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James Cook discovered the Endeavour Strait in his 1770 voyage to the area.
The Endeavour Strait is a strait running between the Australian mainland and Prince of Wales Islandmarker, in the extreme south of the Torres Straitmarker. It was named in 1770 by explorer James Cook, after his own vessel, The Endeavour, and he used the strait as passage out to the Indian Oceanmarker on his voyage.

The Endeavour Strait is approximately thirty statute miles (50 km) in length from its northernmost tip to its southern extremities, and varies from two to six miles (3 to 10 km) in breadth. It is, on average, between seven and eight fathoms (15 m) deep, and its sandy floor is carpetted with a moderately thick layer of coral. The strait is generally safe to travel through, and is not littered with any major sunken dangers or foul ground, although, for larger vessels, there is potential danger at the strait's western end, at the point that it connects with the Arafura Seamarker, where the depth of the water is only around three fathoms (5 m).

The danger that this shallow western point presents was a barrier that the Dutchmarker explorers of Australia never overcame in their earlier sea explorations of the region. If they had been able to pass through the Endeavour Strait at the time, it is likely they would have discovered eastern Australia approximately one hundred and fifty years before the Britishmarker did, in 1770, as the Dutch had been successful in mapping the most of the west coast of Australia during the early 17th century following Willem Janszoon's sighting of the Cape York Peninsulamarker in 1606.

The shallow western end was also responsible for the wrecking of a cutter, the America, in 1844. All on board were killed, except Scottish woman Barbara Thompson. Thompson was rescued by the islanders living on Prince of Wales Island, the Kaurareg, with whom she lived for five years.

Today, the strait is travelled sparsely by passing small vessels, and its western side is often used as a bank for these ships. Due to the relatively shallow average depth of the strait, especially at its westernmost extremities, and the dangers that this presents, there have been recent calls for the body to be deepened, but there are no plans for this at the present time.

See also


  1. Rothwell, p.119
  2. Horsburgh, p.802
  3. Heath, p.60
  4. Heath, p.61


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