Could Australia ever have been French? The English certainly thought so. Through revolution, empire and restoration, late 18th and early 19th century France maintained an unwavering commitment to research and discovery in the Pacific region and in Australia.
More interested in science than in new colonies, these early French voyages, led by commanders like Bougainville, Lapérouse, D’Entrecasteaux, Baudin, Freycinet, Duperrey and Dumont d’Urville, were the first to name, describe and beautifully illustrate many Australian species. They took specimens back to French museums where they provided an important foundation for Australian biology and conservation, particularly in botany and marine biology. England may have colonised Australia, but for many years it was France that understood it best.
The premiere of this richly illustrated short documentary film, hosted by the South Australian Maritime Museum, brings to life our fascinating and colourful French history and reminds us of a time when scientific research involved intrepid voyages in tall ships on the high seas, battling scurvy and storms, insects and rats, and hostilities both on board and on shore.
Narrated by author and biologist, Dr Danielle Clode, and French lecturer, Dr Christèle Maizonniaux, this 45min film will be followed by a live Q&A with English and French language options.