Baudin’s anchorages, landings & visits – 1802.04.06 – 1803.02.11, by Brown, Anthony J.

Baudin’s anchorages, landings & visits – 1802.04.06 – 1803.02.11

Anthony J. Brown, compiler

(Crossing Bass Strait, Baudin sighted Wilson ‘s Promontory on 28 March 1802, and began a running survey of the south coast. He remained in S.A. waters from 2 April to 8 May 1802. No landings were made on this visit.
Sources: N. Baudin, Journal, 1974; F. Péron, Voyage of Discovery, 1809).

RIVOLI BAY 6 April 1802.

‘During the morning we coasted a very large bay, forming, in its North-East section, a fairly deep indentation. … the whole coast is shielded by a reef and a line of large rocks that prevent any landing there’. (BJ)

CAPE RABELAIS 6 April 1802.

‘The cape is a projecting point that rises sheer out of the sea’. (BJ)

BAUDIN ROCKS 7 April 1802.

‘In bearing away to head further out to sea, we were quite amazed to see a rock at water level …This rock is surrounded by reefs and appears to be joined to the mainland by a chain of rocks’. (BJ)

LACEPEDE BAY 7 April 1802.

‘The human race seemed numerous on this coast, if we might judge from the numberless fires which we saw at the farther end of Lacepede Bay’. (PV).

ENCOUNTER 8 & 9 April 1802.

8 April. ‘Towards three o’clock we began to see some high terrain … Shortly after, we sighted a ship … at five o’clock, when we were both able to see each other clearly, this ship made a signal which we did not understand and so did not answer. She then ran up the English flag and shortened sail. We for our part hoisted the national flag, and I braced sharp up to draw alongside her. As they spoke us first, they asked what the ship was. I replied that she was French. Then they asked if Captain Baudin was her commander.

When I said yes, the English ship brought to. Seeing her make ready to send a boat across, I likewise brought to to wait for it. The English captain. Mr. Flinders … came aboard, expressed great satisfaction at this agreeable meeting, but was extremely reserved on all other matters. … I informed him of all that we had done up till then in the way of geographical work. As it was already late, Mr. Flinders said that if I were willing to stand off and on till dawn, he would return the following day … I was very gratified by his proposal and we agreed to remain together during the night’. (BJ)

9 April. ‘[Mr. Flinders] arrived at half past six, accompanied by the same person [Robert Brown] as on the earlier occasion. As he was much less reserved on this second visit, he told me that his ship was the Investigator and that he had left Europe about eight months after I had. He also told me that he had begun his exploration of the coast of New Holland at Cape Leeuwin. He had visited the Isles of St. Peter and St. Francis, as well as all the coast of New Holland up to the point of our meeting. In addition, he informed me of the lay-out of a port that he had discovered [which] he had named Kanguroo Island because of the great numbers of that animal that he had found there.

Before we separated, Mr. Flinders gave me several charts published by Arrowsmith since our departure. As I told him of the accident that had befallen my dinghy and asked him to give it all the help he could if he should chance to meet it, he told me of a similar misfortune that had happened to him, for he had lost eight men and a boat on his Kangaroo Island [sic]…. Upon leaving, Mr. Flinders said that he was going to make for [Bass] strait and try to find some land which was said to exist between the Hunter Group and the place they have named Western Port. We parted at eight o’clock, each wishing the other a safe voyage’. (BJ)


‘Beyond a bay about ten miles in width at the mouth … we discovered the peninsula Fleurieu, which is 15 or 16 leagues in length, formed of very high lands and elevations of mountains …‘ (PV)

KANGAROO ISLAND 10 & 11 April, 15 April 1802.

11 April. ‘We sailed along a fairly considerable stretch of the eastern coast of Kangaroo Island … The hinterland looks rather pleasant, and although most of the trees had lost their leaves, there remained enough greenery for the view to be attractive’. (BJ)

15 April. ‘I did not expect to find so long an island off the mainland coast … The entire coast that we examined … was high and rose steeply from the shore. This island presents an agreeable and very varied aspect [and gave us] more pleasure than all the coast that we had seen so far“. (BJ)

GULF ST. VINCENT (Golfe de Ia Mauvaise (BJ), Golfe Josephine (PV)) 12-14 April 1802.

‘I gave this gulf the name of Golfe de la Mauvaise because of the fatigue it caused the whole crew’ (133). ‘The 13th of April was marked by extreme danger; attacked by dreadful squalls of wind, we were obliged, through the whole night, to beat to windward in the east gulf, having several times not more than a few feet water …‘ (PV)

SPENCER GULF (Golfe de la Melomanie (BT), Golfe Bonaparte (PV))

18-24 April 1802.

19 April. ‘At seven [a.m.] land was sighted from the mastheads. It stretched from East-North-East to North-North-West, proving only too plainly that we were in a gulf, judging from the general shallowness of the water and the progressive decrease in its depth as we headed either East or West towards one coast or the other’. (BJ)

‘This vast gulf appears at the mouth like a large river, and insensibly becomes narrower towards the end. On the western shore … and near the entrance is the port Champagny [Port Lincoln], one of the finest and safest harbours of all New Holland’. (PV)

SLEAFORD BAY (Baie Lavoisier) 27 April 1802.

‘As the bay lies between a range of mountains, I expected to find good shelter there overnight, but the winds did not allow us to reach its furthest part. … The shores are merely barren sand, and the mountains forming each end of it are nothing but enormous piles of rocks’. (BJ)


CAPE ADIEU 8 May 1802.

