Freycinet Collection
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Items featured in the Freycinet Collection

Freycinet – Our French Collection

Maps and drawings from the Freycinet collection go on public display from Sunday 23 February through Sunday 30 March. The exhibition entitled "Freycinet – Our French Collection" includes all 18 items purchased at a Christies’ auction in September 2002 as well as several published accounts of French voyages of exploration.

The role played by the French in the exploration and charting of Australia’s coastline has sometimes been neglected and Dutch and English navigators somewhat better known. But the Australian coast is rich in French nomenclature. Esperance, Geographe Bay, and Cape Naturaliste are names with which we are very familiar. This exhibition will help to restore the balance and give the French the recognition they deserve.

Materials on display date from the voyage of Nicolas Baudin 1800-1804 and that of Louis de Freycinet 1817-1820. From the early voyage the most popular item is likely to be the first detailed chart of the Swan River created by Francois Boniface Heirisson in June 1801.

The Swan River chart is over 1 metre long and shows depth soundings taken from the mouth at Fremantle right up to the Helena River entrance. It is easy to recognise the major features of the river like Point Walter, the Narrows and, of course, Heirisson Island.

The most spectacular image dates from Freycinet’s visit to Shark Bay on the Uranie in 1818. This is a beautiful watercolour of the observatory set up on the beach of the Peron Peninsular. Shown seated outside her tent is Rose Freycinet – the first depiction of a white woman in Western Australia.

The exhibition includes many historical items kindly loaned to the State Library from the WA Maritime Museum and the Art Gallery of Western Australia. The support of Mr Hugh Edwards has also been much appreciated.

Purchase of the Freycinet Collection

The Western Australian State Library Custodians coordinated a campaign which raised almost $1.2 million. Bidding at a Christies’ auction in London the Custodians were successful in acquiring 7 lots. The campaign involved many people in a collaborative effort to raise funds for the auction and assistance from colleagues across the Department of Culture and the Arts is acknowledged.

The Custodians acknowledge the support of the Hon Sheila McHale, MLA, Minister for Culture and the Arts,the State Government of Western Australia and many corporate sponsors. Major sponsors were R.I.C. Publications and Woodside Valley Estate, and Mr Kerry Stokes. Other important contributors were Woodside Petroleum, Wesfarmers, BHPBilliton, Clough Ltd and Shark Bay Resources.


R.I.C. Publications
R.I.C. Publications
Woodside Valley Estate
Woodside Valley Estate
BHP Billiton
The Petroleum Club of W.A.
Background and Sponsors | Items Featured in the Freycinet Collection
© State Library of Western Australia, 2002