‘Stop the Captain Cook boat’

Protesters occupy the National Maritime Museum on February 23. Photo: John Janson-Moore/johnjansonmoore.com

“Stop the Boat! Don’t Be a Cooksucker!” chanted about 100 people outside the National Maritime Museum, at Darling Harbour on February 23.

The protest was called by Redfern Aboriginal Tent Embassy (RATE) and University of Sydney Autonomous Collective Against Racism, and chaired by First Nations activist Lizzie Jarrett, to protest the federal government’s colonial re-enactment of Captain James Cook’s landing 250 years ago.

Millions are being spent on building a replica of the Endeavour to circumnavigate Australia.

The replica’s departure has been delayed along with the re-enactment of the colonial Encounters 2020/21 project, but First Nations people are preparing their protest for April 28, the anniversary of Cook first entering Botany Bay.

Speakers also called for an end to white colonisation.

Jenny Munro, leader of the campaign to save Aboriginal housing in Redfern, said: “We are paying the price of invasion to this day. This voyage is a pretend boat on the pretend mission, which never actually took place.

“It took great Aboriginal people like Pemulwuy to rise in resistance against the British invasion of Australia. Pemulwuy fought a brave resistance against the colonialists for 12 years, before he was killed and beheaded in a brutal fashion.

“This Cook reenactment project is a $7 million waste of public money on a fake trip during the worst bushfires in our history. First Nations peoples need to regain custody and show there is another history which really looked after this country,” Munro said.

After the speeches, protesters occupied the entry hall to the Maritime Museum chanting: “Always was, always will be, Aboriginal land!”