Teacher’s notes for To See the World

These notes are designed to develop your students’ skills, understandings and processes, in line with the requirements of the Australian National Curriculum. The suggested activities are for the subject areas of Society and Environment, English and Maths, and are also designed to stimulate other ideas for extended research and investigation. Students can work individually, in pairs, in groups or as a class.

Before reading

Look carefully at the cover illustration.

  • What can you see in the background?
  • What does this tell you about the sort of story you will find inside?

Overlaid on this background there is a much sharper, more defined image.

  • When you look at this image, what does it remind you of?
  • Make a list of all the things you can see, in silhouette, around the edge of the circle.

Read To See the World

For more information, go to the back of the book and read the Historical Notes, the Bigger Picture and the Glossary.


Society and Environment

José’s mother gave him a cowrie shell on a leather thong to wear around his neck. He wore it throughout the voyage as a source of comfort and a reminder of home.

  • Where could you find a cowrie shell?
  • Some people say they can hear the sound of the sea when they hold a shell to their ear. Find out whether this is true.
  • Make a list of other types of shells that were used for specific purposes in the past. For example, conch shells—for sending signals over long distances; pearl shells—to make jewellery and buttons.

On page 12 of To See the World there is a picture of a palanquin.

  • What was it used for?
  • Find out what other forms of transport were used in those days.

As far as we know, Rose de Freycinet was the first European woman to set foot in Western Australia. She was also present when first contact was made with the Malgana Aboriginal people at Shark Bay.

  • Through her eyes, write an account of the people Rose encountered there. Describe their hair style, what they wore, their weapons and the environment in which they lived (see the illustration on page 62).
  • Compare Rose de Freycinet’s own type of clothing and lifestyle in Paris in the early 1800s with that of the people she encountered at Shark Bay.

The French Navy had regulations that forbade women to sail on board naval vessels.

  • Write down as many reasons as you can for this rule. Do you think this regulation was a fair one?
  • Find out what percentage of women sail on naval vessels today.
  • Compare attitudes to women in our society then and now.
  • How many women hold seats in the present Australian Federal Parliament?

Women of Rose’s social class in the 1800s were expected to marry, have children, stay at home to look after them and organise the household for the comfort and satisfaction of their husbands. If they were well off financially, they would have a number of servants to help them.

  • What are the expectations that society places on women today?
  • Are their lives easier or harder than in Rose’s day?
  • Divide an A4 page in half. On one side list the things that make women’s lives easier today. On the other side, list the things that make women’s lives harder.

During the voyage around the world, the Uranie had two close encounters with pirates.

  • Draw your own impression of a pirate. Start with a stick figure and add a face, hair, clothes and weapons.
  • Look at the picture on page 90 of To See the World. These are very different looking pirates, but just as deadly.
  • Are there any modern-day pirates? What do they look like? How do they dress?
  • Imagine that you were captured by pirates in the waters off the coast of Somalia. Write a story, play or film script about your experience.

English (Reading)

The Commander, Louis de Freycinet, was already a famous navigator when he set out in the Uranie in 1817 to sail around the world. In your library you will find books about other French navigators, such as Baudin, D’Entrecasteaux, and La Pérouse, who explored the coast of Australia in sailing ships in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. Find these navigators by checking the reference list at the end of the teachers’ notes or do a Google search.

  • What sort of navigation equipment did these sailors use?
  • How did people on shore, or aboard other ships, communicate with sailors while they were at sea?
  • How long did it take for Rose de Freycinet to receive her mother’s letters from France? (See pages 126 and 134 of To See the World.)
  • Make a list of navigation and communication devices available on board ships today.

Read the story of the Dutch navigator, Abel Tasman, in My Father’s Islands by Christobel Mattingley. Two hundred years separate the voyages of Abel Tasman and Louis de Freycinet, but some things had not changed. Those on board still relied on the eyes and ears of the man on lookout duty in the ‘crow’s nest’ at the top of the mast to keep the ship from foundering.

  • Check the Glossary on pages199 and 200 for more nautical terms.
  • Create a crossword puzzle for your school magazine using some of the terms from the Glossary as clues.

English (Writing)

Select one or two major events in To See the World and retell them from the point of view of:

  • José
  • the Commander
  • Madame

If Jacques Arago had not played his castanets when they met the Aboriginal people at Shark Bay, history could have turned out quite differently.

  • Using the picture on page 62 of To See the World as a reference, rewrite this moment in history as you imagine it could have been without the use of the castanets.
  • Jacques Arago used his castanets in another situation during the voyage. Where was that? How many islanders were involved? How many Frenchmen?

Have you ever been camping out in the bush with no toilet or shower, no signal on your mobile phone and no power points to charge up your electronic devices?

  • Read the account of the shipwreck in To See the World (pages153–157). Imagine yourself in a similar situation and write your own story of the experience.

To See the World is a metafiction—a story within a story. José alludes to this for the first time on page 129.

  • Do a Google search for other metafictions.
  • Write a meta-fiction of your own.

List, in order, three of your favourite characters from To See the World.

  • Write a sentence about why you chose each character.
  • Write a poem featuring one of the characters.

English (Speaking and Listening)

By the time Rose de Freycinet arrived back in France in 1820, she had become something of a celebrity. She was the first woman to keep such a detailed written account of her experiences while sailing around the world and was invited to speak about the voyage on numerous occasions.

In pairs: Choose one person to be Rose de Freycinet and the other to be a journalist writing for a French magazine.

  • Conduct an interview with Madame Rose de Freycinet. Take notes. Record some of her comments to use as quotes in your article.
  • Swap roles with your partner. This time conduct an interview with José.

