In 1770, when Captain James Cook first sighted Australia and landed at Botany Bay, the height of the mast of his ship, Endeavor, was 129 feet. Imagine what he would think today knowing there is a fountain in the Australian capital nearly four times the height of his mast. Sure enough, however, the Captain Cook Memorial Fountain has pumps that are strong enough to jettison water over 450 feet in the air. The fountain is located in Lake Burley Griffin off the shores of Commonwealth Park, and a sculpture of a globe on Regatta Point recounts Cook’s journeys to Australia.
The memorial was dedicated in 1970 to mark the 200th anniversary of Cook’s journey, and when the fountain is operating at full power, over six tons of water can be suspended in air before crashing back down to the lake. For visitors more interested in Cook’s journeys than the vertical force of the water, placards next to the large globe sculpture help recount the tales of his adventures. While the memorial itself takes just a short time to visit, it’s a highlight of strolling through Commonwealth Park and a unique tribute to Australia’s past.
Fountain hours can be somewhat irregular, but it usually operates between 2-4pm and from 7-9pm in summer. During periods of high winds, however, the fountain shut off completely, and the water can occasionally be colorfully lit during festivals and special events.