14 Sept 2018

Western Australian's should all speak French. Why?

Image result for French Australian cartoon

French first to lay claim to WA

Dr Michael McCarthy, the museum’s curator of maritime archaeology, said most people were often surprised to find out WA had been claimed by the French in 1772.

Only two years after Captain Cook named and claimed New South Wales for the British.“Not many people know that Saint Alouarn (a French explorer) came to Shark Bay and annexed Western Australia for France,” he said.

“So this should have been French, this part of the coast, because the French actually laid claim.

Historic documents and drawings never seen before outside France – and on loan to Western Australia – have shed more light on the theory that WA could just as easily have been settled by the French.

The artefacts, from two French-led expeditions in the early 1800s – the first commissioned by Napoleon Bonaparte – are on display at the WA Maritime Museum.

The earlier expedition, led by Nicolas Baudin with 23 scientists on board, was labelled a journey of scientific discovery.

It was likely the French leader had other, less scientific intentions, that of laying claim to more lands.

“There was also a colonial aspect to it, the French and the English were, in a way, rivals.

“The British were already there on the east coast but nobody knew much about the west coast … and so the French were sent to not only discover the natural elements of the land but to look for harbours.”

Australia(New Holland Expedition).

In October 1800 Baudin was selected to lead what has become known as the Baudin expedition to map the coast of Australia (New Holland).

He had two ships, Géographe and Naturaliste captained by Hamelin, and a suite of nine zoologists and botanists, including Jean Baptiste Leschenault de la Tour.

He reached Australia in May 1801, and explored and mapped the western coast and a part of the little-known southern coast of the continent.

The scientific expedition proved a great success, with more than 2500 new species discovered. The French also met Aboriginal peoples and treated them with great respect.

In April 1802 Baudin met Matthew Flinders, also engaged in charting the coastline, in Encounter Bay in present-day South Australia.

He then stopped at the British colony at Sydney for supplies. In Sydney he bought a new ship — Casuarina — named after the wood it was made from. From there he sent home Naturaliste, which had on board all of the specimens that had been discovered by Baudin and his crew.

He then headed for Tasmania, before continuing north to Timor. Baudin then sailed for home, stopping at Mauritius.

According to recent researches by academics from the University of Adelaide, François Péron, who had become the chief zoologist and intellectual leader of the mission, wrote a report for Napoleon on ways to invade and capture the British colony at Sydney Cove. So New South Wales could have become French if Naploleon hadn't been distracted in Europe.

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