A commemorative walk and talk was held today to celebrate the 190th anniversary of the laying of the foundation stone of the Laperouse Monument.
Local historian and Friends member, Greg Bond, led the enthusiastic group of 14.
The Foundation Stone of the Laperouse Monument was laid on the 6th September, 1825, by Hyacinthe de Bougainville. De Bougainville stopped over in Sydney for 3 months during a circumnavigation of the world. During that time he made observations about the new colony and forged a number of friendships and included amongst those friends was the astronomer Governor Brisbane. It was de Bougainville who commissioned the Laperouse Monument and the Receveur Tomb and the details of this are contained in his diaries, translated by Marc Serge Riviere in The Governor’s Noble Guest,Melbourne University Press, 1999, ISBN 0 522 84852 4.Page 110-113: Friday 26: Went on a pilgrimage to the spot visited by the crew of Mr de La Perouse in 1788 at Botany Bay. La Touane, Boissieu and I left in the company of Captain Piper on some of his horses. Boissieu who was a bad rider, failed to control his mount from the start and was forced to change horses The weather was superb, as we left the main road to Parramatta near Mr Stephen’s house and took the left turn which led to Botany Bay. Less than a mile from the junction, we entered a sandy area covered in scrub, grass trees, and then rode along large peat marshes that from a distance take on the appearance of cheerful meadows on account of a host of wild flowers. Yet, the marshes are very deep and perilous for cattle, which inevitably perish once they are bogged down. These marshes stretch all the way along the coast from Port Jackson to the bay, which owes its name to its treacherous nature.
We reached Cooks River, six miles from Port Jackson; winding its way near the bay, the river is not navigable. We sought a guide at that point to assist us in locating the French Camp, known here s the French Garden, fifteen miles from Sydney. We passed in front of a factory that manufactures hats, woolen cloth (the best type costs fifteen shillings a yard) and rough blankets; Mr Simeon Lord is the owner of the factory. The machines appeared complicated to me; they are driven by a gentle current of water. The factory employs twenty men and eight children and produces about 170 blankets per month that sell for a pound each. There is also a unit that manufactures stockings and employs a single worker; six dozen pairs of stockings are manufactured each month at a piastre each.
After visiting this factory, we entered paddocks, which were under water at the time and extended to the shore. The low tide allowed us to follow the shoreline and explore the northern part of the bay; we never lost sight of the river, which flows through Liverpool, twenty-five miles away, and is navigable. We also sighted a single dwelling, belonging to an old man, that is built a short distance within the southern head of the entrance of Botany Bay (Cape Solander). His is the only house built in this part of New South Wales. On the cape mentioned above, Governor Brisbane has had a monument erected with a plaque commemorating the first landing of the illustrious Cook. However, such is its position that one cannot read the inscription that consequently serves no purpose. Having ridden almost four miles along the beach at a gallop, we entered a wood at a point marked by a cottage with a small garden, and after travelling two miles, we at last reached French Garden, led by our tireless guide. We had the greatest difficulty in keeping up with him, and he ran seven miles in all from Cook’s River to our final destination.
The site chosen by Mr de La Perouse as a construction yard for new boats was located at the tip of the second headland on the starboard side of the entrance to the bay. It is on an exposed plateau that slopes down slightly towards the sea; one could still see the original holes dug for the posts that held up the barricades. These had been erected to offer protection against possible attacks by local Aborigines. At the foot of the cliff, there was a small cove where the sandy beach makes a landing easy. Three hundred yards to the north is located the turret, built in the style of an ancient amphitheatre, that serves as a guardhouse for the detachment. Its duties are to keep watch on this part of the coast; it consists of a corporal and three soldiers. The former led me to the grave of Father Receveur; the spot is marked by an inscription left on a tree by the officers of the corvette the Coquille. The grave consists of a pile of stones, and a cross bears the following inscription:
Near this tree are the remains of Father Receveur. Visited In March 1824.
As soon as I had heard that there were relics of the La Perouse’s stopover in Botany Bay, I had hit upon the idea of erecting a monument to our illustrious and unfortunate compatriot on the very spot from which his last message had been dispatched. I had revealed my plans to Captain Piper on the forward journey, and at once after our arrival, we set about determining the exact location of the proposed monument. La Touane drew a plan of the site without delay, and I entrusted him with the task of providing a sketch of the mausoleum; I intended asking the governor for official permission to erect it. In my view, such a tribute to the memory of our dear departed French comrades long overdue.
It was on 10 March 1788 that the frigates the Boussole and the Astrolabe Continue reading
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