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1773 Cook Map of New South Wales, Australia

A Chart of New South Wales, or the East Coast of New-Holland. Discovered and explored by Lieutenant J. Cook, Commander of His Majesty's Bark Endeavour, in the year MDCCLXX. - Main View

1773 Cook Map of New South Wales, Australia


The first map of New South Wales Australia!


A Chart of New South Wales, or the East Coast of New-Holland. Discovered and explored by Lieutenant J. Cook, Commander of His Majesty's Bark Endeavour, in the year MDCCLXX.
  1773 (dated 1770)     15 x 31.25 in (38.1 x 79.375 cm)     1 : 4500000


This seminal 1773 first edition map by James Cook is the first map of New South Wales, Australia. Oriented to the West, the map extends from Cape York, Prince of Wales Island, and the Endeavour Straits to Point Hicks (Victoria). The map is a product of Cook's search for the often speculated upon southern continent or 'Terra Australis,' which scholars from the 16th century on believed, based upon ancient Greek texts, must exist at the base of the world.

After observing the Transit of Venus on June 3, 1769, Cook sailed westward, planning to return to England via the Cape of Good Hope, as he believed the Endeavour would not survive a second trip around Cape Horn. Instead he sailed west, where he hoped to discover Terra Australis. He sailed around New Zealand and headed for Tasmania, intending to follow up on Abel Tasman's work, when gales forced him northward. On April 19, 1770, his second, Zachary Hicks, signed land, what Cook immediately named Point Hicks. While Cook was most certainly aware he had not discovered 'Terra Australis', he did spend several months, from April 19 to August 22, 1770, mapping long sought east coast of New Holland (Australia), what he came to call New South Wales. He proceeded northwards, navigating the coast with great care, naming notable locations along the way.

It is of note that the coasts between Cape Flattery and Weymouth remains unmapped. This area is so full of small islands and dangerous reefs that Cook aptly named it 'The Labyrinth.' Just as he entered this area, near Cape Tribulation, the Endeavour struck a reef. On our map there is a note reading, 'On this ledge the ship laid 23 hours.' Rather than risk his ship further Cook sailed the Endeavour further out to sea, around the perilous reefs, landing at Cape York to officially name New South Wales and claim the land for England,
I now once more hoisted English Coulers and in the Name of His Majesty King George the Third took possession of the whole Eastern Coast from the above Latitude [38] down to this place by the name of New South Wales, together with all the Bays, Harbors, Rivers, and Island s situate upon the said coast. (Cook, J., Journal, August 22, 1770)
Until this time it was assumed that Australia, or New Holland as it was known, was a barren wasteland, as the Dutch navigators had explored only a small part of the arid western coast. Cook on the other hand, sailed up the fertile east coast, and was impressed by what he saw. It was Cook who recommended settlement and persuaded Joseph Banks to argue for using the remote continent as a penal colony. This map is significant for Australia collectors as the first definitive mapping of the coasts of New South Wales. Cook's nomenclature largely remains in use today. The map notes both Botany Bay and Port Jackson.
Publication History and Census
This map was engraved by William Whitchurch (Bartholomew Lane, Royal Exchange) for James Hawkesworth's 1773 account of Cook's voyages An Account of the Voyages Undertaken by the Order of His Present Majesty for making Discoveries in the Southern Hemisphere. While Hawkesworth's work was printed in 1773, this map was most likely engraved in 1772, given the Whitchurch 'Bartholomew Lane' imprint. There are known editions in English, French, and German. While well represented institutionally, this map is rare to the market, especially, as here, it its first English edition.


Captain James Cook (7 November 1728 - 14 February 1779) is a seminal figure in the history of cartography for which we can offer only a cursory treatment here. Cook began sailing as a teenager in the British Merchant Navy before joining the Royal Navy in 1755. He was posted in America for a time where he worked Samuel Holland, William Bligh, and others in the mapping of the St. Lawrence River and Newfoundland. In 1766 Cook was commissioned to explore the Pacific and given a Captaincy with command of the Endeavour. What followed were three historic voyages of discovery, the highlights of which include the first European contact with eastern Australia, the discovery of the Hawaiian Islands (among many other Polynesian groups), the first circumnavigation of New Zealand, some of the first sightings of Antarctica, the first accurate mapping of the Pacific Northwest, and ultimately his own untimely death at the hands of angry Hawaiians in 1779. The influence of Cook work on the mapping and exploration of the Pacific cannot be understated. More by this mapmaker...

William Whitchurch (April 1748 - February 1794) was a British line engraver and printer active in London and Chichester in the second half of the 18th century. Whitchurch was born at St. Andrew Holborn. He apprenticed to the London engraver Joseph Ellis (1734 - c. 1800) from 1762. Whitchurch engraved maps for Cook, Dalrymple, Lerpinière, and others. Learn More...


Hawkesworth, J., An Account of the Voyages Undertaken by the Order of His Present Majesty for Making Discoveries in the Southern Hemisphere…, (London: W. Strahan and T. Cadell) 1773.    


Very good. Original fold lines. Minor centerfold wear and toning.


OCLC 221881398. Australia in Maps, (National Library of Australia), page 51. National Library of Australia, MAP T 325. Tooley, R.V. (Australia) 325, pl.20. Tooley, R.V., Bricker, C.; Crone, Gerald Roe, Landmarks of Mapmaking; an Illustrated Survey of Maps and Mapmakers, p.263. Clancy, R. 6.33. Perry, T. M., and Prescott, D. F., A Guide to Maps of Australia in Books Published 1780-1830, 1773.02.