Plans and illustrations of LUranie (formerly La Ciotat) were obtained
from France by M. Philippe Godard. They were in turn passed on to Mr Robert
Sexton, of Adelaide, a maritime historian who is interested in French exploration
vessels and who has made a detailed study of Freycinets work in command
of the schooner Le Casuarina.
Mr Sexton has advised that the 350-ton Uranie measured 112 French feet (36m)
long by 28 feet in length and depth of hold of 14 feet. His analysis of
the plans also shows that:
LUranie had both a main or gundeck
and a lower deck, (the latter referred to by the French as the orlop
deck). The forecastle and poop decks, their upper deck,
were connected by broad gangways, and the opening left between them
was grated over. A dunette, cabin accommodation for the commander, was installed
aft over the full breadth of the quarterdeck, while cabins for the various
other officers were ranged around the after part of both gun-deck and between-decks
In the hold, the magazine aft was separated from a series of three full-width
bread rooms by a double-panel bulkhead, such as also separated the distilling
plant room forward from both the hold and the boatswains and master
gunners stores at the bows
[Items] seen here in at least one
view include the pumps, galley, distilling plant, and the metal belaying
pin racks and geared winches at the masts.
There are three royal pumps, the traditional wooden pump modified
by a metal tube in the working area, and a pair of double-acting pumps.
There are several strange features concerning the cooking arrangements.
Instead of being in their usual place in the forecastle, the galley and
bread oven were placed in the between-decks between mainmast and main hatch,
and far from being associated with the galley, the still was in the hold
just aft of the fore mast
. The series of iron tanks in the hold are
generally marked eau (water), but the two larger ones are marked légumes
engraving of a quarter view of the Uraniethe only source for the
stern decoration at this stageshows guns projecting from all the
it seems more likely that she would have mounted just three
guns each side in the waist as did the other exploring ships.
(R. Sexton, to McCarthy, 30/8/2001)
Rose de Freycinet
There was an illicit element to the Uranie voyage, for when Louis de Freycinets
expedition left France the 22-year-old Madame Rose de Saulces de Freycinet
(née Pinon) was aboard LUranie. This social element has added
immeasurably to the importance of the voyage and, it is expected, to the
significance of the archaeological remains.
It appears that Rose and Louis' preparations for smuggling her on board
began almost as soon as he was appointed commander of the new voyage of
exploration and circumnavigation in the Uranie. It also appears that he
extended the accommodation on board the ship to suit.
From a social perspective, these were to be the beginnings of one of France's
great and lasting love stories. It was one that so captured the imagination
of contemporary society that she and her husband were to be feted in the
salons of Paris on their safe return to France after many adventures,
and he was never censured by the French Navy despite initial indignation
once news of the tryst became known. The indignation was not universally
shared, for it appears that when news of their arrival at Gibraltar, where
Rose appeared disguised in a long blue frock-coat and trousers to
match, the Minister in Paris could have ordered her ashore at the
next suitable port, but decided to ignore the matter. (Dunmore, 1969:67).
Throughout the official accounts, including Louis own reports, Rose
de Freycinets presence on board was not mentioned, though a lasting
indirect reference appears in the naming of a new variety of dove Colombe
pinon found on islands off New Guinea (Dunmore, 1969:82), and two
ferns gathered by the botanists (Rivière, 1996:xxi). One official
hint appears in section iv of the scientists report entitled GEOGRAPHY
a small island to which he gave the name of
(Humboldt, et al., 1823).
This small island named by Freycinet from the name of someone who
is extremely dear to me (Voyage, vol ii:623-4) proved a delight
to Rose and she wrote on 21 October 1819 in her letters home that,
now it is done, my name has been linked with a small corner of the
The island lies in the Pacific, near Samoa. No doubt concerned about the
effect of their deception on his career, de Freycinet made few other references
to his wife in the official accounts, though Cape Rose in Shark Bay on
the west coast of Australia also refers.
In examining Freycinets actions in taking Rose with him, it needs
also be noted that Matthew Flinders also had harboured a plan to take
his wife Anne on his exploration voyage, at least to Port Jackson where
she was to stay while he completed his worka scheme that was abandoned
when she was found on board during an official inspection of the ship.
Further, a woman was on board one of Louis de Bougainvilles ships
on his circumnavigation (Godard to McCarthy, February, 2002), and Marie
Louise Victoire Giradin, disguised as a man, sailed as crew on board the
Recherche, one of dEntrecasteauxs ships. Unfortunately she,
like many others, died towards the end of the voyage, leaving the detail
of her story untold (Duyker & Duyker, 2001: xxv).
