Ashmore Reef Expedition 2015 – Part One

Voyage out past Mer (Murray) Island. Photo: Xanthe Rivett, Silentworld Foundation.

Voyage out past Mer (Murray) Island. Photo: Xanthe Rivett, Silentworld Foundation.

Ashmore Reef is a 30 kilometre long, isolated, lagooned coral reef system located more than 950 kilometres north of Cairns, Queensland, some 250 kilometres east of Thursday Island, Torres Strait and 30 kilometres offshore from the extreme northern end of the Great Barrier Reef in the Australian Coral Sea Territory.

The northern section of what is now called Ashmore Reef was first sighted by Captain Ashmore in the brig Hibernia in 1811 and unofficially called Hibernia Reef. The southern section of the reef was named the Claudine and Mary Reef an 1818 and the entire reef system called either Jones Shoal, Ormond’s or Great Ormond’s Reef by 1826. Continue reading

Ferguson Reef archaeology expedition – 23 November

Eel and Fison Reefs

Bungee and his helicopter left early this morning after a successful day yesterday looking for aircraft wrecks along the coast, whilst we waved Bungee off, the crew prepared Silentworld II for sea – destination Eel Reef.

Vessel arrived off Eel Reef two hours later and the two dive tenders were lowered off the top deck, filled with divers and equipment, and then despatched from Silentworld II to mag and dive the reefs we did nit survey the last time we were here.

Research vessel Silentworld II anchored up behind Quoin Island. Photo: Xanthe Rivett, Silentworld Foundation

Research vessel Silentworld II anchored up behind Quoin Island. Photo: Xanthe Rivett, Silentworld Foundation

Conditions were perfect – well a little too perfect – the sea was so calm we had trouble seeing the edge of the reefs and coral bommies –which can usually be seen by the breaking of the sea over them.

Continue reading

An epic Antarctic inspiration

I have always been an avid reader, the type of kid that disappeared at Christmas to read the books left by Santa or being told turn off the light and sneaking a torch under the covers just to read just a little bit more.

Photo of

Tim Jarvis (middle) at the museum with our director Kevin Sumpton (L) and Michael Harvey, head Audience, Outreach and Exhibitions (R).

As I have gotten older my love of a good story hasn’t waned, just adjusted to my busier life so it takes an extraordinary tale to keep me turning the pages late into the night. It really doesn’t surprise anyone who knows me that I work in a museum surrounded by thousands of stories.

One adventure that has recently kept me up to the wee small hours is Shackleton’s boat journey written by a New Zealand ship’s captain FA Worsley, originally published in 1940. The most incredible thing about this book was that it was a factual account of the Ernest Shackleton’s expedition to Antarctica, and the journey undertaken to save the lives of his men after the ship Endurance became stuck and crushed in the ice in the Wendell Sea on his way to Antarctica.

If I had been given the narrative without knowing a little of the background, I would have thought it was an amazing story full of heroism, determination and leadership. However, as part of my research the book provided a compelling and valuable insight as to conditions the men endured. Written today, editors would have labelled it not believable and a work of fantasy, nobody could survive in the conditions they endured (certainly not me, give me a tropical island any day). But of course, just to prove my thinking wrong, Australian environmental scientist and adventurer Tim Jarvis and his team have just recreated the sea and land crossing Shackleton undertook in his traditional gear.

I came across the Ernest Shackleton expedition and polar explorers late last year when I was asked to write some educational resources to support Tim’s re-creation of  Shackleton’s expedition. You could say that was a fascinating process for me to explore the history of the original expedition, collaborate with Tim’s Shackleton Epic team and to have access to some of their amazing images of Antarctica. (Antarctica is now moving up on my list of places to travel to one day if I can just get around the, it’s freezing issue).

I’m conscious of not spoiling the whole story to those uninitiated with the tale and to always leave your audience wanting more, I will finish here with a link to Shackleton Epic webpage. For teachers interested in the education resources they can be found on the museum’s teacher resources webpage.

Education officer

Meet Kieran Hosty, manager of maritime archaeology

Our education team recently caught up with Kieran Hosty, the museum’s manager of maritime archaeology, to find out more about his job and upcoming expedition to Ferguson Reef, off the coast Queensland.

Kieran wearing scuba gear sitting on boat at sea

Kieran Hosty, manager of maritime archaeology

What does your role at the museum involve?

