France Australe: A study of French explorations and attempts to found a penal colony and strategic base in south western Australia 1503-1826 by Leslie R. Marchant. Hardcover book published by Artlook Books 1982, 384 pages with black white illustrations and maps, as well as a few colour illustrations.
Professor Marchant spent over 25 years thoroughly investigating an untold story which he believes is worth telling. This book will revolutionize the teaching of the history of the exploration and foundation of Australia. Based on previously unused naval and other archival records in France, tells for the first time the fascinating history of French explorations and plans to colonize western Australia in the pre-British period from 1503 until 1826.
The French president Francois Hollande was recently here in Australia chatting it up with other world leaders at the G20 summit in Brisbane. This was the first time in over 25 years that a French president had visited Australia.* I guess he didn't have much choice in the matter as he was expected, whether he liked it or not, to attend this gaggle of world leaders. The fact that it was in Australia meant that the 25 year embargo/snub/whywouldievervisitthatshithole was finally broken... and surprise surprise, he even managed to hang around for a few extra days... and even more surprising he seemed to enjoy our warm friendly Aussie hospitality. Fortunately there was no shirt fronting of Francois, so he may come back.
There was a time when the French were a lot more interested in Australia than they have been in the last 25 years. Matthew Flinders (the first bloke to sail around the edges) encountered the French sniffing around prime real estate in 1802. Apparently it was a friendly encounter yet a little bit of a suprise. According to this book, our recently re embraced friends, the French, were keen on bits of Western Australia for quite a while before, during and after Matthews voyage. They sent a number of ships and expeditions down under to check it all out, yet managed to not call any bits of Australia “la maison”. And then, in 1826, the Brits annexed a large chunk of unannexed Australia (now Western Australia) which saw the French loose interest and look elsewhere for a home away from home. It makes you wonder if they had of been successful if we would have eventually become as bi-lingual as they are in Canadia.
*Radiation levels are now safe (?).