SENIOR surveyor at Taree firm McGlashan and Crisp Surveyors, Greg Crisp, said Captain Cook did not name Black Head (north of Forster), as reported in the Manning River Times on Friday, May 15.
The report said that Monday May 11 was the 250th anniversary of Cook naming Black Head during his voyage up the East Coast of Australia in 1770. Not so, according to Greg.
From a surveyor's background (we like making and looking at maps) and the fact I consider Lieutenant or Captain Cook to be the father of modern surveying with respected legendary status, I have reviewed a few charts and maps accordingly to try and help resolve this history of Black Head.
Yes, Cook did name a point called Black Head, however this is clearly identified as Broughton Island from his chart. I attach a copy of both the transcript by Blair of the naming of places on his voyage up this coastline in May 1770 and on the attached chart you can see Cook's track in the Endeavour and his plot of the coastline from his running survey.
Clearly the name Black Head was before Cape Hawke naming. We need to keep in mind that even though Cook was probably the best navigator in the world at this time, he still used a sextant for his observations of latitude and longitude off the ship. (Imagine what Cook would have achieved if he had a GPS. We would still be using his charts!).
His latitudes were reasonably accurate, given a moving ship, and the almanac for the sun declinations was pretty good even back in those days. His latitudes compared with today's accurate knowns were only about up to 2 nautical miles different as you can see in Blair's documentation (attached). As far as I can gather Lt Cook and his Officer Green carried out more accurate lat and long obs when they were at Botany Bay and Cooktown on land using a telescope to observe the position of the moons of Jupiter or Mercury. I have no idea how this was done, but some smart blokes back then had developed these almanacs to try and find an accurate way of finding longitude.
There was something like a 10,000 quid reward back then and a bloke called Harrison won it under controversy when he invented the chronometer. Cook would have then interpolated his observations gained on board while running up the coast. I reckon he would have set his clock (a good watch, but not a chronometer) to the Botany Bay observed longitude and used this to observe his longitude up the coast and checked again at Cooktown. His longitudes were not too bad given that from my knowledge, he did not have one of those good Harrison chronometers on this voyage. But let's not worry about longitudes as our coast is generally north south sort of, so it is the comparison of the latitudes that we are able to say with certainty that Cook's Black Head is at Broughton Island.
The other thing to imagine is that this cruise up the coast in 1770 was blind. He had no charts or knowledge of this coast at all. Therefore all navigation was from the mast head looking for reefs etc. He stood off the coast a fair bit for safety reasons, and therefore he did not see much in the way of detail of most of the coast. When he sailed past Hallidays Point on May 12, 250 years ago, (it was May 11 in Cook's journal but he was still on English time and did not correct crossing the dateline) it looks like he was about 13 kilometres off the shore, so he had no idea what he was looking at, other than a distant shoreline. Anyone who goes fishing out wide can appreciate this.
The chart I have attached shows the known coast line plotted between Smoky Cape (Smoakey Cape by Cook why do they change spelling?) and Point Stephens. His plot of the Three Brothers was pretty artistic to show what he could see from out to sea. But generally you can see the correlation of the prominent features.
I have also tried to investigate where the name Black Head first appeared on maps at Hallidays Point. The second edition of the parish map of Beryan was in about 1910, which shows no Black Head reference, just Hallidays Point. However on the first Crown plan survey dated June 28 1909 for the nine 2 to 3 acre lots over the headland now known as Black Head village, there is a notation track to Black Head. The following Parish of Beryan map in 1918 shows a reference to Black Head under the Hallidays Point name near the back beach.
The 1958 edition shows all the headlands starting with Diamond Reef at the back beach, then Hallidays Point out the front of the bowling club, then Black Head at the razorback rock and around to Red Head. However, as I understand, the Hoy family used the name Black Head. The name Black Head was given by William Hoy, who named it after Blackhead in Ireland. The Hoy family raised 10 children in this area.
On the seaside of Sugar Load, or Razor Back as it was commonly known, is Carey's Rock. This was named after a man named Carey who was washed off while fishing. Only his hat was found.
The name Hallidays Point was given to honour a member of Captain Cook's crew who died and was buried at sea at this point. From the simple beginning of a small fishing village, in just 100 years look where we are now.
As another matter of interest, while I was searching through our old survey files, one of our survey practice owners, Mr David Stirling Sharpe, carried out the first subdivisions for the current residential lots for Walter and Margaret Plummer in 1920.