The Baudin Expedition and the Aborigines of 'Botany Bay': Colonial Ethnography in the Era of Bonaparte

Nicole Starbuck

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Recording their entry through Sydney Heads in mid-1802, the members of the Nicolas Baudin Expedition made no mention of the Aboriginal men, women and children who must have been watching from ashore or who, according to custom, most likely rowed out in canoes to meet their ships. Neither did those aboard the Naturaliste, which arrived ahead of the Géographe, express any curiosity about whether their companions, stranded ashore after their dinghy capsized in a storm, had come into contact with the Indigenous people. Their attention was elsewhere: they counted the other vessels sighted ahead in the port, searched for other discovery ships, and, on the quarter-deck, noted the distant sound of a nine-canon salute – the British colonists, they presumed, were celebrating St George’s Day (Breton: 4 floreal an X [24 April 1802]). As they sailed toward the colony, the Frenchmen apparently gave little thought to the Indigenous life around them. They were preoccupied, instead, with anticipation of the comforts and company to be found ahead among their fellow Europeans in Sydney-Town.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)29-43
Number of pages15
JournalZeitschrift für Australienstudien (Australian Studies Journal)
Publication statusPublished - 2018
Externally publishedYes


  • Australian studies
  • History
  • Australian Aboriginal
  • Nicolas Baudin
  • Sydney Heads
  • Indigenous Australians


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