BBC Learning Zone Clips

CLIP 12108

The first meeting of Europeans and indigenous Australians, 1770 (audio)

The first meeting of Europeans and indigenous Australians, 1770 (audio)
Key Info
  • The first meeting of Europeans and indigenous Australians, 1770 (audio)
  • Duration: 13:00
  • Neil MacGregor tells the story of the bark sheild, brought back to Britain by the first Europeans to land at Botany Bay, Australia, in the 18th century. Indigenous Australians did not write, so their story is told through the artefacts that have survived. There are readings from Captain Cook’s log and the diary of botanist Joseph Banks, describing the reaction of the people at the bay to the arrival of the Europeans. Neil MacGregor then describes the sheild in detail, explaining how its materials and design are suited to its purpose and the environment in which it would be used. Phil Gordon describes the way of life for aboriginals at the time, the environment and climate were good, encouraging the development of civilisation beyond simple survival. Neil MacGregor describes the cultural misunderstandings between the Europeans and Australians in that first meeting. Historian Maria Nugent describes Cook's legacy as either one of adventure and exploration or of colonisation and racism. Neil MacGregor closes by expressing the hope that the bark shielf and similar objects may play a part in nurturing greater cultural understanding between people, and in recovering some of the lost history of indigenous peoples around the world. This clip was first broadcast on BBC Radio 4 as part of the ‘History of the World in 100 Objects’ series. Please note this is an audio clip and only available in Flash.
  • Subject:



    Empires and Decolonisation

  • Keywords: Australia, colonialism, colonisation, Captain Cook, geography, citizenship, Aborigines, primary evidence, British Empire, History of the World
Ideas for use in class
  • Students can have a text version of Cook’s log entries (and other sources related) and they should consider how accurate Cook’s and Banks’ description of Australia was after their initial encounters? Could cross link to citizenship and geography. Images of the object and further information, including a full transcription of the programme, can be found on the programme page:
Background details
  • Clip language : English
  • Aspect ratio : 16x9

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