Australians outraged at plans to despoil historic Botany Bay site

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Captain Cook's landing site at Botany Bay is to Australians as Plymouth Rock is to Americans, according to some.

Historians say a plan to build a desalination plant close to where Captain Cook first landed in Botany Bay is an act of cultural vandalism.

Campaigners say the plan is the latest in a long line of ventures with which New South Wales has "wiped its bum" on the historic location -- Australia's birthplace -- where the Union flag was first hoisted in Australia.

Cook and his men waded ashore in April 1770 on Botany Bay's Kurnell Peninsula, 15km south of what is now central Sydney.

Eighteen years later the First Fleet of British convicts sailed into Botany Bay, but soon abandoned the site and sailed north to Port Jackson to establish Australia's first penal settlement.

Historians say the peninsula should be cherished as the crucible of European settlement as well as a reminder of the resistance put up by Aboriginal tribes to their eventual dispossession.

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