Thus in its execution and in the extant record, Rose De Freycinets
presence on board LUranie was remarkable to say the least and her
husband had taken a grave risk in regard to his career and future prospects
in the matter. Thus the trend, almost an agreed need, to make little mention
of Roses presence on board was continued where possible, even in
presenting the official works of the various artists.
Nevertheless, the voyage of the remarkably intelligent, courageous
and determined 22-year-old Rose de Freycinet (Grille, 1853), was
quietly celebrated in France in her own, tragically short, lifetime and
later with the publication of her journal in 1927 by M. Charles Duplomb.
Two modern accounts;
Marnie Bassetts Realms and Islands; The world voyage of
Rose de Freycinet 1817-1820 published in 1962 and
Marc Serge Rivières A Woman of Courage: The journal of
Freycinet on her voyage around the world 1817-1820 that was
published in 1996 has since served to whet the appetite of the
English-speaking world, for she provides a number of new
perspectives on exploration voyages, including, apart from
detailed comment on clothing and other personal matters, a
keen observing eye for customs (Dunmore, 1969:70)
Further, to the unique elements of it all the French author Gabriel Lafond,
who a few years later travelled along a similar route to LUranie,
recorded that the Freycinets were
well remembered, even
still discussed among Dutch, Spanish and Portuguese officials with
whom they came in contact. He also recorded that everywhere, as
one of Frances finest ornaments, she had excited sympathy
for her country, so lately wounded in its pride
(Quoted in Bassett, 1962: 46).
There were positive and nationalistic elements in it all, as Lafond records
below, and much of the latter appears dependent on the qualities of Rose
de Freycinet herself.
was also an apple of discord, thrown
to a crowd of young men whose
jealousies and passions could not fail to be aroused. Always of dignified,
becoming and discreet behaviours, never herself giving cause for a single
derogatory comment, by her mere existence young Mme de Freycinet furnished
a topic of conversation likely to disturb the good harmony, even the discipline,
essential to a naval ship (Quoted in Bassett,
Another contemporary, the Antarctic explorer James Weddell met the couple
in his travels and he also starkly places Rose de Freycinet in a number
of other useful social and historical contexts.
The extreme vivacity of Madame F. seemed well
to accord with the character of the French fair: it was reported, that
in the midst of the greatest danger and confusion, she retained a most
surprising firmness and composure of mind; resembling in this, according
to all accounts, the unexampled fortitude of many French ladies during
that murderous period of the French Revolution, when their dearest friends
and relations were torn from them by merciless assassins
Readers interested in Rose de Saulces de Freycinet, her time, her observations
and her travels are referred to the Bassett and Rivière accounts
for details, though excerpts of relevance to Australia and the archaeological
remains at both the wreck and campsite are reproduced here.
At Shark Bay: The de Vlamingh plate
Having elected not to land first at King George Sound as ordered, de Freycinet
brought LUranie to anchor off Dirk Hartog Island adjacent Cape Inscription
on 12 September 1818. The next day a boat was despatched to Inscription
Point in order to recover the Vlamingh plate. After a few days and with
some difficulty, the boat returned and the plate was brought on board
to the expectant Freycinet. In recovering the relic, contrary to his former
Captain Hamelins sentiments, de Freycinet utilised a time-honoured
logic in doing so, referring to its exposed location, the possibility
of damage or its recovery by less well intentioned others.
that such a rare plate might again be swallowed up by the sands, or else
run the risk of being taken away and destroyed by some careless sailor,
I felt that its correct place was in one of these great scientific depositories
which offer to the historian such rich and precious documents. I planned,
therefore, to place it in the collections of the Académie Royale
des Inscriptions et Belles-Lettres de LInstitut de France
(de Freycinet, Voyage Historique, Vol.I.:449).
While some will consider this act sound and reasonable in
the circumstances (Dunmore, 1969:73), many, including Jacques Arago, the
expedition draughtsman, will not agree. At the time, he noted that
M. Fabre had been directed to go in search of a plate of lead, left
on this land by its first discoverer. In fact, the plate has been carried
I abstain from all reflections on the circumstances.
(Footnote to letter LVI). Perhaps Arago
was aware that Hamelin had been quite forthright on the matter, stating
in his journal that it would have been a crime and a sacrilege
to remove the plate (Horner, 1987:175).
