Possession Island, Queensland

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Captain Cook raises the Union Flag on Possession Island, 22 August 1770

Possession Island is a small island in the Torres Strait, near Cape York in far northern Queensland, Australia.

The island is called Bedanug or Bedhan Lag by the indigenous Australian people, the Kaurareg people.[1] During his first voyage of discovery James Cook sailed north along the east coast of Australia, landing at Botany Bay. Reaching the tip of Queensland, he named and landed on Possession Island, just before sunset on Wednesday 22 August 1770. He said that the east coast was now British territory under the control of King George III.

He wrote in his journal:

Notwithstand[ing] I had in the Name of His Majesty taken possession of several places upon this coast, I now once more hoisted English Coulers and in the Name of His Majesty King George the Third took possession of the whole Eastern Coast . . . by the name New South Wales, together with all the Bays, Harbours Rivers and Islands situate upon the said coast, after which we fired three Volleys of small Arms which were Answered by the like number from the Ship.

In 2001, the Kaurareg successfully claimed native title rights over the island (and other nearby islands).[2]

Possession Island is located at the centre of the Possession Island National Park. This park has an area of 5.10 km², and was made a protected area in 1977. It is looked after by the Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service.

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Coordinates: 10°43′36″S 142°23′49″E / 10.72667°S 142.39694°E / -10.72667; 142.39694