The Maps and Coastal Profiles of the Baudin Expedition
One of the principal objectives of the Baudin expedition was to chart sections of the Australian coast that were either unknown or only poorly mapped. A large number of detailed maps were thus produced by Baudin’s geographers, Charles-Pierre Boullanger and Pierre Faure, in collaboration with various officers, Joseph Ransonnet, François-Michel Ronsard and, in particular, the brothers Louis and Henri Freycinet.
Most notably, the many maps were the basis on which Louis Freycinet compiled the Atlas of the official account of the voyage, published in 1811. In this Atlas is to be found the first complete map of Australia. The map drawn by Matthew Flinders was published three years later, in 1814.
The maps posted here range from preliminary rough sketches to detailed hand-coloured maps prepared under the supervision of Captain Nicolas Baudin and cross-referenced with Baudin’s sea journal.
In the course of the voyage, the maps were also modified and added to as some sites were revisited and details corrected. Significant changes are also to be found in the naming of topographical features. Many of the names first attributed by Baudin, who died during the return journey of the expedition to France, were altered subsequently by Louis Freycinet and François Péron. In particular, the name Terre Napoléon was added to part of the South Australian coast and this name appeared in the 1811 Atlas but was corrected in the second edition in acknowledgement that certain parts of that coast were first discovered by the English.
Some of the coastal profiles, namely those representing sections of the coast of Western Australia, were incorporated into Baudin’s fair copy of his journal (published in 2000 by Jacqueline Bonnemains under the title: Mon voyage aux Terres Australes. Journal personnel du commandant Baudin). This document, still with its coastal profiles, is held in the French National Archives.
Some coastal profiles are also to be found in the Lesueur Collection of the Museum of Natural History in Le Havre, which has undertaken an ambitious project to digitise all of the drawings in its collection. These will progressively be uploaded onto the Museum’s web site at the link.
With the gracious permission of the French National Archives, we have posted on this website a large selection of the images of maps held in the Département des Cartes et Plans and the French National Archives.
A number of maps and coastal profiles are also featured on the web sites of the following institutions:
Comments or suggestions regarding the maps and coastal profiles are welcome. They should be addressed to: firstname.lastname@example.org