The French Australian Review – No 68 Australian Winter 2020


IRENE ROGERS, ‘A Gift for France’: the Australian Bluebird nurses of the Great War

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 called the Bluebirds because of their distinctive uniforms. 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, making them unique. Whilst some of their achievements have been acknowledged, little is known about the connections they made with French people, culture and institutions. This paper explores those relationships through the evidence they left behind in journals, diaries and letters and provides a humanised view of their experiences.

Keywords: History of nursing WW1, Australian Bluebird nurses, Australian Red Cross nurses WW1, Microhistory and nursing, Humanitarian nursing.

HANNAH STEEL, Dr Helen Sexton’s Hôpital Australien de Paris, July–December 1915

Dr Helen Sexton, a highly skilled surgeon from Melbourne, along with five other Australian women, all volunteers, established and ran the  ‘Hôpital Australien de Paris’. During its six-months tenure Dr Sexton and her team developed close personal relationships with the French doctors at the hospital and with the French soldiers they cared for. Although three of the women received French medals, there was little acknowledgement from Australian authorities and Dr Sexton and her team were not recognised for their service on Australian War Memorials.

Keywords: Dr Helen Sexton, Australian women doctors in WW1, Hôpital Australien de Paris, Australian Hospital in Paris


COLIN NETTELBECK, French-Australian Dictionary of Biography
This note describes the French-Australian Dictionary of Biography (FADB), an initiative of the Research Committee of the Institute for the Study of French-Australian Relations. It is an on-line resource and can be found at It describes how biography was an early strand in the ISFAR journal with scholarly articles on those individuals who have made important contributions to relations between France and Australia. The FADB is modelled on the Australian Dictionary of Biography. Entries provide essential biographical information and are normally 600 to 1000 words in length.

Keywords: French-Australian Dictionary of Biography, biography, French-Australian relations.

PETER BROWN, Jacqueline Dwyer (1925–2020): A Tribute

Peter Brown’s tribute to Jacqueline Dwyer celebrates the life of this inspiring woman whose personal and family connections with France as well as her work as an historian earned her high esteem amongst the French-Australian community. She was the granddaughter of Georges Playoust who came to Australian in the late 19th century and established a very successful wool-buying business, supplying the textile mills back in France. Jacqueline decided, some 60 years after she had graduated from university to enrol in a PhD. She had already published Flanders in Australia, the story of her family and their involvement in the wool business in Australia.

Peter Brown was her PhD supervisor at the Australian National University and became a close friend as well as colleague. This tribute is as much about the woman as it is about the historian.

Keywords: Georges Playoust, French wool merchants in Australia; WWI, French Lives in Australia.

JOHN PRESLEY, French-Australian Encounters Number 4

John Presley, who was named by his parents Jean-Pierre Presle when he was born in Melbourne, recounts his exploration of his French ‘heritage’ for the first time when he spent six months in France at the age of twelve. His father was French, and his mother Australian. The marriage did not last and John was brought up by his mother and grandmother. At the age of 12 his maternal grandfather took him back to France to meet his relations there and to connect with his French heritage.

Keywords: Claude Presle, Peter Richardson, Smacka’s Restaurant, Balzac restaurant, Mirka Mora, Bandol, Lisieux, garlic growing.

PATRICIA CLANCY, Speech at the Book Launch of Stan Scott’s Chis: The Life and Work of Alan Rowland Chisholm (1888–1981)

Patricia Clancy was the guest speaker at the launch of the long-awaited biography of A. R. Chisholm in November 2019. The launch was held at the Baillieu Library, University of Melbourne. Stan Scott was Chisholm’s colleague and disciple at the University of Melbourne from the mid-1950s until his retirement in 1984. Thanks the University of Melbourne Archive the biography was preserved after Scott’s death and subsequently edited by Wallace Kirsop, Adjunct Professor at Monash University and an Honorary Fellow of the Baillieu Library. The article is a transcript of Dr Clancy’s speech.

