Final fate of the Laperouse Expedition

The final fate of the La Pérouse expedition is a mystery. In 1788 the frigates ’Astrolabe and La Boussole were wrecked on Vanikoro in the Solomon Islands. According to Vanikoro oral history, the survivors then left, approximately six months later, in a boat which they had built. They were never seen again. This paper reports the rediscovery of an 1818 Indian newspaper article, detailing the rescue in Torres Strait of a lascar named Shaik Jumaul, a castaway for four years on Murray Island (Mer). While on Mer he saw weapons and instruments that seemed not of English manufacture. The Murray Islanders informed him that these came from the crew of a vessel wrecked nearby some three decades earlier. No European ship is known to have been lost in Torres Strait in that period. Shaik Jumaul’s account points to the possibility that the La Pérouse expedition ended finally in northern Australia.

Garrick Hitchcock:  Manuscript XXXII The Final Fate of the La Perouse Expedition The 1818 Account of Shaik Jumaul A Lascar Castaway in Torres Strait