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One of the Earliest Maps of Port Jackson - From the Expedition of Nicholas Baudin

The two maps reflect one of the earliest scientific surveys of Port Jackson and the area around Sydney Harbor, undertaken by the French in 1802. During Nicolas Baudin's scientific expedition to complete the French survey of Australia's coast, Baudin's colleague Louis de Freycinet created these maps around Port Jackson and undertook soundings supplementing the earliest English surveys of the region.

The waters around Sydney were first charted by William Dawes, William Bradley and John Hunter, following the arrival of the First Fleet in 1788. As noted in the Dictionary of Sydney (on line):

Hunter's main task on arriving in Sydney was the surveying of the local rivers and harbours. By 6 February 1788, Bradley and Hunter had surveyed Port Jackson from the Heads to 'The Flats' (present day Homebush Bay), plus Middle Harbour and the lower Lane Cove River. In the following year, Bradley surveyed Parramatta River from The Flats to Rose Hill (present day Parramatta). He also did a detailed survey in 1789 of a cove on the north side of the Harbour (present day Mosman Bay), where the Sirius was refitted. A sketch map by Dawes, with soundings taken by Hunter, has a different set of soundings from those in Bradley's map of March 1788. Bradley undertook various other short surveys and recorded various observations of the local Aboriginal people. He, with Hunter, also surveyed Norfolk Island after the Sirius was wrecked there.

Freycinet's survey was the next significant survey of the harbor, adding to and improving the work of Hunter, et al. The map appeared in the atlas which accompanied the Atlas volume (volume 3) of Freycinet's Voyage de decouvertes aux terres Australes . . . Using the outline of the Bay by Hunter, Freycinet adds a

detailed contemporary representation of the colony. The map of Port Jackson offers a closer view than the maps upon which it seems to have been based and therefore includes additional details such as the names of numerous points and covers along the coastline, location of fresh water sources and Sydney Harbour's point of longitude from Paris. The map of the County of Cumberland shows the roads linking each of the colony's townships, indicating the size and shape of each town, as well as features such as waterfalls and rivers at the edge of the mountains and some notes about the fertility of land at different points near the mountain range.

Baudin Napoleon and the Exploration of Australia, Nicole Starbuck (2013).

Louis Claude Desaulses de Freycinet Biography

Louis Claude Desaulses de Freycinet (1779-1841) was a French hydrographer and explorer. He joined the French Navy in 1793. In October 1800, at the age of 21, Freycinet set off in the Naturaliste, part of an exploratory expedition to chart Australia. He was accompanied on this voyage by his brother, Louis-Henri, who would go on to become an admiral.

In Sydney, the leader of the expedition, Nicholas Baudin, purchased a 29-foot vessel. He named it Casuarina and placed Freycinet, who had proven himself an adroit hydrographer, in command. With his new charge, Freycinet was to perform inshore surveys. During the course of 1802, the Casuarina charted large portion of the southern coast of Australia.

Freycinet returned to France in 1804. Since Baudin had died in Mauritius, the naturalist Francois Peron and Freycinet were directed to prepare for publication the official account of the voyage, with an accompanying atlas. The official account appeared over ten years and in four volumes. The first narrative of the voyage, primarily by Peron, was published in 1807. The second narrative volume was published in 1816 and was written primarily by Freycinet. Peron had died in 1810. The first part of the Atlas, which contained 40 engraved plates, two of them folding, appeared in 1807. The second atlas, was published in 1811 with 14 engraved charts, two of them double-page. These double-page maps include a map of the Australian continent, the first map to show the continent in its entirety and made partially from Matthew Flinders’ papers.

His publications stemming from the Baudin expedition would have been enough to secure the fame of Louis Freycinet. However, he is perhaps best known today for his second voyage to the Pacific, one he commanded in the Uranie. From 1817 to 1820, Freycinet cruised the Pacific performing experiments and, of course, making detailed charts. He was accompanied by his wife Rose.

Although the Uranie was wrecked in the Falklands on the return journey, the natural historical specimens and geographical notes were saved. They were published in 13 volumes with 4 additional volumes of plates and maps between 1824 and 1844.

The voyage secured Freycinet a place in the Academie des Sciences. He also went on to help found the Paris Geographical Society, the first such group of its kind. Louis Freycinet died in 1841.