News archive 2016-2020

Vale Jacqueline Dwyer

Updated April 2020.
ISFAR wishes to express its condolences to family and friends of long term ISFAR member and contributor to the French Australian Review, Jacqueline Dwyer, who passed away on 7th April 2020.
Jacqueline Dwyer, a descendant of the pioneering French-Australian wool-buying family, the Playousts, was always interested in the history of French-Australian relations and her family’s role in it. An Arts graduate of the University of Sydney, she took part in numerous cultural activities in this area but her first major contribution was the publication in 1998 of Flanders in Australia — A Personal History of War and Wool. This book, in which she focused on her father’s participation in WW1, immediately became a classic of French-Australian history. However, it was not until 2014-2015 that Jacqueline became involved in the work of ISFAR, the Institute for the Study of French-Australian Relations, and helped ISFAR to extend its activities beyond Victoria. All this happened when she reached the wonderful age of 90, having just completed a Master’s degree at the Australian National University, and contributed several important articles to ISFAR’s journal, Explorations, later re-named The French Australian Review. Jacqueline was also the author of a chapter in French Lives in Australia, a 2015 volume of collected essays sponsored by ISFAR, and of an entry in ISFAR’s French-Australian Dictionary of Biography. These written contributions laid the foundation of warm personal friendships with many members of ISFAR, strengthened by her visits to Melbourne. These included presenting a paper at the Australian Society for French Studies conference in 2014, where, at the conference dinner, Jacqueline was seated next to former French Prime Minister Mr Lionel Jospin, conference keynote speaker and guest of honour, and the talk she gave in the ‘Melbourne Salon’ series in 2017, where the second edition of her book was launched. Late in life this living embodiment of French-Australian bonds became a much loved and admired member of the ISFAR team, and will be greatly missed by them. Her writing will endure to remind us of the French family who played such an important part in the history of French Australian relations.
See also the tributes published in Le Courrier Australien:
Jacqueline Dwyer, a much loved and admired member of the ISFAR team
La communauté franco-australienne est rassemblée pour rendre hommage à Mme Jacqueline Dwyer
Pensée pour Jacqueline Dwyer
Nous honorerons sa mémoire en perpétuant ce devoir de mémoire de cette longue et belle relation franco-australienne

The 2020 annual Ivan Barko Award is announced

The 2020 Ivan Barko Award is awarded to Dr Irene Rogers (Central Queensland University) for her article ‘A Gift for France: the Australian Bluebird Nurses of the Great War’ published in The French Australian Review, number 68, Australian Winter, 2020.

In July 1916, a group of twenty-one Australian trained nurses known as the ‘Bluebirds’ left Australia for the Western Front. They were under contract with The New South Wales Division of the Red Cross Society (ARC) to work for the French Red Cross Society (FRC) or the French military authorities and were called the Bluebirds because of their distinctive uniform. The Bluebirds became the only group of trained and registered nurses sent to France by any Red Cross branch in Australia during the Great War. Whilst some of their achievements have been acknowledged, little is known about the connections they made with French people, culture and institutions. Irene Rogers’ article explores those relationships through the evidence they left behind in journals, diaries and letters and provides a human and personal view of their experiences.

Dr Rogers has worked as a humanitarian nurse in many conflict and post-conflict zones around the world and continues to be a Registered Nurse. As well as other commitments she is now working as a volunteer street nurse with the growing numbers of homeless people on the Sunshine Coast.

The 2019 annual Ivan Barko Award is announced

ISFAR is delighted to announce that on Tuesday 7 April 2020 the 2019 Ivan Barko Award was awarded to Dr Angela Giovanangeli (University of Technology Sydney) for her recent article in the French Australian Review 67, entitled “Communal Luxury and the Universal Republic in the Designs and Pedagogy of Lucien Henry”.
The annual ISFAR Ivan Barko Award is awarded by the Committee on the recommendation of the editors of the French Australian Review to the author of the best article published during the preceding year. Named after Professor Ivan Barko to mark his long and distinguished service to ISFAR, particularly as editor of Explorations and its successor the French Australian Review, this award is intended to stimulate research in all areas of French Australian relations.
This article was based on a talk given by Angela at the Alliance Française in Sydney on 30 May 2019 (see below).