It is possible that Freycinet also removed Hamelins plate and certainly
the absence of the two plates created some concern just a few years later
when the Australian-born explorer Phillip Parker King (son of the Governor
with whom Baudin was earlier in contact) landed at Cape Inscription and
with eager steps hurried up to Hamelins two posts that
he could see were still standing. Expecting to view the two plates either
on the posts or, at worst, lying detached in the sand at the foot of the
posts, his reaction is recorded thus:
On reaching the top, however, they found the plates gone. King mortified,
and unwilling to accept that a civilized European could have committed
such an outrage, concluded that the Aboriginals had removed them (Hordern,
1997:341).While awaiting the return of the crew carrying the plate, Freycinet
moved LUranie across to Baie de Dampier (Broadhurst Bight at Cape
Peron) and established camp there. The observatory was duly set up and
with water supplies very low, Freycinet arranged for the ships iron
water tanks that replaced the wooden casks normally used for that purpose
to be replenished with fresh water.
In his account of them Freycinet refers to them as an ingenious
type of cask (Freycinet, 1829:1239). This was effected using an
alembic, or apparatus for distilling sea water. Although the
plant on board set fire to the deck and had caused other problems, a second
one set up ashore proved effective and soon began supplying fresh water.Rose
de Freycinets and Jacques Aragos letters concerning these
events appearing in Rivière read as follows;
oclock we anchored at the entrance of Shark Bay, near Dirck Hartogs
Island . . .we saw the low and arid coast of New Holland; there was nothing
in the sight to ease our minds, for we knew we would find no water in
this miserable land
The coast from the moment
we first saw it, exhibited nothing but a picture of desolation; no rivulet
consoled the eye, no tree attracted it; no mountain gave variety to the
landscape, no dwelling enlivened it: everywhere reigned sterility and
death. (Letter LIII).Freycinet
sent a boat to Dirck Hartogs Island to remove an inscription left
behind by the Dutch to mark their landing around 1600. It is a precious
object which we plan to take back to Paris. The artwork of the voyage
There is a great body of artwork extant. Of direct interest to those examining
the works from an Australian and Freycinet perspective is Alphonse Pellions
Baie des Chiens-Marins: Observatoire de lUranie which provides a
record of the camp. The published version shows Louis de Freycinet at
work on his observations at a table outside a very distinctive tent, whereas
Rose and a Mauritian boy appear seated nearby in his original and unofficial
This artwork is presented from the collections
of the National Library of Australia.
Rose de Freycinets
account of this scene reads;
I went ashore with Louis and we spend several days sleeping
under a tent. That stay on land was not a pleasant one for me, the country
being entirely devoid of trees and vegetation
When the heat died
down a little, I would collect shells, of which I have an impressive collection.
I spend the rest of the day in the tent reading or working
Meeting with the indigenous people.
Later our two observers, Rose de Freycinet and Jacques Arago, record a
meeting with Aboriginal people in a manner that reveals both the concerns
on both sides and the literary legacy that all mariners shared at the
21 September. . . .the natives,
no doubt frightened off by the number of people coming ashore, had retreated
on the day we first saw them. The previous day, after much hesitation,
they had come up to the men in the first camp and had exchanged their
weapons for tin, glass necklaces and so on.
After I had taken a dozen
steps, I distinguished on the sand some traces of a naked foot, that reminded
me of the situation in which Robinson Crusoe once found himself in
The exchange is also relevant in that the attitudes of those who landed
at New Holland on the Uranie voyage tended to reflect the negative opinions
of Dampier and the Dutch. Arago records their meetings with the Aboriginal
people which were made with a certain mistrust and when concerned
at a developing impasse, he produced a pair of castanets and played a
sort of tune which resulted in astonishment and then a dance
in response from some of the Aborigines. (Letter LIV).
It is in the context of the negative perceptions that the Uranie complement
had of the land and peoples at Shark Bay that Rose de Freycinets
mother was to advise her to
look at the drawings in Baudins voyage
and you will
have a true idea of these people (Quoted in Bassett,
1962:920). In many respects it is evident that the amount of time spent
in mixing with indigenous peoples and the philosophical tenets that underpin
contact between diverse peoples combine to affect the perspective of those
who report on the encounter.
Some survey work was accomplished by L. I. Duperrey during what transpired
to be quite a short stay, and on 26 September the ship left for Timor.
Landing at Timor
On the occasion of their landing at Dili, Pellion provides another official
and very dignified view of the officers disembarking to a salute of cannon
without Rose, while Arago shows the same scene, with Rose dressed in the
fashion of the time, supported on her husbands arm.
the National Library of Australia
It is interesting to note at this juncture that it was earlier in the
voyage at Gibraltar when Rose appeared dressed as a man that the only
hint of disapproval from foreign officials with whom they came in contact
was received. While apparently not disturbed at all by her presence on
board, the Governor was certainly not impressed with her appearance, and
from then on Rose de Freycinet abandoned her male disguise
and dressed in the fashion recorded in some detail in her letters and,
for instance, in Aragos painting below (Dumore, 1969:67).
