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Voyage de d'Entrecasteaux, envoye a la recherche de la Perouse, Volumes I & 2 (Voyage of D'Entrecasteaux, sent in search of la Perouse)

Date: 1808
Dimensions:
Overall: 90 x 320 x 230 mm, 3.8 kg
Medium: Ink on paper
Credit Line: ANMM Collection
Classification:Books and journals
Object Name: Book
Object No: V00000351
Place Manufactured:Paris

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    Description
    'Voyage de D'Entrecasteaux, envoye a la recherche de la Perouse' was written by Chevalier de Rossel and published in 1808 in Paris. It consists of two volumes detailing Bruny D'Entrecasteaux's 1791-1794 expedition to the Pacific in search of the missing French explorer la Perouse. The disappearance of la Perouse's ships became one of the greatest maritime mysteries of the 18th century. Although he was sent to find the lost ships, D'Entrecasteaux displayed a keen interest in exploration and undertook scientific studies of the Australian coast and Pacific islands.
    SignificanceThis is the official account in two volumes of Bruny D'Entrecasteaux's voyage to the Pacific in 1791-1794 in search of the lost la Perouse expedition. It contains early written information and maps of Tasmania and south-west Western Australia.
    HistoryIn 1791 Admiral Joseph-Antoine Raymond Bruny D'Entrecasteaux with the ships LA RECHERCHE and L'ESPERANCE (under the command of Huon de Kermadec) left France to search for the missing explorer Jean-Francois de Galaup, Comte de la Perouse. The expedition was to also to conduct scientific work and surveys of the countries it visited. D'Entrecasteaux left Brest on 28 September 1791 with directions to explore southern Western Australia, Tasmania, the Gulf of Carpentaria, New Caledonia, the Solomons, north-east New Guinea and locate any sign of la Perouse and his ships, still missing three years after disappearing in the Pacific in 1788.

    Stopping briefly at the Cape of Good Hope, South Africa, D'Entrecasteaux heard of French clothes and objects having been found in the Admiralty Islands so he set sail for the Pacific. The expedition stopped at Van Diemen's Land (Tasmania) and then sailed to New Caledonia. During the months of June to September the expedition searched the seas north and north-east of New Guinea. With nothing found they sailed for Amboina for a refit and resupply before heading down the Western Australian coast to complete charting of the south-west. The ships sailed eastwards and completed some work in Tasmania started the previous year. They sailed into the Pacific and via New Zealand to Santa Cruz where detailed survey work was undertaken. They actually sighted Vanikoro Island in the Solomons (where la Perouse was wrecked) but did not stop there.

    Although he was unable to locate the missing ships, during the expedition D'Entrecasteaux conducted important scientific research and exploration of the western Pacific, Western Australia and Tasmania. While at Recherche Bay, Tasmania in 1792, he collected more than 5,000 specimens and compiled reports on the island's geography, flora and Indigenous population. His reports offered favourable information about the possibility of establishing a settlement on the Derwent River.

    By 1793 many of the ship's crew were sick so they headed again for the Dutch East Indies. D'Entrecasteaux himself died of scurvy off north-east new Guinea on 20 July. Keramdec had died previously and the expedition was taken over by d'Aribeau. They sailed to Surabaya in the Dutch East Indies where they learned the French King had been executed and the newly formed Republic of France was at war. D'Aribeau - sympathetic to French loyalists - surrendered the ships to the Dutch and it was several years before the crews returned to France.

    One result of this action by d'Aribeau was that the notes and research compiled during D'Entrecasteaux's expedition were captured by the British in 1793 and not returned until 1802. The official publication 'Voyage de d'Entrecasteaux, Envoye a la Recherche de La Perouse', detailing the expedition was compiled by Chevalier de Rossel and printed six years after the French received their expedition papers back. As part of the expedition D'Entrecasteaux had produced twelve maps of Western Australia and Tasmania, the earliest accurate representations of these coastlines. He also provided some of the earliest reliable information about the geography, flora and fauna of Western Australia and Tasmania.

    An account of the expedition by botanist Jacques Labillardiere was published in 1800 prior to the official account. Entitled 'Relation du voyage a la recherche de La Pérouse' it was printed in four separate English editions, a testament to the popular interest the D'Entrecasteaux expedition excited.
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