French voyages of discovery to Australia

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.

Written by Danielle Clode

29 Jun 2021

1 min read

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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.

This richly illustrated short documentary film 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.

Written and narrated in English by author and biologist, Dr Danielle Clode, and in French by Dr Christèle Maizonniaux, the full 45min film will premiere on SBS TV on Bastille Day 2021 and on SBS On Demand.

SBS TV and SBS OnDemand – 2pm Wednesday July 14th


Danielle Clode (Producer and Writer)

Christele Maizonniaux (Co-producer)

James Baker (Director)

Danielle Clode

Danielle is the award winning Australian author of In Search of the Woman who Sailed the World. Her writing includes natural history, essays, science-writing, historical fiction and best-selling children’s books. Her books have won the Victorian Premier’s Literary Award for non-fiction, Whitley Award for popular zoology and been shortlisted for the Children’s Book Council of Australia and National Biography awards and longlisted for The Nib Literary Award.

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