Alliance Francaise talk Attendees

ISFAR Alliance française de Sydney 22 Oct 2019

On Tuesday 22 October ISFAR in Sydney held a very successful event jointly hosted with the Alliance française. This is the fourth event we have co-hosted in the last two years and both the Alliance and the Sydney members of ISFAR are keen to continue this mutually beneficial collaboration.
A packed audience of around 50 people heard a presentation by Emeritus Professor Margaret Sankey on ‘First Contacts: the Australian Aboriginals and the Artwork of the Baudin Expedition’. Comparing the drawings and portraits of Aboriginal people by the artists of James Cook’s and Bruni d’Entrecasteaux’s voyages with those of the artists accompanying the later Baudin expedition (1800-1804), Margaret demonstrated how the earlier artists formed in the Classical Greek aesthetic and imbued with the idea of the “Noble Savage”, projected their preconceptions on to their portrayal of the Aboriginal people while Baudin’s artists strove for accuracy in representation, encouraged by the nascent science of anthropology to measure objectively the variations in mankind.
She drew a fascinating comparison between British and French representations that reflected ideological differences in their approach to Aboriginal peoples: the British were influenced by their colonial enterprise to portray the Aboriginal peoples as inferior and subordinate to the Europeans while the French tended to present images of contact and exchange.
The audience included a number of regular attendees at ISFAR events in Sydney: we were particularly pleased to see Jacqueline Dwyer, 94-year-old author of Flanders in Australia: a Personal History of Wool and War.

Image: Margaret sent this image to go with the article. It is of: Arra-aida, jeune femme de l’ile Bruny, à la terre de Diémen 1824, plate 8 in the Voyage de Découvertes aux Terres Australes (Voyage of Discovery to the Southern Lands) atlas. Arthus Bertrand, Paris, 1824, 2nd edition. Barthélemy ROGER (engraver). Nicolas-Martin PETIT (after) (Also refer NGV)

ISFAR at the Bastille Day French Festival 12-13th July 2019

ISFAR was pleased to once again participate in Melbourne’s annual Bastille Day French Festival, held for the first time at Federation Square. Committee members attended the festival over the two days to meet the public and offer information about ISFAR and other publications.

Left-Right: Elaine Lewis, co-editor French Australian Review; Prof Véronique Duché, Vice President ISFAR; Dr Alexis Bergantz, committee member, ISFAR.

For the first time, ISFAR also held a competition which required entrants to answer the question: What year did La Pérouse first land on Australian soil? (Answer: 1788!). We are delighted to announce that the prize of the beautiful book The Australia of the French Explorers by Noelene Bloomfield and a 1-year membership of ISFAR (including subscription to The French Australian Review) was won by a Year 9 French student (name withheld for privacy reasons). The student is a regular visitor to the Bastille Day French Festival and has also been accepted to participate in her school’s French Language Study Tour in 2020, which will include visiting points of interest in France as well as a homestay and language classes program. Congratulations to our inaugural competition winner!

Book available for purchase here.

See also: Jane Gilmour, sa passion pour la France au service de Bastille Day. Jane Gilmour is president of the Bastille Day French Festival and co-editor of ISFAR’s journal, The French Australian Review.

ISFAR and the Alliance Française in Sydney continue their collaboration on events

Updated Sun 2 June 2019
ISFAR and the Alliance Française in Sydney continue their collaboration on events with a presentation on 30 May 2019 by Dr Angela Giovanangeli (University of Technology Sydney). Chaired by Dr Elizabeth Rechniewski, Dr Giovanangeli gave a fascinating presentation on Lucien Henry, Paris Communard and Australian artist, described by art historians as the most productive and influential artist working in Sydney from 1879 to 1891. More than fifty people were in attendance, including Lucien Henry’s great grandson!

The ISFAR Ivan Barko Award 2018

Updated Sun 2 June 2019
Named after Professor Ivan Barko to mark his long and distinguished service to ISFAR, particularly as editor of its journal Explorations and its successor The French Australian Review, the Award is intended to stimulate research in all areas of French Australian relations. It is awarded by the Committee on the recommendation of the editors of the review to the author of the best article published during the preceding year.

The 2018 ISFAR Ivan Barko Award has been awarded to Elizabeth Rechniewski for her article ‘Voyage of the Pilgrims’, New Hebrides, June 1902: Australia’s First Attempt at Colonisation, which was published in The French Australian Review number 65 Australian Summer 2018-2019, a special issue on New Caledonia and the Pacific.