Arago was also quite a humorist, for when his depiction of the official
landing at Dili is examined very closely, he shows a less dignified view
of it all and, to the delight of the realists amongst us all, an officer
upended in the bows of the Uranie longboat. Herein lies the ever-present
gulf between reality and the recorded event, and we are indebted to Arago
and Rose de Freycinet for its presentation!
Arago: Courtesy the National Library of Australia
This attribute, the exuberant almost uninhibited nature of Aragos
art and writings, and Rose de Freycinets frank musings on people,
places, events, on Louis understandable ill-health and her reflections
on her own reactions, and on occasion, even the appropriateness of her
own attire in respect to local custom, allows us to view both her and
Aragos accounts as important social commentary.
In that respect they represent far more of an anthropological resource
than the more formal accounts of the officers and officials on board LUranie
and on most other exploration ships that preceded it. In that same context
it is also important to note that, unlike his predecessors, de Freycinet
deliberately did not have a large body of civilian scientists with him,
nor did he have such a politically divided ship.
In having, with the notable exceptions of Rose, Arago and the Abbé
(chaplain), a complement consisting of naval personnel, he was thereby
able to maintain discipline and a unity of purpose that was lacking in
the voyages of dEntrecasteaux and Baudin where the complement were
divided as much by social and political discord as from the competing
aspirations of the scientists and the mariners (Dunmore, 1969:65).
Of importance in reflecting on the character assassination of Baudin by
Péron and others, and both Péron and Freycinets failure
to mention him by name in the final account of the Baudin voyage, except
on the occasion of his death (Brown, 2000), is the fact that Freycinet
did not suffer in like manner, despite there being plenty of opportunity
for criticism. Again this is due in part to the make-up of the complement
on the voyage.
From Timor LUranie proceeded as per the Itinerary above, and from
an Australian and possibly an archaeological perspective, their next relevant
port of call was Port Jackson in New South Wales
The Uranie anchored off Timor
LUranie at Port Jackson: concern at French expansionism
On 13 November, they arrived off the coast of New South Wales and a few
days later dropped anchor in Neutral Bay. The changes evident since his
visit in 1802 were a wonder to Freycinet, while the newcomer Arago was
overwhelmed and as a result his comments are positively effusive.
Old friends came on board at Port Jackson and a house was rented ashore
to house the Freycinets and for the scientific equipment. Dunmore recounts
that while the botanists and others went off to become further acquainted
with the hinterland, for the Freycinets the
stay was one long series of social events
local society succumbed
to the charm and vivacity of the commandants ladya very genteel,
Dunmore also records that on the occasion of their visit to his residence
at Parramatta, Governor Macquarie sent a regimental band to serenade the
official party as they travelled up the harbour, such was the import of
their visit. It was not all plain sailing, however, for on the first night
in town they were burgled and lost a lot of linen, clothing and silverware.
Roses account of this event is well worth reproducing at this juncture.
We learnt that during the night our silver, table
linen, our servants clothing and other effects had been stolen from
the ground floor of the house we occupy. You know the purpose of this
colony and what sort of people are to be found here in plenty; you will
therefore not be astonished at this misdeed: might one not say it is roguerys
classic shore. It would be astonishing not to find thieves here as it
would not to meet Parisians in Paris and Englishmen in London
While in Sydney, the Freycinets went to Parramatta and spent two days
at Elizabeth Farm with the Macarthurs of merino sheep fame. Louis de Freycinet
was assured by Mrs Hannibal Macarthur that her brother, Phillip Parker
King, who was then surveying the north-west coast would have liked to
have met him.
King was absent attempting to fill in the gaps in the charts left by his
predecessors, for though peace had come with the defeat of Bonaparte,
there were still many, including Governor Macquarie who harboured concerns
about French expansionist sentiment that was still directed towards the
coast of New Holland. When ordered by London to provide King with a small
ship with which to complete the surveys, Macquarie stated that:
therefore cordially and entirely concur in opinion
as to the expediency
and necessity of using every possible means and precaution to frustrate
the present intentions of the French Government in this instance (Bassett,
King circumnavigated Australia three times between
In the course of one of these voyages he found his bosuns lady had
stowed away and on another occasion was disappointed at not finding the
Vlamingh and Hamelin plates in Shark Bay. He also named the Buccaneer
Archipelago in the north-west in honour of Dampier, such was his effect
on those who followed.
On Sundays Mass was celebrated on board LUranie, the service attended
not only by the French but also by a sizeable number of the Catholic population
of Sydneya predominantly Irish group that Péron expected
to join as sympathisers in his earlier plot to seize the colony (Péron
to Decaen, 20 December 1802. Quoted in Scott, 1914:315-337).
