The Archaeological and Anthropological Society of Victoria is a group that promotes the study of archaeology, anthropology, ethno-archaeology and ethno-history in both Australia and further abroad. Lectures, from a range of talented presenters, are held every third Thursday of the month at 6:30pm at the The Kathleen Syme Library & Community Centre – 251 Faraday St, Carlton.

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 Next Lecture – Thursday 19th of October 2017

The Final Fate of the La Pérouse Expedition: Wrecked in Northern Australia?

Presented by Dr Garrick Hitchcock,
School of Culture, History and Language; Australian National University

The final fate of the French expedition led by Jean-François de Galaup, Comte de La Pérouse, has been a source of intrigue and fascination ever since the frigates L’Astrolabe and La Boussole sailed out of Australia’s Botany Bay on 10 March 1788, vanishing, it seemed, into the vastness of the Pacific Ocean. Forty years later it was discovered that both ships had been dashed on the fringing reef of Vanikoro, in the Santa Cruz Group, Solomon Islands, during a violent storm. According to Vanikoro oral history, after approximately six months the survivors departed the island in a two-masted vessel constructed from wreckage of L’Astrolabe and timber hewn from the forest. They were never seen again. This paper reports the rediscovery of a newspaper article and letter, which point to the possibility that the La Pérouse expedition ended finally in northern Australia.

Dr Garrick Hitchcock is a Melbourne-based anthropologist specialising in New Guinea and Torres Strait. He is Director, Arafura Consulting and Honorary Senior Lecturer in the School of Culture, History and Language at The Australian National University. An article by Dr Hitchcock, exploring the final fate of the La Pérouse expedition, has been published in The Journal of Pacific History.



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