French-British encounters


On 23 January 1788, the 9 ships of the First Fleet, with SIRIUS and SUPPLY are anchored in Botany Bay, discovered and named by James Cook in 1770. The french frigates of La Pérouse, ASTROLABE and la BOUSSOLE appear at the horizon, coming from the Samoa, whereas the British fleet of the commodore Phillip prepares to set sail towards the anchorage more sheltered of Cove Bay.
The vessels choose by La Pérouse were two robust carriers: two lighters (gabares) or storeships of 500 tons, about 42 m long, 8.8 m width, and 5.8 m draught. After some changes, the Autruche, built in Le Havre in 1783 and the Portefaix, built at Bayonne in 1783 become Astrolabe and Boussole.

During 6 weeks calling, French and British officers will go visit. 
Lieutenant Philip King visits the French observatory. Some weeks later, he will found a settlement on Norfolk island. he will be the 3rd governor of New South Wales, where he will be replaced by William Bligh. 


Captain de Clonard, commanding the Astrolabe, entrusts to the commodore letters and documents to be given to the King of France, Louis XVI, through the French embassy in London. La Pérouse leaves Australia on 10 March 1788 and these despatches will be the last news before the wreck at Vanikoro.

SIRIUS was bought in November 1781 as a burned-out hull, rebuilt as a stores ship and renamed BERWICK; of 512 tons, b.m. ; 1101 x 33'; 16 guns. In 1786 she was converted to a 6th Rate with 20 guns and renamed SIRIUS. She wrecked on a reef off Norfolk Island on 19 March 1790. The brig SUPPLY built in 1759 (140 tons b.m.; 79’6" x 22’6n; 8 guns) was bought by the British Admiralty in 1781 converted to a stores ship and sold 17 July 1792.

Arthur Phillip, born in 1738, serves in 1760 in Antilles, then was granted permission to serve in the Portuguese Navy. He was made full Captain, sailing to Brazil in 1773. With the outbreak of the War of Independence of the American Colonies, Arthur Phillip returned to England to serve his country. He was reduced in rank to lieutenant. 

After establishing penal settlement at Botany Bay, he returns in England to form the Sea Fencibles to stop Napoleon landing on English soil.
He reached the rank of Admiral of The Blues, retiring to Bath where he lived until his death in 1814.



36 years after the encounter at Botany Bay, Bougainville’s son, Hyacinthe de Bougainville on Thétis, with the corvette Espérance, calls in Sydney, during a round the world trip. One of the officers was marques du Bouzet, who participated to Dumont d’Urville expedition to South Pole (1837-1840).  

Captain in 1848, he becomes governor of French Oceania. On board of the sail corvette Aventure he goes to Tahiti then comes back in New Caledonia on 18 January 1855. AVENTURE wrecks off Pine island, during the night, in April 1855.

Nicolas Thomas Baudin (17 February 1754 in Saint-Martin-de-Ré, 16 September 1803 in Mauritius, Ile de France at the time) engages at the age of fifteen in the merchant marine and at twenty years in the Company of the Eastern Indies. In 1793, France being in war with Austria, he achieves a campaign in the Antilles for the Natural history museum of Paris, brings back a rich collection of rare specimens, which is worth to him to be reinstated in the National Navy and to carry out many expeditions. In October 1800, he is selected to lead an expedition on the coasts of Australia with two ships, GEOGRAPHE and NATURALISTE. The project was endorsed by First Consul Napoleon Bonaparte and carried the imprimatur of Louis Antoine de Bougainville.

Dimensions of GEOGRAPHE 
Length 124 feet
Beam 30 feet
Draught 14 feet 10 inches
Height of the main mast 75 feet

From Baudin's Log book, French National Archives 


Baudin  reaches Australia in May 1801 and in April 1802 he meets Matthew Flinders close to Kangaroo Island, also charting the maritime zone, at Encounter Bay. He calls at the British settlement of Sydney, then stays one month in Tasmania before sailing northbound to Timor.

Expedition give form to a great part of this ground remained up to that point ignored. Today still, much places, on the Australian coasts, bear the name whose Baudin and its intrepid crew had baptized them. Expedition proved to be also one of the greatest scientific voyages from all times: to its return in France, it brought
back tens of thousands of specimens of unknown plants, 2 500 samples of minerals, 12 paperboards of notes, observations and notebooks of voyages, 1 500 drafts and paintings. These important descriptions for the naturalists and the ethnologists are accompanied by geographical charts of almost all the southern and western part of Australia as well as Tasmania.

Matthew FLINDERS (16 March 1774 – 19 July 1814) voyages with captain William Bligh on PROVIDENCE, carrying breadfruits  between Tahiti and Jamaica. In 1798, with George Bass, he sails around Tasmania proving its is an island. The passage between continent and Tasmania is then called Bass strait and one of the islands will be called Flinders Island.

FLINDERS sails from 1801 commanding INVESTIGATOR to chart the coasts of Australia, the southern coast being unknown at this time, drawing the most the majority of the coastal charts requested including large Australian bay and the gulf of Carpentarie. Left England in July, he reaches Cape Leeuwin on 6 December and begins its statement while going eastbound, reaching Fowlers Bay on 28 January 1802.
The Investigator was initially launched as the collier Fram in 1796. She sailed off the north coast of England before being purchased by the navy in 1798 and initially entered service as HMS Xenophon. She was renamed HMS Investigator in 1801, when she was refitted as a 334 tons survey ship. She was broken up in November 1810.

Length:             100 ft 6 in (30.6 m)
Beam:               28 ft 6 in (8.7 m)
Armament:        22 guns

On 8 April 1802, Flinders, sailing towards the east meets the French explorer Nicolas Baudin who sailed towards the west on board GEOGRAPHE. They exchange the details of their respective discoveries and sail together towards Sydney to re-supply. Thereafter, Flinders names their place of meeting, close to Kangaroo Island, Encounter Bay. Kangaroo Island is an Australian island located at the south of Australia. It is the third larger Australian island after Tasmania and Melville island. It is located at 112 km in the south-west of Adelaide, at the entry of the Saint Vincent gulf, 13 kilometres off Jervis Cape at the end of the Fleurieu Peninsula. 
Prisoner during 7 years in Mauritius in spite of the pressures of the French governor De Caen, Flinders can finally return to England in October 1810, in bad health in consequence of his imprisonment. He starts to write his book A Travels to Terra Australis. On 18 July  1814, the book was published. The next day, Matthew Flinders died. He was 40 years old.


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