On the eve of their departure, a large quantity of supplies and livestock
was loaded. Included were two of Macarthurs merino rams, with a
view to introducing them to the flocks in France. They joined, as curiosities
and valuable specimens, the eight black swans and a number of emus already
on board. In reflecting Frances developing plans for the south-west
of New Holland, Rose also expressed the hope that would to God the
French had as well-established a penal colony as this one (Quoted
in Bassett, 1962:194).
On leaving port on Christmas morning 1819, a drunken convict was found
in the bilge and handed over to the pilot and although a thorough search
was carried out, ten more escapees were found when they were too far at
sea to return.
French interest in New Holland extinguished
In his detailed analysis of the social, political and strategic context
of the French interests in the Southland, Leslie Marchant states that:
In the period after Freycinets mission, the
French government for the first time made specific plans to colonize western
Australia, in order to realise the long held Bourbon dream of having a
temperate base in the Indian Ocean to match British controlled south Africa
(Marchant, 1998: 209).
Marchant also examines at length French interest in the establishment
of a penal colony in south-western Australia in emulation of those on
the east coast. The return to peace following Waterloo and restoration
of the Bourbon monarchy resulted in the despatch of three French expeditions
to south-west Australia.
The first led by Freycinet in LUranie and subsequently those of
one of his officers, Louis Duperrey in 1822, and then Hyacinthe de Bougainville
in 1824. The sole landing took place during an accidental visit by Dumont
dUrville, who had actually been sent to examine the suitability
of establishing a French colony in New Zealand. He landed at King George
Sound in 1826 just before French interest in a proposed south-west Australian
colony was completely extinguished by British landings at King George
Sound (Albany) in 1826 and at the Swan River (Fremantle) in 1829.
Thus, for a variety of reasons no Restoration Period French
expedition, including de Freycinets, actually landed on the south-west
coast of Australia, as intended and consequently no French penal colony
This is not the place to provide further detail of the voyage or its ramifications,
for as indicated this work is designed purely to provide the basis for
an informed assessment of the importance of the Uranie story to both Australia
and the Falkland Islands and to provide the basis for an informed assessment
of the archaeological remains at the wreck and the camp.
Suffice it to say here that they eventualy arrived at the Falkland Islansds,
where they attempted to reach Bougainvilles abandoned settlement
at Port Louis where they hoped to finish the work and to rest after their
battering in rounding Cape Horn. Louis de Freycinet wrote of ensuing events
as did numerous others. Excerpts from the accounts he, the artist Jacques
Arago and Rose de Freycinet gave are quoted here, and where they provide
insights into the expected archaeological record the relevant section
Louis de Freycinets account:
Excerpts from a translation by Mr R. Sexton).
4 p.m. on 14 February we discerned the entrance of French Bay [Berkeley
.[a] reduction in depth made me give the order to fall way
two points to larboard to deviate away from the coast; but this excessive
care became disastrous for us, and shortly the corvette was brought up
with a pretty strong shock on an underwater rock
by backing all sails
quickly we got ourselves refloated promptly
.water soon entered the
to try to at least fother the leak;
but after much work this measure was found inadequate; from this time
I saw no other hope of escape than to go and cast the corvette ashore
in a suitable place to at least save the crew and the results of the voyage
11 p.m., when in the proximity of Penguin [Hog] Island, we were overtaken
by calm [and decided] to anchor. . .
Despite the efforts of the crew and the working of all our pumps, the
water had already reached the height of the orlop deck
. and I sent
a pinnace under the command of Monsieur Duperrey to sound in the vicinity
and look for a suitable spot to beach the corvette
fear of seeing
the corvette sink persuaded me to slip the cable [i.e. to abandon the
to stand in for the sandy cove
to the south of Penguin
We fell in with the track of the pinnace of Monsieur Duperrey, who having
just reconnoitred the beach in question was in a position to more surely
direct our course. It is therefore at 3 a.m. that the Uranie reached the
inevitable termination of her voyage, at the place we have so properly
named the Anse de la Providence!
As soon as the ship was beached we carried some kedge anchors abreast
her for fear that the surf should shift her away from shore
little by little to starboard to the point where the masts made an angle
of twenty degrees with the vertical. . . We were fortunately then at the
time of high water , spring tides; the water entered to half the breadth
of the gundeck; afterwards only descending to about five pieds [5.3 feet]
below this level at the ebb tide.
