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Carte Generale de la Terre Napoleon (a la Nouvelle Hollande)

Date: 1808
Overall: 500 x 760 mm
Medium: Ink on paper
Credit Line: ANMM Collection
Classification:Maps, charts and plans
Object Name: Chart
Object No: 00000453
Place Manufactured:Paris

User Terms

    A hand-coloured engraved chart of the South Australian coast and a section of the Victorian coastline; produced after Nicolas Baudin's 1800-1803 expedition in command of LE GEOGRAPHE and LA NATURALISTE. It includes Encounter Bay where by chance Baudin met with Matthew Flinders in HMS INVESTIGATOR on 8 April 1802.

    Despite large parts of the coast already having been charted by Flinders before Baudin's arrival, this was the first chart to be published of the entire South Australian coastline. It was included as Plate 10 in Louis de Freycinet's account of the voyage 'Voyage de Decouvertes aux Terres Australes’ (Voyage of discovery in the South Land) which was published in France by the French Admiralty.

    SignificanceThis chart clearly attests the presence and activity of French explorers along Australia's shores during 1800-1803. It was published three years prior to the charts made by Matthew Flinders, making it the first complete chart of the South Australian coastline.

    Baudin's expedition referred to the south coast as Terre Napoléon (Napoleon's Land) in honour of their great leader. The French charts reflect the French names given to several places visited - Golfe Josephine for Gulf St Vincent. They were not as accurate as the charts published by the British Admiralty several years later using Flinders' observations and survey results; this is attributable to the fact that Baudin frequently omitted getting close in-shore to record bays, estuaries and inlets in finer detail.

    HistoryNicolas Baudin sailed from France in October 1800 in command of the ships LE GEOGRAPHE and LA NATURALISTE on a scientific expedition to Australia. Baudin had previously served in the merchant marine, the French Navy (during the American War of Independence), the French East India Company and in the service of the Austro-Hungarian Emperor, Joseph II. He had established a good reputation as an amateur naturalist after returning from Puerto Rico with a splendid collection of natural history specimens in 1797.

    Based on the success of the Puerto Rico expedition, Baudin proposed a scientific expedition to New Holland. In addition to achieving the scientific objectives of the expedition, Baudin planned to survey parts of the Australian coast - particularly those areas that were still poorly charted. The great French explorer Louis-Antoine de Bougainville was an influential supporter of the expedition and his son, Hyacinthe de Bougainville, served as a midshipman aboard LE GEOGRAPHE. Command of the LA NATURALISTE was by Lt. Cdr. Jacques-Felix Hamelin.

    Although Baudin had been given overall command, he had had little control over the selection of the scientists and many of the officers; shipboard tensions that subsequently arose during the voyage were exacerbated by the expedition's slow passage from France to Mauritius. Morale plummeted and consequently several disaffected officers left the expedition at Mauritius.

    In May 1801 the expedition reached Cape Leeuwin in Western Australia. Baudin's instructions were to sail south to Tasmania, but with winter approaching, he chose instead to commence surveying north along the west Australian coast - discovering and naming Geographe Bay in the process. The GEOGRAPHE and NATURALISTE separated and Hamelin undertook a survey of Shark Bay, with the two ships arranging to reunite in Timor.

    In November 1801 the expedition sailed south into the Indian Ocean and then east towards Van Diemen's Land (Tasmania) arriving there in January 1802. Over the next three months the expedition surveyed much of Bass Strait and the south coast of Australia.

    Baudin's survey coincided with that of Matthew Flinders in HMS INVESTIGATOR; an encounter between the two expeditions took place on 8 April 1802 at a place named Encounter Bay. Although Flinders' charts have come to be accepted as the more detailed and accurate of the two, Baudin's work was published three years prior to Flinders' and offered the first comprehensive surveys of the Australian coastline.

    Baudin's period in Tasmania produced a wealth of new geographical and anthropological information; the expedition's scientists collected an abundance of natural history specimens and also made important observations and records documenting indigenous Tasmanians (Peron produced a study of the Aborigines of Maria Island).

    During the survey the GEOGRAPHE and NATURALISTE had mainly acted independently of each other, but in 1802 Port Jackson was chosen as a place for a rendez-vous. At Port Jackson Baudin purchased a smaller vessel, the locally-built CASUARINA, to replace the slow and cumbersome NATURALISTE which was sent home early to France. De Freycinet was given command of the CASUARINA.

    During the following year the expedition surveyed more of Bass Strait, King George's Sound, and the north coast of New Holland around Bathurst and Melville islands.

    In August 1803 the expedition returned to Mauritius where Baudin died on 16 September 1803. As a result of Baudin's death, the expedition's charts were produced by Louis de Freycinet, the expedition's hydro-cartographer.

    Additional Titles

    Web title: Carte Generale de la Terre Napoleon (a la Nouvelle Hollande)

    Primary title: French chart of southern Australia, Paris 1808

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