Shipwreck Databases Western Australian Museum

Boat from the Geographe

In June 1801 a chaloupe or longboat from the Geographe was stranded in the Wonnerup inlet. Post Captain Nicholas Baudin sent a rescue mission the following day which included the master carpenter to affect repairs to the chaloupe. Baudin was concerned about Aboriginal people. While watching the rescue boat arrive on the coast he thought the people he saw talking with those in the rescue boat were a group of Aboriginal people. The Geographe was accompanied by the Naturaliste. A longboat from this ship had tried to salvage equipment left behind with the stranded chaloupe. This caused the disappearance of one of the crew, a seaman called Vasse and it was presumed he drowned. The wreck of this chaloupe has also created a number of legends. Soon after the expedition returned to France, there was a story in French newspapers. It was said that Vasse survived and walked 300 miles and was picked up by an American whaler. A story from George Fletcher Moore was published in the Perth Gazette 5 May 1838. This states that Aboriginals told Moore that Vasse washed up on the beach at Wonnerup and lived with the Aboriginals for some time. In 1841 the story suggested that Vasse was ‘strangled, speared in the ‘right side of the heart’, and that his bones were still near Dunsborough.’ Aborigines from the area have a story about a “lone white man who pined away.” Oldfield also mentions that Aboriginals in the area where Vasse disappeared told him that a white man had lived among them, dying a natural death.

Associated Tribe Wardandi

Contact Evidence Possible

Type of contact Unknown

Year 1801

Nationality French

Location Wonnerup Inlet

Source European