Cooks’ Cottage: House built by James Cook’s parents and brought to Melbourne’s Fitzroy Gardens could be dismantled as anti-colonial sentiment grows
- Cooks’ Cottage considered to be closed by city’s council
- The attraction has seen falling visitors and critiques of its history
A popular tourist attraction with links to pre-colonial Australia could potentially be shut down as its place in modern Australia is questioned.
Cooks’ Cottage, in Melbourne’s Fitzroy Garden, was originally constructed by the parents of British explorer Captain James Cook in Great Ayton, North Yorkshire, in 1755, and brought to Australia in 1934.
The cottage is decorated in 18th century furniture and novelties, allowing patrons to experience what life was like in the 1700s.
The city council is currently reviewing the viability of the cottage due to a decline in visitors with the downturn worsened by Covid lockdowns, the Herald Sun reported.
Public sentiment around the cottage appears to be changing with visitors leaving one-star reviews because of its colonial heritage while vandals have defaced the site.
The negative reception has raised into question the appropriateness of the cottage in modern day Australia.
Melbourne’s Cooks’ Cottage (pictured) could be closed in a matter of months as they city’s council considers falling visitor rates and it’s place in modern Australia
A decision on the attraction’s future from the Town Hall will likely be months away.
The cottages have previously been a lightning rod for anti-colonial sentiments, being vandalised just two days before Australia Day in 2014.
A spokesperson for Melbourne City Council told the outlet, ‘No decision has been made to close Cooks’ Cottage’.
While Captain Cook never lived in the house, its significance to Australian history was important enough to have it deconstructed and rebuilt in Fitzroy Garden.
Australian philanthropist Sir Russell Grimwade purchased the English cottage for around $80,000 in today’s terms as a gift to the state to celebrate a century since English settlement.
One of Sir Grimwade’s descendants, Fred Grimwade, said the family no longer has any connection to the attraction.
‘While I cannot comment on behalf of the extended Grimwade family or the City of Melbourne, my wife and I support ongoing efforts to ensure that the cottage continues to be presented in a context and manner that reflects contemporary social and community attitudes but is respectful of history,’ he told the Herald Sun.
The cottage was vandalised in 2014 to protest Captain Cook as a figurehead of English settlement and mistreatment of indigenous peoples.
Anti-Australia Day slogans were spray-painted onto the side of the building, including: ’26th Jan Australia’s shame’.
It had been vandalised the year prior when the words ‘Cappy Cook was a crook killer liar theif (sic)’ were also spray-painted onto its exterior.
Built by the parents of Captain James Cook, who has been the figurehead of anti-colonial sentiments, the cottage’s have been vandalised twice in the past in lead ups to Australia Days
Reviews of the cottage online have reflected the vandals’ sentiments while others have slammed the cost to visit the venue.
‘As an indigenous First Nations person I feel oppressed by this space,’ a one-star review of the cottage reads.
‘I think first nations should be given a voice in how this place is presented.’
‘Needs more information on the horrors committed on Indigenous Australians,’ another review read.
One critic, a self described ‘history buff’, said the experience was not worth the $7 entry fee when there were more historically significant areas nearby.
‘To pay 7 dollars to see a simple and cramped two storey building with some furniture thrown in feels a little ripped off,’ they wrote.
‘You can admire the building from the outside without missing anything (albeit some narration and information boards), and the surrounding gardens make for a better place to spend your time than to pay and enter this place.’