In groups: Choose a scene from To See the World and develop a short play or skit.

  • Write a script.
  • Gather costumes and props.
  • Present your play to the class or at your school assembly.

Two or more groups could combine to make a more extensive production involving several scenes.

Rose de Freycinet took a guitar with her on her voyage around the world so that she could teach herself to play it. Someone else on board the Uranie was carrying a musical instrument.

  • What was the instrument?
  • Who carried it?

In class:

  • Develop and present a song/anthem/dance depicting aspects of the Uranie’s voyage around the world.
  • Borrow some castanets from your school music room or pre-primary classroom and create different rhythms, for example warlike rhythms, an energetic dance and a slow march.
  • Play the castanets while others play other instruments.

Maths (Measurement – Mapping)

Examine the map of Shark Bay on page 50 of To See the World. Compare this map with a map of Shark Bay on Google Earth or with a recent map of Western Australia.

  • What are the obvious differences? Make a list of them.

On Google Earth or on a map of the world, locate Mauritius, Reunion, Uranie Rock and Uranie Bay. In 1820, Uranie Rock did not have a name and did not appear on any maps. The other locations in the above list did appear, but had different names.

  • As you read To See the World, make a note of the old names for these places. Clues can be found on pages 11 and 146.

Make a map of your whole school. Choose a smaller area within your map and make a larger, ‘to scale’ map of that. (You will need: a measuring wheel or metal tape, pen, paper, ruler)

The Uranie was a corvette built in the late 1790s. From the descriptions in To See the World, draw a cross-section diagram of the ship.

  • Include the Officers’ Mess, the galley, the portholes for firing cannon, the helm and the masts.
  • Find out what a French flag looks like and draw one flying from the top of the main mast.
  • Corvettes were used by the Australian Navy in World War II. How were they different from the Uranie?
  • Are corvettes still in use today?

Maths (Data collection)

Many of the European sailors on these early voyages of discovery could not swim.

  • Conduct a survey of your classmates to find out how many can swim and how many cannot swim. Put the results on a graph.
  • Find out how many of your classmates have been sailing, windsurfing or fishing from a boat? Add these results to your graph or make a separate one.

Because Louis de Freycinet knew that there would be no fresh water at Shark Bay, he agreed to try out the prototype of an invention, called a still, that could change sea water into fresh drinking water. The invention, trialled on board the Uranie in 1818, used the process of evaporation. Today there are many different types of stills, but they all use the process of evaporation.

  • Describe the way in which the still on board the Uraniewas constructed (read pages 21–25)
  • How are modern stills (desalination plants) constructed?
  • In which industries are they used today?
  • Use recycled materials to construct a working model of a still.

Feasibility Studies

Carry out a feasibility study on sustainable energy in your school.

For example: A desalination plant to provide water for the school vegetable garden; a windmill to generate electricity; solar power for garden and security lights.


Arago, Jacque, Souvenirs d’un avengle:Voyage outour du monde. 4 vols. Paris: Hortet et Ozanne, 1839.

Bassett, Marnie, Realms and Islands: The World Voyage of Rose de Freycinet in the Corvette Uranie 1817–1820. London: Oxford University Press, 1962.

Bloomfield, Noelene, Almost a French Australia: French–British Rivalry in the Southern Oceans. Ultimo, NSW: Halstead Press, 2012.

Brown, Anthony J., Flinders and Baudin: Ill-Starred Captains. Fremantle, WA: Fremantle Press, 2008.

Dillon, Harry & Butler, Peter, Macquarie: From Colony to Country. North Sydney, NSW: Random House, 2010.

Dyer, Colin, The French Explorers and the Aboriginal Australians 1772–1839. St Lucia, Qld: University of Queensland Press, 2005.

Kerfridin, Remi, Toulon decouvre son patrimoine. Extreme Eden edition, 2006.

McCarthy, Michael, ‘Rose de Freycinet and the French Exploration Corvette L’Uranie (1820): A Highlight of the “French Connection” with the “Great Southland”’, in The International Journal of Nautical Archaeology, vol. 34, no. 1, 2005: 62–78.

Marchant, Leslie, France Australe, Perth, WA: Artlook Books, 1982.

Riviere, Marc Serge, A Woman of Courage: The Journal of Rose de Freycinet on Her Voyage around the World 1817–1820. Canberra: National Library of Australia, 2003.


I am extremely grateful to Baron Henry de Saulses de Freycinet for his generous and enthusiastic support of my research and for allowing me access to the Archive de Laage.

To Dominique and Sonja Tichet who provided invaluable help with contacting the Chateau de Freycinet in Saulce-sur-Rhone.

To Monsieur and Madame Caire, present owners of the Chateau de Freycinet, for their preservation of the buildings and grounds, and for opening up their home to show me around.

To Emmanuelle Requin-Bekkers and her family for sharing their intimate knowledge of the old port of Toulon.

To Frank Wheatley for access to his extensive collection of old and rare books on the early navigators.

To Claire Codrington, Jean and Marise for passing on their first-hand knowledge of life on the islands of Mauritius, Reunion and Seychelles.

To Nadia Holloway, my French teacher, adviser and friend. Also Philippa Ryan, Tony Ryan and Mamie White who keep our French conversations lively and interesting.

The Australia Business Arts Foundation provided financial support for my research in France.

I must also thank Susan Hall and Irma Gold, the expert team at the National Library of Australia. And special thanks to Peter Forrestal for being my chauffeur and research organiser in France and my loving supporter at home.