Southern Courier, 4th September 2007, Tim Martin
There’s a little spot in Botany Bay that holds a treasure chest of Australia’s early history. It’s unknown to many residents of south-east Sydney, but impassioned locals are bringing the Laperouse Museum back into the fold.
Described by the Friends of the Laperouse Museum (FOTLM) as “a hall of artefacts and history”, the little building encircled by Anzac Parade details the journey of the French navigator Jean-Francois de Galaup, Comte de La Perouse and how he came to land in Botany Bay, only days after the First Fleet arrived in 1788.
“Its importance as a history of our colonial beginnings cannot be under estimated,” Peter Orlovich, president of the FOTLM committee, said.
“We want to refresh the displays and the exhibits and are hoping to borrow some relics and artefacts from other museums in France to help promote this special place.”
He said it was sad that the museum had been allowed to decline and that public interest in the place had waned in recent years.
“This place is symbolic because it gives us an opportunity to demonstrate the long association between France and Australia. Even now the French Consul General is still actively involved in the museum,” he said.
The FOTLM hopes to start bringing school groups through the museum so that local children can appreciate the historical value their area holds in regards to colonial Australia.
“This little museum and the French history surrounding it is one of the most interesting things about our area,” local MP Michael Daley said.
“We had two of the greatest navigators of all time sail into our area. Most places around the world would kill to be able to say that. The museum is a little treasure and mums and dads should bring the family out and have a look.”
Secretary of the FOTLM Greg Bond said the museum was unique.
“It’s the only museum in the world that represents the chronology of La Perouse and his journey,” he said. “And it reflects yesterday’s history today because in 1788, this spot was regarded as being the meeting place between three cultures.
“It was at this place that the encounter between the Aborigines, the French and the British first happened, and that encounter is reflected in the La Perouse society still to the very present,” Mr Bond said.