Captain Cook Statue Sydney

Captain Cook Statue Sydney, Hyde Park, Australia

Public Art : Captain Cook Statue

Sculptor : © Thomas Woolner (December 17, 1825 – October 7, 1892)

Cast By : Cox & Sons, Thomas Ditton Foundary (England).

Date Unveiled: The statue was officially unveiled by the Governor Sir Hercules Robinson, on Tuesday 25th February, 1879.

Cost : £4400

Funded By : Public Subscription and Government Grants.

Description : The larger than life bronze statue of Captain Cook stands on a cylindrical granite shaft and tiered granite base. The statue faces towards Sydney Heads and depicts Cook holding a telescope in his left hand, whilst proudly pointing his right hand skywards. Note his right foot is hanging over the granite shaft. The statue was erected to commemorate Captain Cook's discovery of the east coast of Australia in 1770.

Location : North eastern section of Hyde Park, Sydney, Australia

Inscription :

Captain Cook
This statue was erected by public subscription
assisted by a grant from the New South Wales Government


This tablet was restored by
the Yorkshire Society of NSW
as their tribute to the memory of
Captain James Cook 1906

History of The Captain Cook Statue : Poor old colony didn't have a lasting memory of its founder, Captain James Cook, so in 1869 the Australian Patriotic Association set about to right a wrong and erect a statue. They were hoping that the statue would be completed in time to correspond with a visit by Prince Albert, but they were wrong (ten years too wrong). The statue would take ten years to complete, due to a shortage of fund and just in time to  mark the hundredth anniversary of Cook’s death in Hawaii. . The Australian Patriotic Association formed a committee and on the 12th August, 1870, they gathered to discuss how they would raise the funds. The meeting sooned turned from funding to rather more pressing matters, like whether they should erect an iron palisade fence around the statue or whether it should be cast in England or locally (despite the fact they had no possible means of casting it here). The Colonial Secretary, Henry Parkes, at this stage intervened and organised English sculptor Thomas Woolner to send a quote (which was accepted, despite the exorbitant cost). On its completion, in 1878, the statue was briefly displayed opposite the Athenaeum Club in Waterloo Place, Pall Mall, before being shipped to Sydney. It was estimated that over 60,000 people turned out for the unveiling of the statue and 12,000 people joined the procession (which makes me wonder why it took so long to raise the money for it ?). But a good day was had by all.

What They Didn't Tell You About the Base of the Statue : Okay, I had to dig deep for this one, but I did find a funny story about the granite base of the statue. Seeing that the locals lost out on making the statue, they were compensated by getting to build the base (whoopee). The 15 tonne block of stone was quarried from Louitt’s quarry (who also supplied the granite for Sydney Harbour Bridge pylons) at Moruya (about 200km away). Now, in those days it was no easy feat moving a chunk of rock that big, so they ended up having to roll the sucker to the awaiting schooner, Settler’s Friend. The block was loaded onto the ship's upper deck, making it a little top heavy (to say the least) and incredibly difficult to steer. All would have been fine if they had managed to stay clear of any other vessels in the water. But no, another ship, coming in the opposite direction, didn't see the lobsided schooner and consequently they collided. They hit with such force that the two ships were stuck together but if it wasn't for the crew who used axes to separate them they would have surely all met with a watery end (and that damn rock would have become their headstone). The schooner eventually limped back to Sydney with a none too happy captain and a big rock barely hanging on board .

Trivia : The day the statue was unveiled, Tuesday 25th February, 1879, was declared a public holiday, so everyone could come and watch the unveiling (remember, no TV in those days!).

The location of Hyde Park was specially chosen because of its elevated height, making it visble from everywhere, including Sydney Harbour . In fact, it became a landmark for sea captains who would look for it as they entered Sydney Cove (that was prior to the highrises, of course).

The colony struggled to raise the needed money for the statue , so a cheeky Sir Alfred Stephen wrote to the British Government requesting it be gifted to the colony, in recognition of the services the English navigator had given to his country. The Government politely said, stick it.

The English sculptor,Thomas Woolner, was no stranger to Australia, he came out during the goldrush in 1852 to try his luck. Luck was tried and he went home 2 years later (a tad poorer for the experience). Hmm, I wonder if that was why he charged the earth for the Captain Cook statue?

Compare all of Australia's Captain Cook Statues:

Captain Cook Statue, Melbourne  Captain Cook Statue Sydney, Hyde Park, Australia

Captain Cook (Melbourne)      Captain Cook (Sydney)


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