Elizabeth Rechniewski’s story of the Australian settlers who, accompanied by journalist A. B. (Banjo) Paterson, set out from Sydney for the New Hebrides in June 1902 is a well-written and exciting report of a little-known event which could be seen as Australia’s first attempt at colonisation. The essay was meticulously researched, drawing upon contemporary French and Australian newspapers, including Paterson’s articles for the Herald, and parliamentary debates, to explore the significance of this settlement project in the context of the decades-long dispute between France, Britain and Australia over the future of the New Hebrides, now known as Vanuatu.

Liz Rechniewski received her Award from Kerry Mullan at the ISFAR seminar held at the Alliance Française de Sydney on 30 May 2019. Professor and Mrs Barko were present at the Award.

Elizabeth Rechniewski, Ivan Barko 2019-05-30
Elizabeth Rechniewski, Ivan Barko 2019-05-30

Renowned French archaeologist Gilles Prilaux visits Australia

Updated Sun 2 June 2019
ISFAR is delighted to have been involved with the recent visit to Australia by Gilles Prilaux, a leading French archaeologist of the First World War. For many years, Mr Prilaux has been working in the battlefields of the Western Front. In 2014, Prilaux was tasked with dating the underground city that lies 30 meters below the northern French town of Naours (Somme). Rediscovered in the 19th century, this huge cave complex had become a much-visited tourist attraction. Popularly believed to date from prehistoric times, it turned out in fact to be a 17th century construction. In the course of this research, Gilles Prilaux uncovered something completely unexpected: thousands of names and regimental numbers, scrawled on the limestone walls by World War I soldiers, a considerable majority of them Australian. From that discovery, he conceived a new project, namely to investigate the lives behind the graffitied traces so long hidden in the caverns. What has emerged from his work is not just a wealth of moving and revealing stories, but a new dimension for Australian reflection on this foundational time of our history.

While in Australia, Mr Prilaux visited Canberra and Melbourne to give three fascinating and extremely well attended talks.


ISFAR was proud to be a co-sponsor of the ‘Beyond Villers-Bretonneux’ conference held on Friday, 26th and Saturday, 27th April, at UNSW-ADFA. The conference was organised by eminent military historian Professor Peter Stanley at ACSACS (Australian Centre for the Study of Armed Conflict and Society) in collaboration with the Mission du Centenaire, the French Embassy, the France Australia Centenary Trust, the University of Melbourne French Trust Fund, and ISFAR. The keynote address, ‘France and Australia in History’ was given by Emeritus Professor Colin Nettelbeck, founder and past president of ISFAR. His speech provided fascinating insights into key periods of the France Australia relationship. ISFAR committee members Professor Veronique Duché, Elaine Lewis, and Pauline Georgelin also presented papers.

A highlight of the conference was the presentation by Gilles Prilaux, who explained his work researching the identities of the Australian soldiers who visited the underground caves of Naours during the First World War, and who inscribed their names in the walls. At the conclusion of Mr. Prilaux’s presentation, he met the families of three of these men for the first time.

Link to conference website and full program of talks, together with a video recording of Gilles Prilaux’s presentation

Link to conference photos


In this illustrated lecture Gilles Prilaux brought to life the soldiers behind some of the almost 2000 Australian (many of them Victorian) inscriptions on the walls of the caves beneath Naours. Attendees were treated to a virtual visit of the caves, as well as the unveiling of two paintings by George Petrou of two of the soldiers behind the graffiti. The talk concluded with the presentation of a gift by Mr Prilaux to the Shrine of Remembrance as a symbol of French-Australian friendship and of the presence of the Australian soldiers in the underground city of Naours.

Link to news item with photos from the event in the Bleu Blanc Rouge newsletter of the French Consulate in Melbourne


In this presentation Gilles Prilaux regaled the audience with a fascinating description of the difficulties and dangers of his work in conducting a veritable autopsy of the First World War battlefields, where uncovering traces of mass human death incurs the constant risk of millions of unexploded shells. He also briefly presented some of the “underground archives” left by soldiers of many nationalities whose names and other inscriptions survive in the caves beneath the Somme.


Link to podcast of SBS French Radio interview with Gilles Prilaux on 30 April 2019 “Gilles Prilaux – The Silent Soldiers of Naours”

Link to article in Le Courrier Australien of 8 may 2016 “Gilles Prilaux, à la recherche des vies derrière les graffitis de la Grande Guerre”


Gilles Prilaux completed his studies at the University of Dijon and the University of Artois. He currently works at the Somme Patrimony Centre, and is a project head for the Centre for Conservation and Research at Ribemont-sur-Ancre. Some of his work has been published in book form: L’archéologie de la Grande Guerre (2008) – tr. Great War Archeology (2009), and The Silent Soldiers of Naours: messages from beneath the Somme (2017). A forthcoming work will document the lives of more than 350 soldiers who have left their names in the caves.