At first we worked to lighten the vessel; sent ashore were all the objects
that could be of some use to us, whether immediately or later: the anchors,
and the guns, fitted with buoys were dropped close alongside. We came
to regret acutely that our tier was composed of iron tanks, for we could
never recover a single one of them from the hold
Not only did these
iron tanks give rise to a disastrous encumbrance, they later deprived
us of the resources to place a string of water casks around the sides
of the ship, which might have been a powerful agent for us.
[in trying to turn the vessel onto its other side and thereby expose the
two bower anchors were dropped on the landward side opposite
the foremast and the mainmast; their backing was set up on the shore with
kedge anchors strongly secured with stakes and planks buried in the sand.
the frightful shocks the hull suffered on the ground as a result
of the ocean swell
we expected to see the corvette smashed to pieces
indeed we came to the sad conclusion that complete planks had been detached
from the ships bottom through these repeated jolts
as the impossibility of repairing the Uranie had been proven, I set to
work decking the longboat with the intention of sending it to Montevideo
fetch the help we needed
(Freycinet, 1826, Book One, Itinerary: 37-43).
In his Voyage autour du Monde: Historique II (1829) Freycinet provides
details that also assist in making predictions about the archaeological
remains, in explaining what is found, or in planning future work at the
site. For example he refers to utilising the ships royal pumps
and chain pumps together
and attempting to put the ship
square to the shore but coming to rest a little crosswise.
In contradiction of his earlier statements, when he said he says that
the tide was rising as they stood in to the beach, he stated
in this account that the ship struck at low water.
In respect of predictions about what might have been abandoned in the
wrecking, he states that the valuable merino sheep from New Holland
and other stock that had survived the voyage were landed though they lost
several cases of specimens that were in the hold.
it was essential to
place in safety immediately the journals and other expedition papers
we generally saved all our work in physical science, astronomy, hydrography,
anthropology, and linguistics as well as all our journals and notes on
Freycinet also records that:
tents were pitched for our small number of sick, then for the crew, the
petty officers, the midshipmen, and the officers; a particular one was
also reserved for me, and it was there that all our papers were brought
together as well as the astronomical and physical science instruments
etc. The one destined to contain our gunpowder was placed in a separate
quarter; two likewise were raised to receive the spirits and sea provisions
that we had saved from the wreck
James Weddells account
The Antarctic explorer James Weddell records that he was in the Falkland
Islands in the brig Jane at the time and that Captain Orne of the American
ship cunningly prevented news of the disaster getting to him
in order to avoid there being competition in securing recompense for taking
the French home. Weddell met the Freycinets and dined with them, providing
numerous additional insights, some of which have been mentioned earlier.
He also produced a chart of Berkeley Sound which shows LUranie,
much as it was abandoned by the French ( See the contemporary Spanish
view below). This was obtained from the French archives by
Rose de Freycinets and Jacques Aragos accounts
Rose de Freycinets journal as translated by Rivière and Bassett
is important in respect to the clues it provides both in respect to the
break-up of LUranie and to the remains at the camp. Jacques Arago
also provides two items of useful information in his letters and these
are interspersed with the Freycinet account. Clues gleaned from his book
first the ship was lying on the sand; by degrees she was forced upon the
rocks, and, notwithstanding the assurances which had been given to me
to the contrary, she fell over on the starboard side, and my cabin was
immersed in water
.The collection of shells which I had gathered
at every place where we stopped; the different arms of almost every nation
on earth; rare birds and curious reptiles; my linen; my books; ten portfolios
of sketches and finished drawings; allall were engulphed
It became necessary to take proper measures for landing the few provisions
which had been saved. Muskets and ammunition were the principal objects
of our solicitude.
18 February 1820
we are still on board, as Louis does not wish
to abandon the ship before the most essential items have been removed
from it. We see enormous waves lifting the ship and dropping it with great
force. Each time this happens, we feel that the Uranie is going to spilt
20 February 1820
.waves are still lifting the corvette
. the longboat has been taken ashore; a tent has been
pitched for the carpenters and another for the blacksmiths. Our camp looks
like a small village; there is a tent for Louis, one for the equipment
and the records where we will also take our meals, one for the staff,
one for the midshipmen and one for the volunteers. Three other tents have
been pitched, for the hospital, the sailors barracks and the masters
respectively. There are also small tents for the cooks and the supplies.
At some distance from the camp is the powder magazine where arms and ammunition
are kept under lock and key. The crew are still busy salvaging anything
they can from the ship.
