Captain Cook’s Cottage can be found in an established section of the Fitzroy Gardens in Melbourne. Captain James Cook was a sailor/navigator who made three extensive journeys of discovery for the British government in the late 1700’s. He was the first to map the eastern coast of Australia and in those days of colonialisation claimed Australia for the British in 1770.
The cottage, built in 1755, was certainly the home of his parents, in Great Ayton in Yorkshire, but at best he probably only stayed in it when on leave from the navy. However in 1933 the cottage came on the market in England and after some negotiations was purchased by businessman, Russell Grimwade (later Sir) and disassembled and transported to Melbourne where it was re-assembled in the Fitzroy Gardens. Ivy cuttings from the site in England were also re-planted and grow across the brickwork. The cottage is a two storey building with one large room at each level and several smaller rooms leading off them. Furnishings are of the period but only one item, a small box is probably Captain Cook’s.
We were glad we live nowadays when we saw the small rooms and the beds.
Over the years the cottage has been a popular tourist attraction. In 1978 it underwent some restoration work. Today it is popular not only with Melbournians, Australians and British but increasing numbers of tourists from Asia.
A friend of ours, whose surname is coincidentally Cook, works as a volunteer each week and every second week dresses in period costume and acts as a guide. Visitors can also dress in period costume whilst visiting, and many do so, making sure they have a photo with the statue of Cook found within the grounds of the cottage. The herb and vegetable garden is typical of the late 1700’s but it is doubtful the Cooks would have had as extensive an array as is on display now.
The small room at the back has a wide ranging display, detailed maps and a TV with DVD about Captain Cook running but we felt it was a bonus to receive specific information from an official guide and felt particularly special that we knew her. It is certainly worth a visit if you are in Melbourne.