Public Art : Nicolas Baudin bust (also known as Nicholas Baudin statue)
Sculptor : © Peter Gelencser
Description : Bronze bust of French explorer Nicolas Baudin looking outoverlooking King George Sound
Date Unveiled : The Baudin bust was unveiled by the Western Australian Governor, Lieutenant-General John Sanderson, in 2003. During his speech Lieutenant-General Sanderson said the statue highlighted the diversity of WA’s background that is today dominated by British heritage.
Location : At a roadside lookout at the boardwalk near Middleton Beach, Albany, Western Australia.
Casted : Kurandy Castings
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 Paris.
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
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.
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.
Nicholas Baudin Trivia : In 1803 Nicholas Baudin sailed his ship into King George Sound, leading one of a number of French expeditions to the area.
Baudin was responsible for the French names of many places in the WA, including the Recherche Archipelago and D’Entrecasteaux Point.