Activists spray graffiti on Capt. Cook's house

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Associated Press

Posted on January 25, 2014 at 12:03 AM

Updated Saturday, Jan 25 at 12:07 AM

MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — Activists have sprayed graffiti on the historic home of the 18th century British explorer Capt. James Cook to protest against Australia's national day.

The stone walls of the two-story building known as Cook's Cottage in Melbourne were painted Thursday night with slogans such as "26th Jan Australia's shame."

Jan. 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 Australia Day last year. He did not know if the attacks were linked.

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

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