Gilles Prilaux’s visit to Australia was initiated by Ms Kus Pandey, Manager of the ACSAS at UNSW-ADFA for the “Beyond Villers-Bretonneux” conference. Mr Prilaux’s visit to Melbourne was organised and supported by the University of Melbourne French Trust Fund, in collaboration with the Honorary French Consulate General in Melbourne, the Institute for the Study of French Australian Relations (ISFAR), and the Shrine of Remembrance.

The French Australia Review Issue 65 published

Updated Sun 31 Mar 2019
The latest issue has been published and posted to members. The abstracts can be viewed in Journals. This also means that all articles in Issue 59 have been archived into the web site and are now freely available in Journals.

The Ivan Barko Award for 2018

Updated Sat 23 Mar 2019
The Ivan Barko Award for 2018 was awarded to Elizabeth Rechniewski for her article in the French Australian Review No 65, entitled ‘Voyage of the Pilgrims’, New Hebrides, June 1902: Australia’s First Attempt at Colonisation’. Congratulations to Elizabeth Rechniewski.

ISFAR President awarded the Chevalier dans l’Ordre des Palmes Académiques

Updated Sat 1 Dec 2018
ISFAR President Dr Kerry Mullan was awarded the Chevalier dans l’Ordre des Palmes Académiques on Mon 26 Nov at the Honorary Consulate General of France in Melbourne by Mme Myriam Boisbouvier-Wylie.
Dr Kerry Mullan Palmes 1 Dr Kerry Mullan Palmes 2

Berthe Mouchette 2018

Updated Sat 1 Dec 2018
ISFAR is proud to continue its sponsorship and support of the Berthe Mouchette Competition. Phoebe Weston-Evans from ISFAR attended the competition awards ceremony on Wed 14 Nov in St Kilda.

Victoria School, Villers-Bretonneux

Updated June 2018
Movie: Do not Forget Australia School Victoria Villers-Bretonneux subtitled
Reference: Film “Do not forget Australia école Victoria Villers-Bretonneux (subtitled)”, Author Ecole Victoria à Villers-Bretonneux

AHA affiliation

Updated Mon 28 May 2018
ISFAR has become an affiliate member of the Australian Historical Association.

ISFAR announces Dr Kerry Mullan as President

Updated Tue 20 Mar 2018
Kerry Mullan thanked Colin Nettelbeck for his leadership of ISFAR for the last seven years and thanked the committee members for their support for her nomination as President at the ISFAR AGM. Kerry gave formal thanks to Colin and the entire committee for their contributions over the past seven years and for paving the way for the 2018 strategies. Thanks to Colin, ISFAR is in a very strong position.

The inaugural Ivan Barko Award

Updated Feb 2018
The Ivan Barko Award for 2017 was awarded to Jill Donohoo for her article in the French Australian Review No 61, entitled ‘NSW Premier William Holman and the ‘inexhaustible interest of French literature and affairs’. Congratulations to Jill Donohoo.

Berthe Mouchette

Updated 26 Nov 2017
ISFAR is a proud sponsor of the 2017 Berthe Mouchette poetry competition organised by the Alliance Française de Melbourne. Vice-President Dr Kerry Mullan attended the ceremony on 15th November and awarded the ISFAR sponsored prizes to the eight winners of the Year 9 poetry recital category.