Over the last 12 months my position at the museum has changed from that of a curator with a primary responsibility of managing a collection to that of full time manager of the museum’s expanding maritime archaeology program. When I was a curator I was responsible for immigration, ship technologies and marine archaeology. My work includes research, documentation, site survey and assessment of underwater cultural heritage, along with museum exhibition concept, design and installation. Continue reading

Eighteen months on a leaky boat

 ‘Southern Pygmy Leatherjacket, Brachaluteres jacksonianus’

‘Southern Pygmy Leatherjacket, Brachaluteres jacksonianus’, by Ferdinand Bauer, lent by Natural History Museum, London

There is something intriguing about natural history illustrations. The plants look as though they are sprouting from the page but the animals appear slightly on the edge of reality, with blankly staring eyes and stiffly posed limbs. Perhaps this is because the immobility of plants permit them to be drawn from life whereas animals do not generally allow the painter that luxury unless they are in a more, well, deceased state.

Continue reading

Frederick Reef Archaeological Survey – Day 3

Friday, 6 Jan 2012


We arrived at Frederick Reef about 3 am… announced by the rattling of the anchor chain through the boat.  Most people were up about 6 am to catch their first glimpse of the reef and sand cay. After breakfast at 7 am we started preparing for check-out dives. Before the dives Kieran gave a general historical briefing and a dive safety briefing about the diving procedures we will be using.  The first dives were done between 11.30 am and 1.30 pm in teams of three or four.  We had a late lunch and went straight back for a second check-out as a boat dive.  Final divers were up at 4.30 pm.  One of the teams located a timber that appears to be from the wreck!

Very close by was an iron staple knee.  A reinforcing structure that may have supported two deck beams.

Photo of a piece of timber on sea floor and iron knee staple

Photographer: Xanthe Rivett

After completing dive logs, washing gear and writing up notes we finally finished off at 6 pm.  A 12-hour day and the crew were a bit weary!  Dinner was served at 7.30 pm, followed by a debrief of the day’s activities.  Xanthe Rivett, our expedition photographer, put on a slideshow of the day’s photos.  Here are just a few…

Kanimbla boat at sea

Photographer: Xanthe Rivett

Beautiful beach

Photographer: Xanthe Rivett

Detail of sea creature on sand

Photographer: Xanthe Rivett

Cheers Paul Hundley
(Sr. Curator and archaeologist)

Frederick Reef Archaeological Survey – Day 2

Most of the crew were up by 7 am.  The seas were up and the Kanimbla was rolling and pitching.  Some of the crew chose to pass on breakfast and stay in their bunks.

After breakfast a group of us set up the safety bags containing a strobe light, emergency whistle and safety sausage or tall position marker that can be seen at quite a distance.  We are very remote and very conscious of safety procedures.

A bit later on we pulled out copies of our historical records and scoured over them for additional clues to where we might find the Royal Charlotte.  We took a break at lunchtime and afterward downloaded our report from the 2010 reconnaissance with the chart of mag hits, their strength and location.   The last task for the day was to make up our decent lines and marker buoys.  The team from Flinders took charge of this under the capable teaching of Lee Graham from ANMM.

 Lee Graham from ANMM teaching the team from Flinders on the make up our decent lines and marker buoys.

We wrapped up work for the day about 6 pm and had dinner at 7 pm in the lee of Saumarez Reef.  This gave us a bit of protection and cut down the rolling of the boat a bit.  Everyone was very tired from fighting the seas today and there wasn’t anyone up past 9 pm.

Early tomorrow morning we will arrive and anchor up at Frederick Reef.

Paul Hundley

Hopefully in the next instalment I will be able to introduce the crew and post photos of most of us.  Stay tuned!

Cheers Paul Hundley  (Sr. Curator and archaeologist)

Frederick Reef Archaeological Survey – Day 1 Part 2

Back again… It’s actually the morning of Day 2, but I thought I’d catch you up with what went on after leaving Brisbane airport.  There were other crew members on our flight- John Jackie and Jenn Mullen and Gordon.  We were all working together on the Mermaid project back in 2009.  Our blog from that expedition is still archived on our website.

We arrived in Gladstone at about 1.30 pm.  A bit delayed, but at least all of our equipment made it with us!

