Activists protesting against Australia's national day spray graffiti on Captain Cook’s Cottage

National monument defaced by grafitti spray painted by activists opposing the celebration of British colonists arriving in Australia in 1788

PUBLISHED : Friday, 24 January, 2014, 4:50pm
UPDATED : Friday, 24 January, 2014, 11:17pm

Activists have sprayed graffiti on the historic home of the 18th-century British explorer Captain James Cook to protest against Australia’s national day.

The stone walls of the two-storey building known as Cook’s Cottage in Melbourne were painted on Thursday night with slogans such as “26th Jan Australia’s shame.”

Januray 26 is Australia Day and commemorates British settlement of Sydney in 1788 as a penal colony. Opponents call it “Invasion Day,” and regard it as a shameful reminder that Australian land was taken from Aborigines by British colonists without a treaty.

The cottage was originally built in 1755 in the village of Great Ayton in Yorkshire, England, by the parents of the acclaimed seafarer. Cook was a Royal Navy lieutenant in 1770 when he commanded the first European ship to discover the site of Sydney.

The family cottage was dismantled and relocated in 1934 to Melbourne, Australia’s second largest city, where it has become a museum and popular tourist attraction. The Melbourne city council describes it as Australia’s oldest building.

City workers began cleaning off the paint on Friday, and police were investigating.

Detective Senior Constable Scott Gray said it was the third graffiti attack on the building since last year’s Australia Day. He did not know if all the attacks were linked.

“Coming so close to Australia Day ... it’s quite disturbing that people can do this,” Gray told reporters.