Keywords: A.R. Chisholm, Stan Scott, Wallace Kirsop, Patricia Clancy, the Baillieu Library, The University of Melbourne French Department, World War 1, French Symbolists, Mallarmé, the ‘Melbourne School’ of literary criticism.

KERRY MULLAN, Book Review: Robert Macklin, Castaway: The extraordinary survival story of Narcisse Pelletier, a young French cabin boy shipwrecked on Cape York in 1858

This book joins two others previously written about Narcisse Pelletier and the seventeen years he spent with the Night Island (Uutaalanganu) people in Far North Queensland, after being shipwrecked as a fourteen year-old cabin boy. The author has combined meticulous research with evocative and imaginative descriptions, creating a strong sense of place and culture as well as a ‘ripping yarn’. This is the final book in the author’s Australian History Quartet and the author alternates the story of Narcisse with the recounting of the corruption and brutality of the Queensland Frontier Wars.

Keywords: Narcisse Pelletier, Robert Macklin, Night Island (Uutaalanganu) people, frontier wars, Queensland, Saint-Nazaire, colonialism.

CHANTAL CROZET, Book Review: Christine Mathieu, Voyages Syntastiques: A Comparative-narrative Method for Teaching French Grammar to English Speakers

This book draws on the author’s extensive experience as both a learner and teacher of foreign languages.  The author advocates for the use of a comparative-narrative approach to the teaching and learning of French in Australian compulsory schools. The author laments the shortcomings of the Natural Method based on her own experience of teaching languages, recognising the need to teach grammar explicitly and from a comparative perspective. The review identifies both theories and practices about which she would have welcomed discussion. The reviewer highlights that the book’s main strength lies in the author’s rich experience of classroom practice and this is particularly relevant in the second part of the book which maps the essentials of French grammar based on her comparative-narrative approach.

Keywords: Christine Mathieu, language teaching, classroom practice, Communicative Language Teaching (CLT), Intercultural Language Teaching (ILT), Second Language Acquisition (SLA).

JANE GILMOUR, Book Review: Jayne Tuttle, Paris or Die: a Memoir

This book recounts the adventure of the author’s two-years in Paris, while she was studying at the Le Coq International Theatre School. It is a lively story—of friendships, falling in love with a French man, of life as a student in Paris, of her love of being in Paris. But it is also a reflection on cultural dislocation, on loss, on passion. The writing style is vivid and the book is both funny and also very moving. After ten years moving back and forth between Paris and Australia, the author and her (Australian) husband have now settled in Victoria, where they run a bookshop.  The author continues to work as a copywriter for French clients.

Keywords: Jayne Tuttle, Le Coq International Theatre School, the Centre des Recollets, cultural differences, Paris.

ALEXIS BERGANTZ, Book Note: François Vantomme ed. & Bernard Le Boursicot, Le Courrier Australien, 1892–1945: Creating the French-Australian Connection since 1892

This is the first volume of a two-part bilingual collector’s edition that offers a historical window onto the French-Australian connection from 1892 to 1945. Le Courrier Australien is the oldest foreign language newspaper in Australia. This is a beautiful coffee-table book, richly illustrated with reprints of past issues and photographs of the period. It is a compendium of historical documents that are a testament to the strength and complexity of the relationship between France and Australia over those years. While the reviewer suggests that the volume could have benefitted from a deeper engagement with existing historical scholarship, that would have helped readers interpret the documents and ponder their significance, he concludes that this is an ambitious and important publication that is both entertaining and stimulating, highlighting the role of the Courrier as a key institution binding the histories of France and Australia.

Keywords: Le Courrier Australien, François Vantomme, Bernard le Boursicot, Emeritus Professor Ivan Barko.

ELAINE LEWIS, French-Australian Bibliographical Notes

ELIZABETH RECHNIEWSKI & ALEXIS BERGANTZ, Call for Papers: ISFAR 35th Anniversary 101 Symposium, 8–9 April, 2021

Explorations – No 52 Jun 2012

IVAN BARKO, Foreword

NICOLE STARBUCK, The Colonial Field – Science, Sydney and the Baudin Expedition (1802)

A scholarly examination of the scientific achievements of the Baudin expedition during its long stay in Port Jackson in 1802.