We took a taxi to the marina and met the crew of the Kanimbla.  Carl and Jesse had picked up all the gear we had shipped up from Sydney the week before and it was already on the boat.  Kieran and I did a quick check and found that one parcel had been left behind.  And a pretty important one at that… the cable that attaches the magnetometer tow fish to the computer!  The magnetometer, or mag, is a piece of electronic survey equipment.  Basically it is a very sensitive metal detector, but if you can’t connect the sensor to the computer it’s not going to work.

We got Carl to take us to the TNT depot where we spotted it right away.  The depot thought it was for Telstra because it was a big blue cable!  With that problem solved we picked up a few other supplies that we knew we might need and headed back to the marina.  Kieran had a couple of interviews scheduled for 3 pm.

We got back spot on 3 pm and one film crew was just unpacking and another reporter and photographer were already on board Kanimbla.  That took about an hour to provide the story, photos and film.  There should be a news piece on Channel 7 evening news on Thursday.  But we won’t be able to get this blog out until after that.  Sorry…

Kieran and I took advantage in the break in activity to unpack our personal gear and settle into a four bunk berth.  It has enough room to store some of the camera and video equipment.  After that we got stuck into unpacking and reorganising some of the 19 assorted bins and boxes of dive gear and survey equipment.

The doctor for the project arrived at about 5.30 pm.  Frederick Reef is so remote that we felt it was a good idea to have a diving doctor on board the Kanimbla.  At 6 pm the rest of the ANMM staff arrived along with the staff and students from Flinders Uni.  Everyone had arrived on our boat.

The last person was Xanthe Rivett our project photographer and videographer.  Everyone stopped work and took some time to get to know each other.

At 8.30 pm we had our safety briefing from the captain of Kanimbla, as required of all charter boats in preparation for departure.  We had dinner at 9 pm and pulled away from the wharf at 10 pm. We’re on our way to Frederick Reef!!  I’ll let you know how we stay busy for the next 30 hours…

Cheers Paul Hundley  (Sr. Curator and archaeologist)

Frederick Reef Archaeological Survey – Day 1

Hey everyone.  If you’ve found this you might have heard an interview with Kieran Hosty our team leader.  Or maybe saw an article in the newspaper.  Welcome to our project.  This is actually the second trip to Frederick Reef for the ANMM.  Nigel Erskine and I did a reconnaissance trip in October 2010 with Silentworld Foundation.  Here are a couple of images from that trip.

Images from the scouting trip in 2010. Paul and Nigel

Paul and Nigel at work. Looking for remains.

We found a number of areas that had ship material scattered on the reef.  This project will go back to those areas for a closer look, as well as do a magnetometer survey around the entire southern reef system.

We are looking for the remains of the Royal Charlotte, convict ship that wrecked in 1825.  Here is an image of the Borrowdale, another convict transport. It is a bit smaller and older than the Royal Charlotte, but it will give an idea of what it looked like.  You can read a brief history here.

We are currently sitting in Brisbane airport waiting for our flight to Gladstone where we are meeting the rest of the team and the two boats.  We will be on the Kanimbla.  The other part of the team will be on Silentworld II, which is part of the Silentworld Foundation.

I know this is short, but I wanted to get something out to you quickly….  and we need to board our flight now!

We will write again tonight once we know when we will be leaving port. Stay tuned!  We will be sending posts back regularly…. with images and video clips too!!

Cheers Paul Hundley  (Sr. Curator and archaeologist)

Frederick Reef expedition

In January, the Australian National Maritime Museum will lead an underwater archaeology expedition to the Coral Sea to search for the wreck of the ship Royal Charlotte, lost in 1825.

The dive team will depart Gladstone on 5 January 2012 to explore the waters around Frederick Reef and other areas, where they will remain at sea for two weeks.

The expedition team will be sending through regular updates via this blog, so keep tuned throughout January!

Scuba diver searching the ocean floor during a reconnaissance trip to Frederick Reef October 2009

Reconnaissance trip to Frederick Reef October 2009. Copyright: Xanthe Rivett

The team includes three museum maritime archaeologists, a fourth museum diver and more than 20 volunteer divers and other support personnel in two research vessels. Two archaeology students from Flinders University in South Australia will also participate in the expedition.

This is the same dive team that located and identified the government schooner Mermaid wrecked in 1829, 20km south of Cairns in January 2009.

Kieran Hosty, the expedition leader, ANMM curator and maritime archaeologist said:

“Locating the remains of the Royal Charlotte will provide us with interesting historical detail and information on convict and troop transportation in the 19th century. We’re hoping to find remains of the hull and ballast, which would also reveal useful information about aspects of Indian shipbuilding at that time.”

