The Freycinet Collection

There are exciting plans being made for the Freycinet Collection, which is held at the State Library of Western Australia. In 2014 the Library will celebrate its 125th year and, as part of the celebrations, the Freycinet Collection will be highlighted. The plans include hiring a musician to compose a piece of music inspired by the collection and – Ta-rah! – launching my book, To See the World: a voyage of discovery aboard the sailing ship Uranie. I am absolutely delighted!

Other plans include providing greater access to the journal of Dr Joseph Paul Gaimard. He was the doctor who sailed aboard the Uranie and treated Rose when she almost died from food poisoning in the islands north of Australia. His friendship with both Rose and Louis continued after the voyage and it was he who helped Rose nurse Louis through the bout of cholera he suffered in Paris in 1883. Sadly he was unable to save Rose’s life a second time and, although Louis made a complete recovery, she contracted the disease and died within 24 hours.

The first part of Dr Gaimard’s journal was written down by Louis de Freycinet’s secretary. The second part is in Dr Gaimard’s own handwriting and the margins are embellished with drawings and paintings by Jacques Arago. The large folio-size journal contains 489 pages and 150,000 words. When Dr Gaimard ran out of pages in this book he continued his journal in smaller notebooks and even on single sheets of paper, but these were lost when the Uranie was wrecked in the Falkland Islands. The journal has never been translated into English. It would be a mammoth task and well beyond the resources of the the team who are organising the celebration. But there is a suggestion that perhaps the pages relating to the time the Uranie spent in Shark Bay could be translated for 2014. Another possibility is that people from France with expertise and interest in the impact of the de Freycinets on our early history could be invited to come here.

Whatever happens, 2014 is looking like being a very exciting year.

Dr Gaimard’s journal is much bigger than this. The journal of Rose de Freycinet is from the same voyage

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