Keywords: scientific research, natural history specimens and observations, Port Jackson, François Péron, Nicholas Baudin, Leschenault, a colonial field

COLIN NETTELBECK, Twentieth Century French Literature in Australian Universities – Teaching and Research

An examination of the changes that have occurred in modern languages departments in universities and the resulting decline in the study of contemporary French literature.

Keywords: French Studies, twentieth century French literature, Australian Research Council, post-literary era, linguistic proficiency cf literary culture, academic journals, PhD research topics

RICHARD GUNTER, Studying French at the University of Melbourne (1945–1948)

Reminiscences of a former student of the French Department ta the University of Melbourne between 1945 and 1948.

Keywords: A.R. Chisholm, the French Club, Alliance Française, plays and play readings

EDWARD DUYKER, Une Tasmanie Française
The text of a talk on the French explorers in Tasmania and light-hearted speculation on what might have happened had the French settled in Tasmania.

Keywords: Marion Dufresne, Van Diemen’s Land, D’Entrecasteaux Channel, Dumont d’Urville, Nicholas Baudin, Governor King

BRIAN NELSON, The Australian Journal of French Studies: Looking Forward

A note about the agreement between The Australian Journal of French Studies and the University of Liverpool.

Keywords: The Australian Journal of French Studies, Monash University, University of Liverpool, internationalisation, technological progress

ELAINE LEWIS, The Valéry Collection for the State Library of Victoria

A note about the acquisition of a collection of books previously owned by the poet and thinker Paul Valéry and purchased by the Library from the estate of the late Judith Robinson-Valéry, the Australian widow of Valéry’s son Claude.

Keywords: State Library of Victoria, Paul Valéry, Judith Robinson-Valéry

Book Reviews and Note

Georges-Goulven Le Cam, L’Australie au-delà du rêve, reviewed by Stephen Alomes

Ian Coller, Arab France: Islam and the Making of Modern Europe, 1798–1831, reviewed by Stephen Alomes

Richard Travers, The Tennis Courts of Lyon: Les Jeux de Paume de Lyon, note by Elaine Lewis

ELAINE LEWIS, French-Australian Bibliographical Notes

Explorations – No 12 Jun 1992


C.W. NETTELBECK, Interview with J.G. Cornell, 17 October 1984

J.G.Cornell (b. 1904) is interviewed by Colin Nettelbeck and remembers Alliance Française personalities such as Louise Hansen Dyer, Marguerite Cockerton, Edouard Gay and many others, especially those who participated in theatrical productions. He speaks also of his memories of the teaching of French in Australia, in particular at Adelaide and Melbourne universities where he played a leading role and of his work with the Free French movement (Mouvement de la France Combattante).

Keywords: J.G. Cornell, Alliance Française of Melbourne, Louise Hansen Dyer, theatrical productions, Margaret Cockerton, Ferdinand Maurice-Carton, French Department, Melbourne University, G.G. Nicholson, A.R. Chisholm, Nazar Karagheusian, Colette Redin


Serge Duigou, L’Australie oubliée de Saint-Allouarn, reviewed by Edward Duyker

Lurline Stuart, A Very Busy Smith. An Annotated Checklist of the Works of James Smith Nineteenth-Century Melbourne Journalist and Critic, reviewed by Wallace Kirsop

Explorations No 3 – Jul 1986


ROBERT TRUMBLE, Vincent d’Indy – musicien français – an account of a significant French/Australian link

This article sketches the career of composer Vincent d’Indy, a pupil of César Franck, and his undeserved eclipse since his death in 1931. The Australian connection was first established by Bernard Heinze, later Sir Bernard, when, at the end of the first World War, he enrolled in Vincent d’Indy’s Schola Cantorum in Paris, and it was nurtured by Louise Dyer, the founder of Éditions l’Oiseau-Lyre. The author describes his own efforts to promote Vincent d’Indy’s music and memory, and his association with Guy de Lioncourt, d’Indy’s nephew and successor at Schola Cantorum.