Great Scott! The online debate

Why did Amundsen survive and Scott perish? Was Scott really a failure?  Who made the greater contribution in the Heroic Age of Antarctic discovery?

Join our online debate with Pulitzer prize-winning author Professor Edward Larson and gastronomic academic Diana Noyce.  Ask your question or let us know what you think in the comment section of this blog post.

So… what do you think? Was Scott a  failure or a hero?

Scott and the Polar Party at the South Pole.

Scott and the Polar Party at the South Pole. Licensed with permission of the Scott Polar Research Institute, University of Cambridge.


In 1912 Norway’s Roald Amundsen and Britain’s Captain Robert Falcon Scott set off across 500 miles of snow and ice in the first race of its kind to the South Pole. In appalling weather conditions, Scott and the other four members of his team perished on the return leg of their journey. Amundsen returned to his native Norway a hero.

Professor Edward Larson:
‘Given the drama of the British death march, the remarkable efficiency of the Norwegian effort, it should not be surprising that historians and popularizers alike have focused the narrative of these expeditions on the quest for the Pole.   As a historian of science, however, I’m drawn to science.  Researchers on Scott’s two Antarctic expeditions and the intervening one led by Ernest Shackleton opened an unknown continent to science and enriched our understanding of global meteorological, biological, and oceanographic systems.  For the first time, they proved that the southern continents were once linked and offered surprising evidence of climate change.  To me, not only are these stories of doing science in extreme conditions at least as gripping as those about getting to the Pole, they are part of a more significant narrative that continues today in the vast amount of research still conducted in the Antarctic…

The polar trek of Amundsen and his men was a remarkable human feat.  Scott and his men, however, contributed something more than gaining the Pole.  They advanced human knowledge of an unknown continent and its place in global systems.’

Read an edited transcript of Professor Larson’s talk:
Scott, Amundsen and Science 100 Years Later
Order Professor Larson’s book Empire of Ice from the Museum Store
Empire of Ice by Edward Larson

Diana Noyce:
‘In summary, food played a vital role in the race to the South Pole. A mere glance at Scott’s diet reveals that it was inadequate, completely lacking in vitamins and low on calories…Scott’s men ate white bread. Amundsen’s team ate brown bread fortified with wheat germ and leavened with fresh yeast, as well as Lindström’s buckwheat cakes, all good sources of B vitamins…

Moreover, being Norwegians, Amundsen and his men were more inured to the climate, both physically and mentally, as well as the long months of winter darkness, and the long summer days. Skiing was second nature to them. Some commentators have argued that Scott’s Polar clothing was inadequate. However, it has been recently proven that Scott’s woollen and Burberry clothing was suitable for manhauling. The fur anoraks that Amundsen’s men wore and which was suitable for sledging, would have been too hot for Scott’s manhauling team. In the end it was the dogs that Amundsen took to the Pole that contributed to his success. They were not only their means of fast and efficient transport, but they also provided companionship for the men, as well as providing fresh meat, a valuable source of nutrition…

In conclusion, to quote Sir Humphrey Gilbert, the 16th century adventurer, explorer and soldier—He is not worthy to live at all, who for fear and danger of death shunneth his country’s service or his own honour, since death is inevitable and the fame of virtue immortal—were these words on Scott’s mind as he lay dying in his tent with his two companions? Was his immortality assured by dying, rather than returning home a defeated man? He certainly knew of these words as they are to be found in his journal.’

Read an edited transcript Noyce’s talk:
Hoosh, Dogs and Seal Meat: The Role of Food in the Race to the South Pole

To commemorate the centenary of the Terra Nova expedition and celebrate its achievements the Natural History Museum, London, the Canterbury Museum, Christchurch, New Zealand and the Antarctic Heritage Trust, New Zealand, have collaborated to create Scott’s Last Expedition, an international travelling exhibition.

This online debate follows on from talks held at the Australian National Maritime Museum on 31 July 2011 by Professor Edward Larson and Diana Noyce  in conjunction with the exhibition Scott’s Last Expedition. The talks generated a lot of debate and strong opinions across the floor about the successes and failures of the Terra Nova expedition.

We invite you to contribute to the conversation… Share your comments.

