Wednesday, January 06, 2016

Happy Vegemite and Banksias

Some of you may not know the term happy vegemite, but it means a very happy  person indeed and vegemite is an Australian savoury bread spread.

I am researching banksias and indeed in past years have made banksia quilts, but I wanted to establish a french connection as I am again on my banksia journey. Specimens of Australian flora were sent back to France after expeditions of exploration in the late 1700's and early 1800's .Many years ago when I stayed at Chateau de Chassy Madame Tison asked me about banksias , if there were any early images of the flower, because of  course the la Perouse Expidition arrived  at Botany bay within a few days of  Captain Phillip's arrival in 1788- that question has stayed in the back of my mind for quite some time!

La Perouse's expedition was published  and there were 42 image plates made to illustrate the book- Imagine my absolute vegemite delight on finding these images today in the digitalised version of the book

What treasure! 
d'Entrecasteaux also travelled to Australia to map the territory and bring back specimens. He died on the journey back  and  the ship was taken  in custody  by the British because  it was amidst the revolution and war. It's precious cargo might have been destroyed- there were many  floral specimens on board - except for the intervention of Sir Joseph Banks after whom of course the banksia is named. And of course Nicolas Baudin mapped  Australia before  Matthew Flinders- which is something I did not learn at school .  Baudin was commissioned by Napoleon to chart and bring back samples but Baudin died on the journey back and when the ship returned to France there were many  floral specimens on board as well as kangaroos and emus. It seems that many of the floral specimens ended up in Josephine's garden in Malmaison as well as the kangaroos and emus and there are two species of Australian tree planted on the island of Saint Helena where Napoleon was exiled, that still survive today . Of course now I am deeply desirous of acquiring this book:
Voyage to Australia and the Pacific, 1791-1793: Bruni d'Entrecasteaux

So now I can map another banksia story!

But wait there is more- there is also a woman in this story of discovery- that of Rose de Freycinet whose letters to her friend and mother of her journey were published well after her death. She dressed as a man in order to accompany her husband on his commissioned journey and  was one of the first women on such a journey of discovery. It is now also on the wish list!

A Woman of Courage: The Journal of Rose de Freycinet on Her Voyage Around ...

as no one seems to have it available.


Anonymous said...

Hi Dijanne,
The book on Rose de Freycinet is available from the Geelong Regional library

Coeur de freesia said...

Regardez ici :
il semblerait que ce soit ce que vous recherchez. Peut-être lors de votre prochaine venue en France ?

Dijanne Cevaal said...

Thanks for that but slack I am off is on Tuesday.

Dijanne Cevaal said...

Thanks for that but slack I am off is on Tuesday.

Mary said...

Very interesting reading! I had heard some of that but not that bit about mapping Australia. How different our lives might have been if the French had claimed Australia that little bit earlier.

Wendy Lugg said...

Hi Dijanne,
here is a link to Abe Books - 4 used copies of the National Library 1996 publication translation of Rose's jouurnals.
We have lots of resources on freycinet here in WA, some online. This education kit
relating to an online exhibition
has heaps of links worth exploring

Dijanne Cevaal said...

Thanks Wendy for that- it will now have to wait until i return to Australia- hope the cheapest one will still be there!