Maurin: Courtesy the National Library of Australia
Three horses have been killed
to-day, at a short distance from the camp, and the pieces are already
placed in store; and as no one can go on board the corvette, which is
gradually filling with sand, rolled in with great violence by the high
Louis goes aboard each day to supervise the salvage operations
swell is very heavy and the sea continues to lash the coast with such
a fury that boats moored in a small bay have been driven onto the shore
( See the Duperrey chart in Figure 35)
High tides have prevented any salvage operations in the Uranie,
as the top of the battery is permanently underwater.
we have resolved to send the hunters to set up camp three
leagues from here...four hunters and 11 men left at 1p.m to carry the
necessary equipment to the new camp. [This camp is expected to have been
substantial given the large number of horses and foals together with some
oxen and pigs that Rose de Freycinet records were butchered there].
11 March...The new moon has brought back the high tide, and the men have
seized the opportunity to go on board today.
. The low tide made it possible for a large number of times
to be salvaged from our poor Uranie. The search party managed to reach
a hold containing biscuits and removed a large number
..sack [of flour] was salvaged and
fell into the hands
of the cook during the construction of his oven..
The only sound
that disturbs me, and will torment me for a long time to come, is the
noise of the waves crashing against the rocks on the shore, close to our
Today many other items have been salvaged
the Lieutenant noticing
a large piece of wood at the bottom of the sea, almost directly under
the corvette, dredged it and recognised it as a plank from the Uranie.
It contained a gash at least 7 feet long. The plank comes from the section
of the ship which struck the rock, and the rolling of the sea has loosened
my husband decided to take a walk to the ship-yard; we found
the chaloupe very advanced [it was being decked] and ready to be launched
in two or three days
the crew salvaged
a barrel of pitch.
They also removed a box containing 66 cheeses in good condition..
The crew are busy tidying up the rigging and various items
salvaged from the Uranie. Louis
.presses on with the building of
his observatory and intends to set up the equipment tomorrow
The fine weather of the last two days, which made it possible
for the crew to board the Uranie, has not kept up and nothing could be
salvaged, even though high tides arrived with the full moon. The recent
bad weather has heeled the Uranie over much more, and the battery is now
permanently submerged. We have no choice but to abandon the rest of the
goods left on board.
dropped anchor. The American informed us that he was
flying the flag of rebels in whose service he was and that the purpose
of his voyage was to transport cannons to Valparaiso.
The limited shelter which our tents provide in such a cold
and wet climate is very trying..
we have received some medicine, which we had not been able
to salvage from the Uranie.
pellion: Courtesy the National Library of Australia
The Sloop [a schooner belonging to the whaler [General Knox]
showed M. Dubaut six spots where ships had been wrecked recently
and the captain told Louis that there were perhaps 50 wrecks in this area.
7 April.. I continue to oversee the packing of my crates
books, maps etc of the expedition need to be packed, in addition to our
Today I have numbered the twenty-second box and
I still have about another ten to do..
8 April 1820.. The captain of the General Knox [Orne]
assistance to the captain of the Mercury [Galvin] by taking on board some
of his guns, with the intention of throwing them overboard at sea. This
work is already well advanced and will allow us at last to send our baggage
on board. Today Louis received a letter from the captain of the whaler
who has heard that we planned to burn the remains of the Uranie.
He asked for permission to remove everything that might be useful to him
beforehand. But Louis does not wish to burn anything nor allow anything
to be taken, not knowing whether the Government will send a rescue party
to salvage all those objects, many of which, such as anchors, cannons,
masts, etc, are very valuable. He is going to reply that unless he wishes
to pay for it, the captain has no right to take away this material. I
believe that he has no intention of purchasing anything whatsoever and
his conscience will be lax enough for him to return after our departure
and brazenly take what has been refused him.
24 April 1820
The weather is foul; the tempestuous gales make us
fear for the safety of several boats out at sea
M. Lamarche went
on board our poor wrecked vessel to remove various small items and found
that everything was smashed or damaged and that several things had been
stolen, including a beautiful mirror which used to stand in the poop-deck.
He had no doubt that the culprit was Captain Orne who, believing that
no-one would go back to the Uranie, had taken what he wanted. M. Lamarche
headed straight for our old camp, where he knew he would find the captain,
to accuse him of the theft, hoping at least to recover the mirror.
Orne [of the General Knox] was lost for words but assured us that his
sailors had gone on board the Uranie without his consent, and that he
believed the mirror was in the sloop and he would send it to the Mercury
the following morning.
25 April 1820
Our captain has raised more difficulties concerning
some topmasts which M. Lamarche had brought on board and placed on the
deck. He arrived in a huff to tell Louis that the weight was excessive
and that this endangered his ship. After some discussion regarding the
fact that the ship was overloaded, it was agreed to jettison half of the
goods at sea.
