounter with a kangaroo? What did you think?

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Published in: on 13th July, 2012 at 10:34 am  Comments (4)  
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4 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. You’ve got me imagining the sight from their point of view. What a weird critter it must have looked! It would’ve reinforced just how strange the other side of the world seemed to them.
    For my own part, being brought up as an Aussie kid, I’m sure I only ever took kangaroos at face value, the same as elephants and birds, and never thought it strange at all. That, in itself, is interesting.
    Around last summer holidays we had a nasty collision with one at night between Mt Gambier and the Victorian border, which just hopped out on the road ahead of us and there was no way we could have avoided him. It’s given me a bit of trepidation about driving along southern coastal roads at night.

    • Eww. Yes, it’s not fun when you hit a roo. Especially if you only hurt them. Not fun at all.

  2. Reminds me of the good ole’ Aussie dish, Slippery Bob! I wouldn’t eat it, but many must have as it’s in old cook books. Is it wrong to admit I do like a kangaroo meat gourmet sausage though?

    Too late… ;/

    • I won’t judge you Dots. ;P Actually the first time I ate kangaroo, I didn’t know I was – I just thought it was a really yummy hamburger patty. You have to get the good cuts though – some roo meat is really chewy.


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