Sunday, 22 September 2013

Swansea and France

Today I travelled north to the Tasmanian east coast town of Swansea to listen to a concert by the highly esteemed Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra chorus. Francophiles may already know that the east coast of Tasmania has a French heritage: this connection was recognised during the concert when two songs were sung in French. As always I look for connections with my current life and my adventure to come in French Polynesia - but today the connections are difficult to make. But it is worth noting that French explorer Nicolas Baudin, who came to our Tasmanian east coast, did try and get to Tahiti but his government wouldn’t approve his plan. Earlier, one of Baudin’s compatriots had taken up the challenge: Louis-Antoine de Bougainville (1729–1811) travelled the world to find the great southern continent, but after reaching Tahiti and the Hebrides he stopped short of the Queensland coast. It was a fierce and uncertain world then: Marc-Joseph Marion Dufresne sailed from Mauritius to land on Tasmania in 1772, but did not find mainland Australia. He turned east, instead, to New Zealand where he and a number of his crew were killed and eaten by Maoris. Bruny d'Entrecasteaux visited southern Tasmania in 1792. The 1803 Baudin Expedition brought Freycinet to the east coast of Tasmania. Swansea was established in the 1820’s and is one of Tasmania’s oldest towns close by to our Freycinet National Park. While the English came to Australia mainly to colonise it, the French came for mostly for the purpose of discovery/science: the places, the plants and the people. A lot of scientists were on board the French ships that came with expertise in agriculture and horticulture. As well as names remaining, so too did some of the gardens they established when they were exploring. There is one that was recently discovered at Recherche Bay, left behind by the French explorers in the 1700s. The Freycinet peninsula (see Freycinet's original 19th century map) and national park were named after Louis and/or Henri de Freycinet, officers from Baudin's expedition. Also, the highest peak in the Hazard Range is Mt Freycinet. From Baudin's expedition, many places were named after Frenchman on board including: Cape and Mount Baudin, Taillefer (doctor) Rocks, Capes Peron (zoologist), Bernier (astronomer), Bailly (zoologist), Boullanger and Faure (geographers), Bay Reidle (gardener), Maurouard (petty officer), Lesueur (artist - his works from Tasmania are on display in the Le Havre museum in NW France) and on Maria Island Point Mauge (a zoologist who died there). A number of these remain as well as other places named at the time including Ile du Nord (on Maria Island) and Point Geographe. Refer to

No comments: