A book titled 'Voyage de d'Entrecasteaux, Envoye A La Recherche De La Perouse' ('Travel to Entrecasteaux, Send The Search for La Perouse') was written by Chevalier de Rossel and published in 1808 in Paris. It consists of two volumes of which this is volume 1 detailing Bruny d'Entrecasteaux's 1791-1794 expedition to the Pacific in search of the missing French explorer la Perouse.
Bruny d'Entrecasteaux died near New Guinea on the return voyage and Élisabeth-Paul-Édouard de Rossel, a physicist with the expedition, edited d'Entrecasteaux's work on his return to Paris.
The disappearance of la Perouse's ships became one of the greatest maritime mysteries of the 18th century. Although he was sent primarily 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 first volume of the official account 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 the south-west of Western Australia.
HistoryIn 1791 Admiral Joseph-Antoine Raymond Bruny d'Entrecasteaux with the ships LA RECHERCHE and L'ESPERANCE (under the command of Capt. Huon de Kermadec) left France to search for the missing explorer Jean-Francois de Galaup, Comte de la Perouse. The expedition was also tasked to conduct scientific work and anthropological and botanical surveys of the places it visited.
D'Entrecasteaux left Brest on 28 September 1791 with directions to explore the South-west of Australia, Tasmania, the Gulf of Carpentaria, New Caledonia, the Solomon Islands, North-east New Guinea and to search for signs of la Perouse and his ships - still missing more than three years after last being seen in Sydney in March 1788.
Stopping briefly at the Cape of Good Hope, d'Entrecasteaux heard about French clothes and objects that had 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 1792 the expedition searched the seas north and north-east of New Guinea. Finding nothing they sailed for Amboina for a refit and resupply before heading down the Western Australian coast to complete charting of the south-west.
D'Entrecasteaux's ships then sailed eastwards and completed some work in Tasmania started the previous year. They sailed into the Pacific, via New Zealand to the Santa Cruz Group where further detailed survey work was undertaken. While there they actually sighted Vanikoro Island (where la Perouse's ships were wrecked) but did not stop to investigate. This was the second time that a European vessel had come close to finding traces of La Perouse's missing ships; HMS PANDORA had sailed past Vanikoro in August 1791 during their search for the 'pirated' BOUNTY. Although plumes of smoke were detected, the Pandoras did not bother to investigate such obvious signs of habitation.
Although he did not locate the missing ships, d'Entrecasteaux conducted important scientific research and exploration of the western Pacific, Western Australia and Tasmania. While at Recherche Bay, Tasmania in 1792, they 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 died of scurvy off the north-east of New Guinea on 20th July.
Captain Huon de Kermadec had died previously and the expedition was taken over by Lt. d'Aribeau. They sailed to Surabaya in the Dutch East Indies where they heard their King had been executed and the newly formed Republic of France was at war. Sympathetic to the French royalist cause, d'Aribeau surrendered the ships to Dutch authorities and it was several years before the crews returned to France.
One result of this action by d'Aribeau was that the research notes and survey details compiled during d'Entrecasteaux's expedition were purloined by the British (Dutch allies) in 1793 and not returned to France until 1802.
The official publication 'Voyage de d'Entrecasteaux, envoye a la recherche de La Perouse', detailing the expedition, was compiled by de Rossel and published six years after the expedition papers were returned to France.
As part of the expedition the d'Entrecasteaux expedition had produced twelve charts 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 the expedition's botanist Jacques Labillardiere was published in 1800. Entitled 'Relation du voyage a la recherche de La Pérouse' it was printed in four separate English editions; testament to the popular interest the d'Entrecasteaux expedition excited!
Primary title: Voyage de d'Entrecasteaux, envoye a la recherche de la Perouse, Volume 1
Web title: Voyage De d'Entrecasteaux, Envoye A La Recherche De La Perouse, volume 1
Primary title: Voyage of D'Entrecasteaux, sent in search of la Perouse, Volume 1