New acquisition records Baudin’s expedition to Australia – Part three

The British and the French meet

Flinders had arrived off the southwest corner of Australia four months earlier. By the time he encountered Baudin, he had completed surveys of the coast from King George’s Sound along the Great Australian Bight to Spencer Gulf and the Gulf St Vincent. Baudin continued his survey, but had to stop to replenish Géographe at Port Jackson, where he again rendezvoused with Naturaliste.

The two ships spent five months in Sydney Cove. Governor King was a gracious host, arranging for repairs to the ships and medical treatment for the numerous sick. Baudin purchased the small schooner Casuarina, to use for inshore survey work in place of Naturaliste (later sent home). Louis de Freycinet was put in command of Casuarina.  

Governor King was acutely aware that Baudin’s expedition could lay the foundation for a French settlement in Australia. When Baudin left for Bass Strait, King sent Lieutenant Robbins in Cumberland to shadow him and show a British presence (leading to a series of semi-farcical flag-raising events). Whatever colonial ambitions the French might have had, Géographe and Casuarina were soon sailing west, continuing their survey of the south coast. The following year, the British established a permanent settlement in Van Diemen’s Land.

In May 1803, after completing further surveys along the west coast, Géographe and Casuarina anchored again at Timor. Many of the men were sick, and the expedition was exhausted. After a brief attempt to continue working, Baudin gave the order to return to France. He was in poor health as well, and died in Mauritius in late 1803.

Publishing the Voyage de Découvertes aux Terres Australes

When Baudin’s men finally returned to France in March 1804, they brought with them rich scientific collections and observations, detailed surveys of the areas they’d explored, notes on Indigenous culture and the state of the Sydney settlement, and over 70 live animals and birds!

At any other time, the return of a major French scientific expedition would have been widely celebrated. But Baudin was dead and France was poised to invade England. Baudin’s reputation had also been tarnished by unfavourable reports from many of his former officers, and Napoleon’s support had waned. Therefore, collating the many facets of the voyage’s achievements seemed less than pressing.

The task finally fell to zoologist François Péron. The first volume of the account was published in 1807. Péron continued writing, but died in 1810. The responsibility for completing the publication passed to Louis de Freycinet. And so the complete five-volume account of the expedition – with all mention of Baudin himself clinically removed – was progressively published between 1807 and 1812. The final publication included two atlases with exquisitely engraved portraits of Indigenous people, depictions of Australian animals, views of Sydney Cove and charts of the Australian coast. Voyage de Découvertes aux Terres Australes is a testament to French interest in Australia in the early period of European settlement, and tells of a parallel achievement to the work of Matthew Flinders.

Dr Nigel Erskine,

ANMM curator of exploration and European settlement

New acquisition records Baudin’s expedition to Australia – Part two

France’s fortunes changed enormously in the final years of the 18th century. The French fleet suffered a catastrophic defeat at the hands of Nelson at the Battle of the Nile, and Napoleon Bonaparte’s Egyptian campaign and designs on British India subsequently collapsed. In 1799, Napoleon was made First Consul, strengthening his grip on power in France. It was not the ideal time to send an expensive expedition around the world.

But many parts of the Australian coast still hadn’t been charted in detail (despite D’Entrecasteaux’s surveying achievements). And the discovery of Bass Strait in 1798 added further urgency, as it underlined the possibility of further European settlements in Australia.

Unlike La Pérouse and D’Entrecasteaux, Nicolas Baudin’s nautical experience wasn’t purely naval. He’d worked in the merchant marine, the French East India Company and the Austrian navy, and served with the French navy during the American War of Independence. Because he’d led several botanical collecting expeditions for the Emperor of Austria, he was known to influential elements of the French scientific community. When Baudin applied for a post in the French navy in 1798, he was successful. He then lobbied to lead a French scientific expedition around the world. The Institut National recommended this to Napoleon, who supported it on the condition that the expedition focused only on Australia. Baudin was given command of the expedition, the ships Géographe and Naturaliste and 256 men. They sailed from France in October 1800.     

Despite his experience at sea, Baudin appears to have lacked the leadership skills so essential to the expedition’s success. When they reached Mauritius (Isle de France) in March 1801, 10 scientific staff, four officers, six midshipmen and 40 seamen all abandoned the voyage. While the loss of senior scientists and officers seriously compromised the expedition, it also opened up opportunities for those still on board. Among them were zoologist François Péron and a young sub-lieutenant, Louis de Freycinet (who both later shared responsibility for publishing the official account of the voyage).