‘We headed north, bearing slightly West, to stand in for the mainland [and] to rejoin the coast at the point at which General d’Entrecasteaux seems to have left it …Serious reflections upon the position I was in, the weakness of my crew, … our pressing need for firewood, the shortness of the days, all decided me to abandon the coast … and proceed to Port Jackson. As the change of course was soon known, everyone expressed satisfaction at it, and truly, we were all very much in need of a little rest’. (BJ)

(Baudin remained at Port Jackson from mid-June to mid-November 1802. He returned to S.A. waters in January 1803, accompanied by Lieut. Louis de Freycinet in the schooner Casuarina. On this second voyage landings were made on Kangaroo Island the St. Francis and St. Peter Islands, and at Murat Bay.)

KANGAROO ISLAND (named île Borda by Baudin, île Decrès by Freycinet) 2 January – 1 February 1803.

2 January. ‘I decided to [survey] the southern portion of this island with the ship [and] ordered Mr. Freycinet to follow us, coasting the land as closely as he could and examining all inlets which seemed likely to offer anything of interest’. (BJ)

3 January ‘we continued the geographic work on the southern portion of Kangaroo Island …From the observed latitude on this day and from the [known] latitude of the northern part of this island, it was easy for us to judge that it was not very broad from North to South, and …extremely narrow in relation to its length’. (BJ)

4 January. ‘The whole southern portion of this island is nothing but sand dunes and rocky plateaux We did not find a single place where landing appears possible, so heavily does the sea break all along the shore’. (BJ)

5 January. ‘In the morning …we sighted part of the land forming the West coast of the first gulf [Gulf St. Vincent]’. (BJ)

6 January. (Baudin anchored in Flinders’ Nepean Bay, and sent boat parties to examine the eastern and western shores). ‘This bay …is the largest of all bays around the coast. It is also the most important; its situation shields it from the south-westerly winds, and its size makes it suitable for harbouring numerous fleets’. (PV2)

7 January – 1 February. (Baudin remained at anchorage in Nepean Bay until 1 February. During his stay the Bay and nearby coasts were charted, a long-boat was rebuilt with native timber, Bernier the astronomer set up an observatory ashore, the naturalists made many excursions collecting specimens, and nearly 20 kangaroos and two emus were captured alive for transportation to France. On 10 January Freycinet and Boullanger, the geographer, were despatched in Casuarina to survey the two Gulfs).

GULF ST. VINCENT AND SPENCER GULF (Golfes Joséphine and Bonaparte) 10 – 31 January. [No landings]

11-18 January. (Freycinet completed survey of Gulf St. Vincent). ‘As our companions proceeded up the gulf, they could see the two sides coming together and forming what looked like the bed of a big river. They were hoping to make some important discovery when, arriving at the head of this vast bay, they found it to end in low, sunken land, without any appearance of an opening or a connection with the hinterland’. (PV2)

19 January. ‘[Our companions] doubled Cape Elisa [Troubridge Point] at 7 in the morning and soon ran aground on a fairly extensive sandbank’. (PV2)

20-29 January. (Freycinet rounded Cape Spencer on 20 January, and reached the head of the gulf – ‘low-lying land that appeared to be connected to the east and west shores, without any sort of opening between them’ (PV2) – on 22 January). 22-24 January. ‘Obliged by contrary winds to tack about for almost 60 hours in these dangerous waters, Messrs. Freycinet and Boullanger had only too much time to determine accurately the position and extent of these shoals’ (PV2). 28-29 January. ‘Port Champagny [Port Lincoln] consists of three basins, … all of them … capable of harbouring all the navies of Europe’ (PV2). (Delayed by calms, Casuarina returned to Kangaroo Island 1 February).

(Baudin had ordered Freycinet to rendezvous with him at Kangaroo Island no later than 31 January. Géographe was under sail off the north coast of the island when Casuarina was sighted at 2 p.m. ‘I expected that as soon as she saw us, she would go on the same tack as us and follow us, [but] she continued running East, and so rapidly, that by 3.30 she was out of sight’ (BJ). Baudin shortened sail for overnight, but Freycinet passed unseen in the night. Both ships made for the next rendezvous at St. Peter and St. Francis Islands).

ST. PETER ISLANDS AND MURAT BAY 5- 11 February 1803.

(Baudin sighted islands 5 February, anchored in Murat Bay on 7th. Boat parties landed on islands and mainland to examine shores. Géographe sailed on 11 February for next rendezvous at King George Sound).

ST. FRANCIS ISLANDS 5 -7 February 1803.

(Casuarina reached St. Francis Islands – 25 miles south of St. Peter group – 5 February.

Freycinet remained for two days searching for Baudin, then sailed for King George Sound).



Quotations are from (1) The Journal of Post Captain Nicolas Baudin (BJ), translated by Christine Cornell (Adelaide, Libraries Board of SA, 1974); (2) Francois Péron: A Voyage of Discovery to the Southern Hemisphere … (PV), translated from the French (London, R. Phillips, 1809; repr. Melbourne, Marsh Walsh Publ., 1975); and (3) an unpublished translation of Vol. II of Péron and Freycinet’s Voyage de découvertes aux terres australes (Paris, 1816) by C. Cornell (PV2) undated).


One thought on “Baudin’s anchorages, landings & visits – 1802.04.06 – 1803.02.11, by Brown, Anthony J.

  1. It is with great sadness that we have learned of the death of Tony Brown, which occurred in Adelaide on 2019.09.14.
    His book “Ill-starred captains – Flinders and Baudin” (2000), is a researched reference for all things related to the early exploration and discovery of Australia.
    Our warmest feelings of sympathy and condolence to Michael Owen-Brown, his son.
    Gabriel & Jacqueline Bittar

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *