Point Danger

About this Item
SpeakersHartcher Mr Chris; Tripodi Mr Joseph
BusinessPrivate Members Statements, PRIV

Page: 6668

Mr CHRIS HARTCHER (Terrigal) [10.31 a.m.]: On many occasions throughout Australian and New South Wales history several significant landmarks have been renamed or had their names amended by the Geographical Names Board of New South Wales. Such was the case with Australia's largest mountain, Mount Kosciuszko. It was named in 1840 by the Polish explorer Count Paul Edmund Strzelecki after the Polish national hero, General Kosciuszko. Previously, the mountain was spelt without the "z" but the correct version was officially adopted and recognised by the Geographical Names Board in 1997 by inserting the "z" into "Kosciusko".

There is in fact another name that has been the subject of dispute between historians and the Geographical Names Board of New South Wales—the name is "Point Danger". A constituent of mine, Mr Ken Gold, brought to my attention the controversy that has surrounded the exact location of Point Danger for the past 38 years. Ken became involved in this debate four years ago and challenged the board to review the location of Cook's Point Danger. History suggests that in 1766 the Royal Society of London hired Captain James Cook to explore the Pacific Ocean. On 19 April 1770 he was the first known European to discover the eastern coastline of Australia.

After naming the famous Botany Bay, Captain Cook continued north along the Australian coastline and on 16 May 1770, after nearly running aground on a reef, he came upon what was named by him and is still known today as Mount Warning, which is inland to the east of the northern New South Wales point named Fingal Head. It is off that headland that Mount Warning, once a volcano, created a three-mile reef to an island off the coast. On the same day in the journal of the Endeavour Cook recorded:
      We now saw the breakers again they lay two Leagues from a point under which is a small Island, their situation may always be found by the peaked mountain before mentioned from them this mountain or hill, and on this account I have named Mount Warning it lies 7 or 8 Leagues inland the land is high and hilly about it, but it is conspicuous enough to be distinguished from everything else. The point off which these shoals lay I have named Point Danger.

The controversy seems to have begun in 1823 when a government surveyor, John Oxley, set out in the Mermaid to explore Port Curtis, the site of Gladstone. Whilst on that journey Oxley explored Moreton Bay, which had been named by Captain Cook, and the Brisbane River. Oxley also explored and named the Tweed River. It was on his return journey, travelling south, that Oxley pulled up along the now named Fingal Head and reported it as being Point Danger, so named by Captain James Cook. Oxley's favourable report on the Brisbane River saw him return the following year and establish the colony of Brisbane under the direction of Sir Thomas Brisbane, Governor of New South Wales in 1824.

At some time in 1828 Henry John Rous, travelling north, either on a duty voyage to Moreton Bay or his second trip to explore the northern rivers of New South Wales, charted the Tweed River, which he named the Clarence River, unaware that in 1823 it had been named the Tweed River by Oxley. Rous came up the eastern coastline and around the reef off the coast of the feature now known Fingal Head, and arrived at a place called Rainbow Bay, so named after his ship. It was there that Henry Rous has arguably caused all of the confusion. He named the, at the time, unnamed site of Point Danger as being that of Cook's Point Danger.

There was further confusion as to the location of Cook's Point Danger when in 1840 surveyor Robert Dixon was given the task of doing the first land survey of the area. Dixon was to map the New South Wales and Queensland border. He was told to map the border from the west to Point Danger on the east coast. Dixon took the location of Cook's Point Danger as being that of the one identified by Rous in 1828 rather than the one identified by Oxley in 1823. In 1970, on the 200th anniversary of Cook's naming of Point Danger and given that the location seemed to be correct, a memorial was placed at the current site and the New South Wales, Queensland and Federal governments combined to erect the Point Danger Captain Cook Memorial Lighthouse. In 1971, the following year, after much debate about the location of Cook's Point Danger and the Queensland-New South Wales border, the Geographical Names Board declared:

      little doubt exists that the feature named Point Danger by Captain Cook was in actual fact the feature now known as Fingal Head. However, as the name has been known in its present position for over 130 years and having in mind the wording of the letters Patent of 6 June, 1859, in which the position of the QLD-New South Wales border is linked with the position of Point Danger, the Board is not prepared to assign the name to any feature or position other than that to which it is currently located.

Some 18 years later, in November 1989, debate continued about the location and the Geographical Names Board approved a historical re-enactment of Cook's voyage. Its findings seemed to be consistent with the findings of Ron Benjamin, Acting Chief Surveyor, although no changes were made, which stated:

      From the re-enactment voyage, I now have no doubt that Captain Cook's, 'point of land under which lies a small island', was intended to be today's Fingal Head.

In 1998 the Geographical Names Board again reviewed the location and declared:

      It is the opinion of the Geographical Names Board Committee therefore that the present Point Danger is correctly designated.

Sometime in 2004 Mr Ken Gold from my electorate took up the debate about the naming of Cook's Point Danger and its location. After many years of hard work, travel, reports and correspondence with me, I am pleased to announce that today the Geographical Names Board has considered Mr Gold's efforts and announced that the official records for Point Danger and Fingal Head will be changed to reflect both the historical versions of the naming of Cook's Point Danger. I thank the Secretary of the Geographical Names Board, Mr Greg Windsor, for his assistance on this matter. [Time expired.]

Mr JOSEPH TRIPODI (Fairfield—Minister for Small Business, Minister for Regulatory Reform, and Minister for Ports and Waterways) [10.36 a.m.]: That was the most constructive contribution I have heard from the member for Terrigal in the 13 years that I have been a member of this House. He did a good job in bringing to the attention of the House the achievements of his local constituent. The Geographical Names Board offers a good opportunity for local residents who have passion and interest, and who have served local communities in many various and important ways, to be recognised in their local communities. The member has told of a fitting recognition of one constituent. In my electorate we often use name changes for bridges, roads or parks as ways of recognising local achievements.