Tonight the Scottish captain [Weddell] came to visit Louis who offered
him his rigged rowboat; as we cannot take it with us
to be very grateful and told us that, out of greed, Captain Orne had concealed
the tragedy which had befallen the Uranie
I have heard that he asked
what my name was and has called this small sloop The Rose.
Visits to the site
Mr David Eynons
Uranie wreck report
In his earlier role as a travelling teacher in the Islands,
Mr David Eynon of Port Stanley had become interested in the many wrecks
there and he compiled his own database of wrecks and conducted numerous
dives, often in home-made wetsuits. These dives including one that resulted
in the location of the wreck in what was then known as French or Uranie
In a letter to the author Mr Eynon indicated that LUranie was one
of the first shipwrecks he had located and that the discovery occurred
in 1971 while he was diving with another local diver, Ken Halliday.
Mr Eynons report of finding timbers on the seabed about 200 metres
from the shore along which was strewn large amount of timber appears below.
It was kindly provided to the Museum team soon after meeting with him
in March 2001.
David Eynons 1972 diary entry
Saturday 20 December, 1972:
Jack, Ken myself leave for Long Island
gear out and wet suits onIn the water at 1850. takes 10 mins to
locate wreckage of URANIEremains of keel remaining, copper fastened
also some iron work
. coldsun out taking photosout of
water at 1945.
. rub ourselves quickly to gain circulation.
Pitch tent wet suits out dryinglovely. Cold but calm evening
hoping for a good day tomorrow.
Sunday 31st Dec
in the water again at 0930clearer than the day beforeespecially
with the sun up. This time find the wreck straight awaywe think
a considerable amount is under the sand. Use Ectochrome (high speed)find
a few other sections of the Uranie near the keel sect[ion] various artefacts
as shown in the diagrams the rod shaped object made of copper found to
the west of the keel. The circular section attached to a piece of wood
and because of this we were unable to detach it.
Photograph. Find square slabnot sure what its made off. Barnacle
growth photographed. Also find what is probably a sheavefound in
blockscopper or brass. 3 rungs on ittoo embedded to prise
off. Lovely now, sun overheadsnorkelling fine. Finish film.
Out of the water at 10.30
take down gear-tent
make our way
along beach to dig out piece of wreckage which could have something to
do with capstanfine3 hawse pipes one with lead wrapped around
it. Leave at 1330.
Mr Eynon was also part of a committee formed in the Falkland Islands to
facilitate a youth training expedition under the Operation Raleigh
banner to the Uranie in the summer of 1991/2. It is understood that retired
Associate Professor Leslie Marchant, a Western Australian and author of
the seminal work France Australe, referred to in the historical analyses
above, and retired Lt Colonel Blashford-Snell were also involved in the
project. The Operation Raleigh search and survey did not eventuate and
that the committee was subsequently disbanded.
Uranie Bay was also visited by the author M. Philippe Godard, a French
citizen and adventurer residing in Perth, Western Australia. As part of
his research into the activities of the French explorers on the Western
Australian coast, in 1998 he chartered Mr Eynon to take him to the wreck
by boat from Stanley. Though the land camp was visited and a brief photographic
record was made, they were not able to locate the wreck itself.
When M. Godard and
the author met in 1998 in connection with his location of relics from
the 1772 annexation of Western Australia for France (McCarthy, 1998),
it was agreed to join forces and Mr Godard provided the Museum with both
a record of his visit and his preliminary research notes.
In March 2001 the
WA Maritime Museum team joined with Falkland Island residents and service
personnel to inspect the Uranie sites
The Maritime Museums fieldwork
When contacted by the Museum team on the advice of both the Receiver of
Wreck, Mr Robert King and by Mr John Smith, the Museum Curator in the
Falklands, Mr Eynon again agreed to act as guide to the Museum team, to
take them to the site, and to assist it with the hire of boats and equipment.
Expressions of support had also been received from the Falklands Island
Sub Aqua Club (FISAC), a service-based dive club then being led by Flt
Lt Paul Carrier, an RAF officer keen to have the club become involved
in bona fide shipwreck survey in the islands. He offered to assist with
the provision of divers and with a large Rigid Inflatable Boat (RIB) for
use as a platform from which to operate.
After extensive planning
and preparation, and after receiving all the necessary letters of permission
and support (e.g. from the Falklands Islands Museum and National Trust)
including approval to camp at Long Island and approval from the Receiver
of Wreck in the Falklands to conduct a strictly non-disturbance
search and inspection of the site (King to McCarthy, 3 May 2000),
sponsors were sought and the Western Australian Maritime Museums
team arrived at Port Stanley on Tuesday 6 March 2001 and spent the rest
of the day settling in.
read the Day Book