Captain Cook's visit to Savu

In 1770, Captain James Cook visited Savu, staying three days before continuing on to Batavia. It was the first European voyage to have scientists on board. During the three year expedition, botanists Joseph Banks and Daniel Solander collected over three thousand five hundred plant species along with specimens of animals, minerals and ethnographic materials that on their return fascinated Europeans.

Cook’s visit to Savu was brief and, though he and Joseph Banks produced detailed records of the island and its people, their accounts were based for the most part on information provided by Mr Lange, the German representative of the Dutch East India Company, who was stationed on Savu at the time.

Historical documents:

  • Chief's house on Savu: This pen and wash drawing was done by Sydney Parkinson, who accompanied Captain Cook on his 1768-1771 voyage of the South Seas.
  • Cook's journal: 21st September 1770: "Before we proceed any farther it will be proper in this place to say something of the island we have been last at, which is call'd by the Natives Savu..."
  • Description of Savu, its Produce and Inhabitants: "This island is called by the natives SAVU; the middle of it lies in about the latitude 10° 35’ S., longitude 237° 30’ W.; and has in general been so little known that I never saw a map or chart in which it is clearly or accurately laid down...."
  • Banks’ journal: 20st September 1770: "In the morning early the Captain went ashore himself to purchase Buffeloes. He was shewn two, one of which they valued at five guineas the other a musquet; he offerd 3 guineas for the one and sent for a musquet to give for the other...."
  • The Endeavour departs Savu: "In the morning of Friday the 21st of September, 1770, we got under sail, and stood away to the westward, along the north side of the island of Savu, and of the smaller that lies to the westward of it [Rai Jua], which at noon bore from us S.S.E. distant two leagues."


  • New Endeavour: A modern journey to revisit the landfalls made by Captain James Cook during his famous first Pacific voyage in HMS Endeavour (1768-1771).
  • South Seas: Voyaging and cross-cultural encounters in the Pacific (1760-1800).
  • Captain James Cook (1728-1779): Celebrated North Country Navigator.

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