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After Baudin

It was to be 13 years before another ‘voyage de curiosité’ was mounted although in the twenty years after Baudin’s voyage of scientific exploration a further five French expeditions passed through the western Pacific touching and botanizing in Australia. Apart from voyages specifically dedicated to science there many of a more political kind but even so the collection of plants and animals to supplement the collections in Paris were encouraged. Among the better known naturalists who collected plants on scientific and other voyages were: Jules Dumont D’Urville, Joseph Gaimard, Pierre Adolphe Lesson, and Charles Gaudichaud-Beaupré.

Louis de Freycinet expedition 1817-1820

Having demonstrated his navigational and leadership ability and completed the second volume report of Baudin’s voyage, Louis Freycinet was given command of the frigates Physicienne and L’Uranie for a further scientific voyage, this time initiated by Louis XVIII, and intended to complete Baudin’s work and circumnavigate the continent of Nouvelle Hollande.

The vessels put in to Shark Bay in September 1818 and for a fortnight many plants were collected by Jean Quoy and Charles Gaudichaud-Beaupre. Naturalist Joseph Gaimard was on the Uranie with his assistant and pharmacist in charge of botany Charles Gaudichaud-Beaupré who had studied botany at the Natural History Museum in Paris under Laurent de Jussieu. While in Sydney in 1819 this pair made collections in the Blue Mountains assisted by Cunningham and Fraser, the scientists being given a port building by Governor Macquarie to use as an observatory.

Leaving Sydney in February 1820 on the return journey L’Uranie was shipwrecked on the Falkland Islands. Some of the collections and records were salvaged but 2,500 of the 4,175 plant specimens were lost. Sailors and remaining specimens returned to France on 13 November 1820. However, overall the expedition was not very productive for New Holland, producing a slightly improved plan of Shark Bay although Gaudichaud’s herbarium from the entire expedition numbered about 3,000 species 500 new to the Natural History Museum.[1] An atlas of botanical illustrations was produced from the expedition.

Voyage of Le Coquille (1822-1825)

Commander Louis Duperrey had been persuaded by Dumont D’Urville to undertake a new voyage. D’Urville had published a Latin botanical account of his voyage on the Chevrette in the Greek archipelago from 1919-1820 and was placed second in command of Le Coquille a transport ship converted into a corvette, he was also in charge of botany, entomology, ethnology and philology while Victor Lottin was in charge of geography and hydrography , and Rene Lesson in charge of zoology. D’Urville was especially interested in marine algae collecting in the Falklands and Chilean coast then on to Peru. On Tahiti it was found that missionaries from London’s Royal Society, who had arrived in 1797, had instilled a sense of reserve in the women of the island. Expecting to leave the ship naked the sailors instead were met with formal handshakes and meals eaten with forks.[2]

In Australia the ship put in to Port Jackson, welcomed by Governor Brisbane and staying from Jan. 17 to Mar. 25, collecting in the Blue Mountains, D’Urville still collecting algae and ferns, and then on to Van Diemen’s Land.

Voyage of L’Astrolabe (the former Le Coquille) (1826-1829)

D’Urville wanted to concentrate now on specific regions, having in mind the Louisiade Archipelago, unexplored coastal New Guinea and New Britain, to which was added north-eastern New Zealand, the Loyalty Islands, and island groups around Tonga and Fiji. Surgeon-naturalists was Jean Quoy and Joseph Gaimard, pharmacist naturalist Pierre Lesson. They sighted New Holland on Oct. 7 1826 landing first at King George Sound (Port King George) then Western Port, Jervis Bay then anchoring at Port Jackson from Dec. 2-19. D’Urville noted that the city now open to free immigration had grown and improved substantially over the previous three years. They visited Fraser as Director of the Botanic garden who donated plants to Gaudichaud for a collection of natural history specimens being returned to the Natural History Museum in Paris.[3] There was also a visit to Hobart.


The Le Coquille expedition was assessed by the Academy of sciences in Paris as ‘scientifically exemplary’ D’Urville harvesting about 3,000 species of plants of which about 400 were probably new to science. The scientific account of the voyage was to take up seven volumes and four large folio atlases D’Urville starting work on the plants immediately but called off on another voyage his work was completed by Bory de Saint-Vincent, Adolphe Brongniart and Latreille.

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