In New Holland

Baudin had planned to start by surveying the south coast of New Holland. But by the time the ships reached Cape Leeuwin it was winter. He turned north instead, and began investigating the west coast. Baudin was on Géographe and Jacques Hamelin captained Naturaliste. They gathered collections and surveyed various points along the coast, particularly around Geographe Bay, Rottnest Island, Swan River and Shark Bay, as well as parts of the northwest coast. During these months the vessels were separated for long stretches – poor coordination that became a hallmark of the expedition. They eventually rendezvoused at Timor.

In November 1801 Géographe and Naturaliste sailed south, heading for Van Diemen’s Land. They explored parts of Storm Bay and the east coast before becoming separated again. By late March 1802 Baudin had entered Bass Strait. He began a westward survey of the south coast from Wilson’s Promontory, when he made the unwelcome discovery of Matthew Flinders’ HMS Investigator on 8 April.

Dr Nigel Erskine,

ANMM curator of exploration and European settlement

New acquisition records Baudin’s expedition to Australia – Part one

Earlier this year, the ANMM acquired the highly significant Voyage de Découvertes aux Terres Australes – the record of Nicolas Baudin’s 1800–1804 expedition to Australia. It’s made up of four quarto volumes and a magnificent folio atlas.

The great exploratory voyages of the late 18th and early 19th centuries were just like today’s space expeditions. A nation’s prestige was linked with its mission’s success. The journeys were endorsed by political leaders, sponsored by elite scientific societies, and equipped with the most advanced technology of the day. And, just as the world turned on the TV to witness man’s landing on the moon, 200 years ago the medium for communicating huge events was the book. It was, literally, bound to impress, and was often published with grand atlases of charts and views showing the finer details of the latest discoveries.

The Voyage de Découvertes… is the official record of Baudin’s expedition. But it also embodies a wider story of social and political upheaval in France at the turn of the 19th century, and of Baudin’s fall from grace even after leading an expedition that rivalled Matthew Flinders’ exploration on HMS Investigator.

Some historical background

When the Seven Years War (1756–1763) ended, there was new peace between France and Britain. Both countries renewed their interest in exploring the Pacific. Byron, Bougainville, Wallis and Carteret all led expeditions, before Cook’s three great voyages redefined the geography of the Pacific and Australia. For the first time since 17th-century Dutch voyagers had mapped the general outline of New Holland’s north, west and south coasts, most of the east coast was also revealed. But important questions still remained. Was the continent divided by a great gulf? What was the connection between Tasman and Furneaux’s charting in the south and Cook’s survey of the east coast? Were there any potentially strategic harbours and rivers and, if so, where were they?

In 1785, La Pérouse led a new expedition, with instructions from King Louis XVI to:

 … run down the western coast and take a closer look at the southern, the greater part of which has never been visited, finishing at Van Diemen’s Land [Tasmania], at Adventure Bay …

A Voyage Round the World … under the Command of J.F.G. de La Pérouse, Robinson; Edwards; and Payne, London, 1799

In fact, La Pérouse focused mainly on the western and northern Pacific. Apart from a few weeks in Botany Bay, he had little interest in Australia. And, after he left the east coast in early 1788, all opportunity was lost when La Pérouse’s ships were destroyed on the reefs at Vanikoro (Solomon Islands).

Atlas Du Voyage De La Perouse

The front cover of the Atlas Du Voyage De La Perouse

The disappearance of such a high-profile expedition demanded that every effort be made to discover what had happened, and to search for any survivors. The French government ordered Bruni D’Entrecasteaux to lead a new expedition to the Pacific in 1792. There was no trace of La Pérouse, but D’Entrecasteaux extended French surveys of Australian waters, particularly along the south-west coast and in southern Tasmania.

Before his disappearance, La Pérouse had been sending back progress reports. There was enough new geographic information to justify publishing a partial account of his expedition, and his maps in the form of a grand atlas. It would be as significant the one the British published for Cook’s third voyage. No expense was spared in producing a suitably imposing (rival) work in honour of La Pérouse and the French nation. See the elaborate title page alone (pictured), which symbolically refers to advancing the sciences of navigation, botany, astronomy and ethnography! While La Pérouse’s atlas set a benchmark, D’Entrecasteaux’s expedition also resulted in similarly exquisite large publications.

The next French expedition to investigate Australia was led by Nicolas Baudin. He set sail from a homeland that had changed dramatically in the years leading to the new century.

— Dr Nigel Erskine, ANMM Curator of exploration and European settlement