August 2011

Encounters

Shane Maloney and Chris Grosz

Captain Arthur Phillip & Jean-François de Galaup, Comte de La Pérouse

Words: Shane Maloney | Illustration: Chris Grosz

On 24 January 1788 Jean-François de Galaup, Comte de La Pérouse, explorer and navigator, beheld a sight as startling as any he had witnessed since sailing from France in August 1785. It was an English fleet at anchor in Botany Bay, “of which we could distinguish the colours and pendants”.

Under orders from Louis XVI, La Pérouse had crisscrossed the Pacific from Maui to Alaska, made landfall at Easter Island and mapped the coast of California. After Samoans killed 12 of his crew, he steered his ships La Boussole and L’Astrolabe for New Holland. There, he could tend the wounded and make repairs. By happenstance, he arrived just five days after Captain Arthur Phillip and his convoy of convicts.

For 30 years Phillip had fought England’s traditional enemy on land and sea, overtly and covertly. He spent 1785 on ‘private affairs’ in France, spying on ports and naval installations. Aware of La Pérouse’s expedition, he may even have witnessed its departure. When strange sails were sighted off Botany Bay, he sent the HMS Supply to confirm his suspicions. Realising the French would immediately see there was no established settlement to support Britain’s claims to New South Wales, he had promptly removed himself and his 11 ships to Port Jackson, an infinitely better harbour.

“Europeans are all fellow-countrymen at such a distance from home,” wrote La Pérouse, but his impatience to enter the bay was thwarted by countervailing winds and tides. It was not until the morning of the 26th that he finally dropped anchor.

As honour required, officers were sent to extend Phillip’s compliments to the French and offer any needed assistance. They were received aboard La Pérouse’s flagship with great courtesy and invited to dine. At pains not to let anything slip, they made such a mystery of British intentions that the comte refrained from pursuing the subject. By then, Phillip had pitched camp at Sydney Cove.

The French remained in Botany Bay for six weeks, refitting their ships, building a stockade, planting a garden, socialising with Watkin Tench and fending off scavenging convicts. Phillip, having successfully planted the British flag, maintained polite contact with La Pérouse but never showed his face, or hand, to the Frenchman.

On his way to the guillotine in 1793, Louis XVI asked, “What news of La Pérouse?” Phillip, by then on his way back to England, could have provided none. Observed by lookouts on South Head, La Boussole and L’Astrolabe had sailed into the blue immensity of the Pacific, never to be seen again.

Shane Maloney and Chris Grosz

Shane Maloney is a writer and the author of the award-winning Murray Whelan series of crime novels. His 'Encounters', illustrated by Chris Grosz, have been published in a collection, Australian Encounters.

Chris Grosz is a book illustrator, painter and political cartoonist. He has illustrated newspapers and magazines such as the Age, the Bulletin and Time.

Cover: August 2011

August 2011

From the front page

NSW Police Commissioner Mick Fuller

The prevention state: Part four

In the face of widespread criticism of strip-searches, NSW Police offers a candid defence of preventative policing: You are meant to fear us.

Image of Scott Morrison

A national disaster

On the PM’s catastrophically inept response to Australia’s unprecedented bushfires

Image of Scott Morrison

A Pentecostal PM and climate change

Does a belief in the End Times inform Scott Morrison’s response to the bushfire crisis?

Police NSW festival

The prevention state: Part three

As authorities try to prevent crimes that haven’t happened, legislation is increasingly targeting people for whom it was not intended.


In This Issue

Illustration by Jeff Fisher.

Gourmet gore

Our animal instincts for eating meat

Community and disability activist Rhonda Galbally with members of the Human Rights Committee for Victoria at Parliament House, Melbourne, June 2005. © Eddie Jim/Fairfax Syndication

Two nations

The case for a national disability insurance scheme

Illustration by Jeff Fisher.

Coal’s next alibi

The coal industry’s coal-fed algae plan

'Too Much Luck: The Mining Boom and Australia’s Future', By Paul Cleary,Black Inc., 160pp; $24.95

‘Too Much Luck: The Mining Boom and Australia’s Future’ by Paul Cleary


More in Arts & Letters

Image of Cardi B

Bodak moment: Pop’s decade of superstars

Cardi B delivered the song of the decade as a new league of superstars overcame the significance of bands

Photo of Liam Gallagher

Don’t look back in anger: Liam and Noel Gallagher

As interest in Oasis resurges, talking to the combative brothers recalls their glory years as ‘dirty chancers, stealing riffs instead of Ford Fiestas’

Conversion on the way to Damascus by Caravaggio

Damascene subversion: Christos Tsiolkas’s ‘Damascus’

The literary storyteller’s latest novel wrestles with the mythology of Christianity’s founder, Paul the Apostle

Cover of Peter Pomerantsev’s ‘This Is Not Propaganda’ [detail]

Agents of chaos: Peter Pomerantsev’s ‘This Is Not Propaganda’

The Russian expat journalist wonders if democracy can survive the internet, as social media is used to promote feelings over facts


More in Encounters

Words: Shane Maloney | Illustration: Chris Grosz

Rupert Murdoch & Kamahl

Mark Oliphant & J Robert Oppenheimer

John Monash & King George V

John Howard & Uri Geller


Read on

Image of Scott Morrison

A Pentecostal PM and climate change

Does a belief in the End Times inform Scott Morrison’s response to the bushfire crisis?

Image of Scott Morrison

A national disaster

On the PM’s catastrophically inept response to Australia’s unprecedented bushfires

Image from ‘The Truth’

Hirokazu Kore-eda’s ‘The Truth’

The Palme D’Or winner on working with the iconic Catherine Deneuve in his first film set outside Japan

Image from ‘Portrait of a Lady on Fire’

Four seasons in 11 days: ‘Portrait of a Lady on Fire’

Céline Sciamma’s impeccable study of desire and freedom is a slow burn


×
×