“Notwithstand[ing] I had in the Name of His Majesty taken possession of several places upon this coast, 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 by the name New South Wales, together with all the Bays, Harbours Rivers and Islands situate upon the said coast, after which we fired three Volleys of small Arms which were Answered by the like number from the Ship.”
Captain James Cook, on this day 22nd August 1770.
After sighting land near Point Hicks in the south eastern coast, Cook went on to chart the east coast of what was then known as New Holland, mapping numerous inlets and bays as he headed north. On 22 August 1770, at Possession Island in Torres Strait, Cook claimed the eastern coast of the continent for Great Britain under the name of New South Wales.
The territory he claimed included “the whole eastern coast, from latitude 38 degrees S to this place, latitude 10.5 degrees S, in right of His Majesty King George the Third”. This essentially meant just the eastern parts of what are now New South Wales, Victoria and Queensland.
In 2001 the Kaurareg people successfully claimed native title rights over the island (and other nearby islands).
Captain Cook takes formal possession of New South Wales 1770 - Possession Island (Queensland) - (Source Wikipedia, Image: Public domain)