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Blog post from Saturday, 20 June, 2015

On this day, 20th June 1802, French explorer and naturalist Nicolas Baudin arrived in Port Jackson, (Sydney) with the intention to claim Van Diemen’s Land (now Tasmania).

Late in 1800, Nicolas Baudin was commissioned to lead an expedition to complete a French survey of the Australian coastline, and make scientific observations, commanding two ships, ‘Le Géographe’ and ’Le Naturaliste’. Scientific investigations were carried out between May and July 1801, and again between January and May 1802. However, during this time, the ships were battered by bad weather, while the crew suffered debilitating sickness. Baudin decided to go to for Sydney for provisions, ship repairs and medical attention for his crew. By the time he sailed into Port Jackson on 20 June 1802, only four of the crew of the Le Géographe were well enough to work.

After spending several months in Port Jackson, and with his crew fully recovered, Baudin continued south to finish surveying Van Diemen’s Land, but not before revealing his intention to colonise Van Diemen’s Land.

Governor King sent Charles Robbins to Van Diemen’s land where he met Baudin and successfully persuaded him to abandon his plans.

The State Library of New South Wales holds a collection of Nicholas Baudin’s papers and drawings, 1800-1804 , which includes these illustrations of Australian fauna.

The State Library also holds a copy of Letters from the Geographe 8 October 1800-10 August 1803

A copy of his Journal du bord 1800-1803 (Original manuscript held in the Bibliotheque Nationale)