Captain James Cook set forth on his first voyage from England Plymouth Harbour on 26th August 1768. The HMB Endeavour had a crew made up of ninety-four men who had been instructed to set sail for Tahiti to observe as well as record the transit of Venus across the face of the Sun. Captain James Cook was an accomplished navigator, surveyor and astronomer who commanded the ship and issued instructions to the crew. Interestingly, the mission of observing the Venus transit was to cover up for the real mission of the voyage which was to explore the Southern Ocean for unknown southern land.
Captain Cook had been issued instructions from the Admiralty to explore the unchartered waters of the Southern Ocean in a bid to discover new land. His superior skills in surveying and cartography were one of the reasons for being entrusted with such a dangerous mission. Once the Endeavour reached Tahiti in April of 1769, the crew were able to observe the transit of Venus across the sun on June 3. The ship was then commandeered towards the south by Captain Cook and mapped New Zealand before spotting Australia on the 19th of April 1770 and claiming it for the British Crown. Cook named it New South Wales. Cook and his crew finally returned to England in July 1771 after a voyage that lasted for three years.