Cook’s Legacy and the Modern Polly’s Folly

Given that acceptance of Aboriginal existence pre-colonisation has been so much later than it should have been, I found it apt that I gave my opinion on the anniversary of Cook’s first time visiting Oz a little bit late too. This piece, which is largely satire, was written with the good old aussie notion to call it like you see it, in mind.

The year was 1770, the month was April. Cook had arrived on a coast on the eastern side of what is now known as Australia (named so in 1901, over 100 years after colonisation) at a place now known as Botany bay and thought “yeah, I’ll pull up here for the night”.

He got his men to prepare his woody (similar to a tinny, but made of wood), and when they were done, it was time to row to shore.

On shore, while the sea-stricken men were rowing away, was some blackfellas. “Aye, what’s this here?” they thought, and as they then seemed to oppose Cook’s landing (why wouldn’t you?), Cook’s first instinct was to fire three shots at them. Supposedly not intended to cause great harm, but to scare them.

I must note, it seems strange here that Scooter Morrison is such a big fan of Cook. He was literally a boat person. You would really think he would be making a six-million-dollar statue of the Gweagal men that stood their grounds and seemingly said, “Nah mate, borders are fucking closed today” (That translation is pure conjecture).

It is this moment of white, privileged, ignorance that may have led to law of Terra Nullius being applied. Imagine being in Cook’s shoes when he got back to England? “what did you find there old matey?” says the King.

Cook, mulling that question over thinks to himself, “Well, there was someone there, but I scared them all away, what should I do, what shall I say” Before answering the king “There was no one, it was Terra Nullius.”

The English then set sail once more, bringing with them a shipload of ships, but what was their purpose? It was to establish a penal colony. What is that? You ask.

A penal colony is/was (do they still use those terms other than for the historical reference?) essentially a prison used to exile prisoners and separate them from the general population by placing them in a remote location, often an island or distant colonial territory. Sort of like Alcatraz? Or even, maybe, Rottnest Island – because if you didn’t know, that was a penal colony before it was a fun, popular tourist destination. But unlike the pubs and clubs of today, it was blackfella’s only, instead of the other way around.

You may see here and there, unscrupulous accusations that white Australia has no culture. Well, I am here to tell you they are not so unfounded. Let us be honest here shall we. The English came to build a penal colony. Which means prisoners, which means guards, which mean supplies, which means shops, which means shop assistants, which means payment, which means money, which means an economy. The English came to build an economy; and build they did. They tore through the land they found before them without a care in the world (and still do) and in the process destroyed hundreds of thousands of lives and hundreds of already existing nations.

But what they did not build was a culture. They just brought ‘some’ English culture with them (A cuppa and a scone old chap?), they also brought some Irish culture with them and probably a few others. But none of it is Australian culture. Just this year I witnessed some traditional English culture at a wedding, it was actually quite beautiful (Why didn’t they just bring the beautiful stuff and leave the racism at home?). And not long after that arrived Middle Eastern cultures, and Asian cultures. And more, and more, and more. Then everyone sort of kept to themselves. Or were forced to through racist as fuck laws.

But you can’t really blame anyone for there not building a culture though, who has time for that when you’re busy donating smallpox laden blankets to the local populace, cutting blackfella’s ears off and nailing them to your fucking walls and throwing people off of cliffs.

250 years later, and old Cookie and his fleet would be rolling in their bloody graves.

FLEET. Noun.  Several white, upper-class men, together. Use it in a sentence please. “Scott Morrison and his fleet failed to stop the Ruby Princess from disembarking, causing several deaths and thousands off COVID-19 related illnesses.”

Cook and his fleet came here to build a penal colony and establish an economy. In 2020, the economy is fucked and Scooter is dead set determined to keep his most prized prisoners on a whole ‘nother island (Rottnest, version 2.0?)

All in all, it seems like Cook’s dream is well, cooked, and the last person in the world the old sea dog would probably want honouring him, is a bloke that only got his role because of fucking mutiny.

Travis Akbar

Travis grew up on the west coast of South Australia and has been interested in film since seeing Jurassic Park and Predator for the first time in the mid-nineties. Particularly fond of the action and thriller genres, he met his long-time idol, Jean Claude Van Damme, in 2016, talking with 'the muscles from Brussels' about his upcoming films and the hurdles he has faced in the entertainment industry. Some of his favourite films include Jurassic Park, The Salton Sea, Apt Pupil and Any Given Sunday. Travis loves the way a film can make people feel such a diverse range of emotions, from excitement and happiness to fear and sadness. He believes that creativity is what helps the world evolve and that the arts, is the centre of creativity.

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