19/08/2020 2:15 PM AEST

Steven Oliver Challenges Australia’s Blurred Vision Of Captain Cook With New Documentary

‘Looky Looky Here Comes Cooky’ is giving Australia’s idea of Captain Cook the myth busters treatment.

What’s This Then? Steven Oliver Challenges Australia’s Blurred Vision Of Captain Cook With New Documentary

Don’t look now, Scott Morrison but the story of your beloved Captain Cook is getting the myth busters treatment, with a musical documentary hosted by comedian Steven Oliver and featuring a string of Australia’s most creative First Nations performers.  

To mark the 250th anniversary of the arrival of James Cook, the Prime Minister had planned to spend more than $60 million of taxpayer money marking the colonisation of Australia with a series of events.  It was Morrison’s plan to “help Australians better understand Captain Cook’s historic voyage” and “rediscover” the explorer because he “gets a bit of a bad show.”  

But many of the plans have been cancelled due to COVID-19 and instead we have the timely NITV production ‘Looky Looky Here Comes Cooky’ that gives audiences the chance to view the arrival of Cook’s HMB Endeavour through First Nations people’s eyes. 

Universal History Archive via Getty Images
Captain Cook's vessel beached at the entrance of Endeavour River, where the seaport of Cooktown now stands. From an engraving in the Atlas of Cook's first Voyage. 

“When it comes to Cook, we only ever see the view from the ship, we don’t see the view from the shore,” presenter, co-writer and slam poet Steven told HuffPost Australia.  

“The most shocking thing I learnt was that actually Cook shot people.”  

While Cook shot his rifle at First Nations people at Botany Bay before he even left his ship, Steven explained what really happened when Cook later hit the Great Barrier Reef near Cooktown

The Captain and his crew tried to emulate local eating customs of the Guugu Yimidhirr but were hunting female turtles, which is not sustainable and against tradition. Steven explained that when an Aboriginal man tried to free the female turtles, “stereotyping Cook” thought the man was “stealing” and shot him in the leg.  

While this could have sparked a war, the elders and Cook’s crew met on sacred ground, now known as Reconciliation Rocks, where an elder broke his spear in half and gave it to Cook as a peace offering. 

Ann Ronan Pictures/Print Collector/Getty Images
Captain James Cook taking possession of New South Wales in the name of the British Crown, 1770.

“That little old man came up with the blueprint of how modern Australia should be dealing with issues of Indigenous people by giving us the voice,” Guugu Yimidhirr man Harold Ludwick told Steven in the documentary.   

Another surprise for viewers may be the secret instructions to Cook from King George III to only take possession of this new land “with the consent of the Natives.”  This is the same consent that was never asked or given. 

“I should get on the phone and tell the education department ’you should put this on the curriculum,” Steven laughed.  

“When I was at high school, we only learned colonial history.  Aboriginal people might be eight pages of a 200-page book and you only see Aboriginal people spearing each other.”

Steven added “there is an invisibility and erasure around Aboriginal history,” and this documentary is here to challenge that.  

Watch ‘Looky Looky Here Comes Cooky’ with performances from First Nations creatives including ARIA award-winning hip hop performer/producer and A.B. Original cofounder Trials, rapper Birdz, singers Mo’Ju, Alice Skye and Kev Carmody on NITV and SBS Viceland Thursday 20 August at 8.30pm.

Trials filming 'Looky Looky Here Comes Cooky' on location in Raukkan, South Australia.
Singer/songwriter Alice Syke on location filming 'Looky Looky Here Comes Cooky' in Gariwerd, Victoria