Awards Ceremony BMC2017 group shot BMC 2017 Presentation

Award of Chevalier dans l’Ordre des Palmes Académiques to Elaine Lewis

Updated 26 June 2017
On 22 June 2017, The Honorary French Consul for Melbourne, Mme Myriam Boisbouvier-Wylie, conferred on Elaine Lewis the award of Chevalier dans l’Ordre des Palmes académiques at a reception at the Consulate-General, attended by some 50 friends, family and colleagues. Mme Boisbouvier-Wylie spoke very warmly about Elaine’s outstanding achievement in establishing the Australian Bookshop in Paris in 1996 and running it for the next few years as a vibrant centre for cultural exchange between France and Australia. She also referred to her work as a translator of French poetry. Professor Colin Nettelbeck, President of ISFAR, spoke of her contribution to the work of ISFAR following her return to Australia in 2001, particularly as co-editor of the journal. He read the following message from Professor Ivan Barko, who was not able to travel from Sydney to attend the event: I have always felt that decorations should first and foremost go to those, who, like Elaine, devote themselves to a cause out of love for what that cause represents for them, as a reward for disinterested pursuits. Elaine’s profile has been one of a passionate cultural mediator. Perhaps the highlight of that career was her ownership of the Australian Bookshop in Paris, a dream come true for her. Elaine didn’t merely sell books but ran a literary salon for French-loving Australians and Australophile French women and French men. On leaving Paris, Elaine transferred her pursuits of cultural mediation to Melbourne, with ISFAR becoming the main (although by no means the sole) beneficiary of that relocation. And, within ISFAR, more specifically Explorations, subsequently the French Australian Review, and in the context of the journal I was the lucky recipient of Elaine’s contribution to our work as co-editors for several happy and harmonious years. ISFAR congratulates Elaine on this highly deserved award.

ISFAR at the Alliance Française Bastille day festival 15th and 16th July 2017

Updated 25 June 2017
ISFAR is pleased to be participating in Melbourne’s annual Bastille Day Festival, organised by the Alliance Française. Copies of the French Australian Review will be available, as well as information on our upcoming activities in conjunction with the Melbourne Salon. ISFAR secretary Pauline Georgelin will give an illustrated lecture on the Sunday afternoon about her PhD research into French-Australian encounters during World War I and French speaking diggers.

Updated 23 June 2017
ISFAR is pleased to be able to report on a collaboration with Monash University’s Translating and Interpreting Studies Program in its School of Languages, Literatures, Cultures and Linguistics. ISFAR was approached by Marc Orlando, the Program Director, to see if we had any translation work suitable as the practicum requirement for Masters Degree students. The work would need to be supervised and reviewed as a student exercise by the person proposing it. ISFAR responded enthusiastically. One student will be working on a translation of an article for No 63 of The French Australian Review. The article is about ethnographic items collected during the Baudin expedition in 1804 and deposited in the Château of Malmaison near Paris, on the expedition’s return to France.
Two former ISFAR Committee members, Dianne Reilly and John Drury, also proposed translation projects for students in the course. One student will be working on the translation of a novel by Marie Lion, whose nom de plume was Noël Aimir. Marie Lion was the sister of Berthe Mouchette and she was an artist and art teacher as well as a writer of colonial stories. She wrote four novels, only one of which has been translated into English. Finally, a third student will translate an article ‘Les Deux Hymens Neuchâtelois du Premier Gouverneur de l’Etat de Victoria‘ about Governor La Trobe’s connections to Neuchâtel in Switzerland, before and after the unexpected death of his wife there and his permanent departure from the colony of Victoria.

Refurbishment of Franco-Australian museum at Villers-Bretonneux

Updated 30 May 2017
ISFAR members Peter Evans and Anne Brassard-Evans have sent us the following:
The official inauguration of the refurbished Franco-Australian Museum in Villers-Bretonneux, France took place on 24 April 2017. Australia’s Minister for Veterans’ Affairs, Dan Tehan re-opened the extensively renovated premises, in company with the Mayor of Villers-Bretonneux, M. Patrick Simon. The ceremony took place on the eve of the Anzac Day Dawn Service that is now held annually at the Australian Memorial in Villers Bretonneux. Mr Tehan said that “the redeveloped museum and exhibition is a credit to the efforts of the Franco-Australian Association and the town to remember and honour the First World War and the contribution made by the Australians at Villers-Bretonneux.”
The Australian Government contributed $2 million to the project, thereby assisting with the reconstruction and refurbishment of part of the Victoria School within which the museum is located. This has allowed the museum to house the Franco-Australian Association’s extensive collection of wartime memorabilia.

Minister for Veterans’ Affairs, Dan Tehan, with the immediate Past-President of the Franco-Australian Association, Mme Anne Brassart-Evans in the assembly hall of the Victoria School after the re-opening of museum.

Updated February 2017
ISFAR publishes Issue 61 of the FAR, now available to members. (Non-members may purchase copies.)
ISFAR is pleased to state that its new logo design will be present on all media soon.

Updated December 2016
The Journal Archive is now completed and available on the ISFAR Journal page, with all archived journals freely available by clicking on the right hand index of the Journal page. The latest ten issues remain available for purchase.


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