In 1770, James Cook and his crew aboard the HMS Endeavour became the first Europeans to set foot on the east coast of the continent now called Australia. Among those aboard the Endeavour were the captain, Lieutenant James Cook, naturalists Joseph Banks and Daniel Solander and artist Sydney Parkinson. From April to August 1770 they charted the east coast, collecting and sketching botanical and animal specimens.
The Navigating History stamp issue marks the 250th anniversary of this journey. The stamp designs seek to evoke curiosity, deepen understanding and amplify the story of the peoples and cultures that had thrived in Australia for 60,000 years, prior to the landing of the Endeavour.
The stamp issue is conceived as five vertical pairs representing the overlapping narratives of the Endeavour voyage and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture and knowledge. The continuous scene depicted across the five stamp pairs weaves and flows together, representing a dialogue of corresponding themes of sky, land, people, plants and the future. Two distinct artwork styles are combined and contrasted to bring the scene together (Meet the designers of Navigating History). Contemporary, intimate line art and a subtle colour palette are used to recognise the European explorers’ skills in navigation and botany, while the images of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures pulse with boldness and vibrancy. The visual narrative aims to create respect, insight and understanding of the multiple stories, lives and cultures that intersected at the time of the Endeavour’s Pacific voyage.
- Issue date
- Issue withdrawal date
- $1.10 x 5
- Stamp design
- Gilimbaa Creative Agency
- Product design
- Gilimbaa Creative Agency
- Paper: gummed
- Tullis Russell 104gsm Red Phosphor/Blue PVA Stamp Paper
- Paper: self-adhesive
- Arconvert Securepost / MC 90 Phosphor Coated/Cprint 100/ P10P
- RA Printing
- Printing process
- Offset lithography
- Stamp size (mm)
- 26 x 75
- Presentation sheetlet size (mm)
- 170 x 210
- 13.86 x 14.6
- Sheet layout
- Module of 5
- FDI Postmark
- Botany NSW 2109
- FDI withdrawal date
Cook is fulfilling his commission by the Royal Society of London to observe the transit of Venus across the sun. Above is the constellation of the Southern Cross, used for navigation by Europeans and holding great cultural significance for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. The fifth-brightest star, Ginan, represents a red dilly-bag filled with special songs of knowledge.
The Endeavour sails across the oceans to an island busy with activity. Lines show the routes of Macassan trading ships to the north and 17th-century Dutch visits in the west. The tracks across the continent show how our national highways have been shaped by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander trading pathways.
Depicted as an ordinary man rather than as a hero, James Cook is shown resting on a rock after making landfall on the east coast of the continent. The objects he collected, as well as the land’s connection to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture, are referenced by the shield and the culturally appropriate depiction of family and ancestors.
The Banksia encapsulates the many layers of understanding First Nation Peoples had from studying native plants and animals. This included using the plant as a water filter and needle. Botanist Joseph Banks and naturalist Daniel Solander are shown collecting scientific specimens of the plant, which was later named in honour of Banks.
In late 1770, after achieving its mission of mapping and discovery, the Endeavour departed the continent through the Torres Strait. The ship’s route along the coastline of northern Australia is shown alongside a compass embedded with culture. This represents our search for new ways to navigate our complex history. Only by reflecting on the last 250 years can we navigate our way into the future.