Nicolas Baudin Bust
Public Art : Nicolas Baudin Bust
Sculptor : © Peter Gelencser
Date Unveiled : The Baudin Bust was unveiled on
Saturday, 22rd October, 2005 by Hon Barry House MLC, Hon French Consul Michael Wood and Wardandi Elder Bill Webb.
It was estimated over 300 people attended the event.
Description : Bronze bust of French explorer Nicolas
Baudin looking out across Geographe Bay.
Location : The Baudin bust is located on the
Busselton beachfront at the end of Queen St, near the Busselton Jetty, Busselton, Western Australia.
Background to the Baudin Bust : The bust was
donated by the Terra Australis Committee as part of a project to recognize the Baudin Expedition. The Western
Australian Government made a grant of $20,000 for 8 busts to be erected throughout Western Australia including
Perth, Fremantle, Bunbury, Busselton, Augusta-Margaret River, Albany,
Broome and Denham.
Baudin Expedition To Terra Australis (1800-1804)
On the 19th October 1800, the Baudin Expedition set sail from Le Havre in Normandy, France, with
two ships, The Geographe and the Naturaliste. Captain Nicolas Baudin's second-in command was
Emmanuel Hamelin. 23 scientists were engaged from the domains of astronomy, botany, zoology,
mineralogy, horticulture and geography.
The ships anchored at present day Geographe Bay on 31st May 1801. First contacts were made here
with the indigenous peoples. Midshipman Vasse was drowned.
Separated by storms , the two captains charted the WA coast independently, from Cape Leeuwin to
Joseph Bonaparte Gulf, including the Swan River and Heirisson Island, named for oneof the Ship's
officers. Both ships carried out extensive work at Shark Bay.
Baudin's Expedition secured the most valuable natural history collection of its time- more than
200,000 specimens of flora and fauna were collected of which 2542 were new to science, doubling the
number of known species. It was the first time live animals were transported, which later formed a
small Australian zoo at the Empress Josephine's summer palace at Malmaison on the outskirts of
The expedition was responsible for hundreds of French place names in Australia, of which about 240
are still in use in WA. Baudin charted nearly two thirds of the Australian coastline, filling gaps
in the rudimentary Dutch maps, making the first detailed charts of the west and north coasts of
Western Australia and of the south-eastern coast of Van Diemen's Land.
A celebrated chance encounter on 8th April 1802 with Matthew Flinders gave the name to Encounter
Bay, SA. After resting in the young colony of Port Jackson, Baudin returned to WA, carrying out
extensive research at King George Sound. Baudin died of Tuberculosis on 16th September 1803 at Ile
de France (Mauritius) on the return journey. The expedition, now under the command of Milius
returned to Lorient in Brittany in March 1804.
Terra Australis 2001 WA Association Inc
Centenary of Federation Western Australia
So Who Was Nicolas Baudin? : Nicolas Thomas
Baudin (17th February, 1754 – 16th September, 1803) was a French explorer, cartographer and naturalist who
headed an expedition to map the coastline of Australia in the early 1800's.
The expedition commenced at the height of the Napoleonic wars (which was sparked by the French
Revolution) meaning Britain and France were at war. Needless to say it wasn't all smooth sailing amongst
the crew nor the passengers. By the time they had reached Mauritius 46 sailors and 10 experts had decided
to abandon the journey. With such a diverse collection of people trapped on the two overcrowded ships, it was
only natural there would be some tensions. In one corner you had the revolutionaries and in the other, the
monarchists. Not to mention the scientists and naval officers, who often didn't see eye to eye. However,
despite this, in the end the expedition was an amazing success.
During the Expedition Baudin bumped into English explorer, Matthew Flinders, who was also charting Australia but from the opposite
direction. Awkward, considering France and England were at war. They named the spot Encounter Bay (South Australia)
in honor of their chance meeting.
Unfortunately for Baudin he never made it back to France, dying instead in Mauritius (on his
homeward run) of tuberculosis. Even sadder, the world never got to read about his adventure first hand, instead it
was left to others (basically Francois Peron and Louis de Freycinet) who weren't particularly fond of him, to
write the history for him (and pretty much exclude him from it).
Later Freycinet would be accused of plagiarizing Flinders' charts whilst he was rotting away
in a jail in Mauritius but the claims were unfounded.