Keywords: Vincent d’Indy, César Franck, Sir Bernard Heinze, Louise, Dyer, Schola Cantorum, Guy de Lioncourt

DIANNE REILLY, Melbourne through French Eyes: Antoine Fauchery

The author describes Fauchery’s early life in Paris, his vocation as a writer and friendships with other writers and celebrities, and then his first period in Victoria from 1852-1856. It draws on his account of his time in Australia, Lettres d’un mineur en Australie, which was published in serial form in a Paris newspaper in 1857. It refers also to his unsuccessful commercial venture, the establishment of a Café Estaminet Français in Melbourne.

Keywords: Antoine Fauchery, 1850s gold rush, Ballarat, Nadar, Banville, Baudelaire, A.R. Chisholm, Eureka Stockade

JACQUES H. POLLET DE SAINT-FERJEUX, Paul Merruau’s Les convicts en Australie (Paris, Hachette, 1853)

This “fictional travel book” written for the Bibliothèque des Chemins de fer by an author who never visited Australia alternates between philosophical reflections on punishment and second-hand descriptions of the country. The author of the article claims that, despite these contradictions and flaws, Merruau’s talent as a journalist, his ability to evoke an atmosphere and the quality of his mind make this book worth reading.

Keywords: convicts, Sydney, travel writing, Paul Merruau, Les convicts en Australie

MILES LEWIS, The French Disconnection

In this detailed study of French influences in pre-World War 1 Australian architecture, the author distinguishes between stylistic features of French origin and building techniques and materials originating in France. Examples of both are given.

Keywords: pise de terre, Marseilles tiles, reinforced concrete, mansard roof, wallpapers, Viollet-le-Duc

CAROL SANDERS, France in Australia and the Pacific

A brief presentation of an Australian National University project aimed at developing teaching and more specifically reading comprehension materials focussed on France in the Pacific and in Australia.

Keywords: Australian National University, production of language-teaching units, France in Australia and the Pacific

COLIN NETTELBECK, In and out tune: an Improvisation

This is the text of a talk with musical illustrations delivered at the colloquium on the “France –Victoria Connection” held in 1985. The author tells the story of his discovery of France and French culture, and, more broadly, of the world and of ideas, through French songs. The written version of these light-hearted and ironic reminiscences requires readers to be familiar with the songs cited.

B. LEDUN, Closing Remarks

Explorations No 2 – Dec 1985


JIM DAVIDSON, The idea of France in Victoria

In this wide-ranging essay, the author surveys not only Melbourne society’s enthusiasm for things French but also the occasional emergence of anti-French feelings generated by the survival of traditional British hostility to France as well as the existence of tensions between the Australian colonies and France in the Pacific.

Keywords: Louise Dyer, Editions de l’Oiseau-Lyre, J.A. Andrews, A.R. Chisholm, Victorian francophilia

KERRY MURPHY, Léon Caron: his Role in the Musical Life of 19th Century Melbourne

The career of 21-year old French violinist Léon Caron was cut short by the Commune in 1871, when he fled to London. After a few years in America he decided to migrate to Australia. From 1876 until his death in 1905 he worked as a violinist, a conductor, a musical director and a composer, mainly in Melbourne and in Sydney.

Keywords: Léon Caron, Victoria Cantata, 1880, opening of first Parliament of the Commonwealth of Australia, Melbourne Exhibition Building

COLIN THORNTON-SMITH, French Perceptions of the Colony of Victoria – Facts, Fiction and Euphoria

The author has identified over thirty French books on Australia, mostly published in the second half of the nineteenth century. He discusses the difficulty of establishing the genre to which each book belongs, as the borderlines between personal reminiscences or memoirs, fictionalised autobiography and pure fiction are difficult to draw.

Keywords: travel literature, reminiscences, personal accounts, fictionalised autobiography, fiction, nineteenth-century

DIANNE REILLY, Libraries, Archives and Research: a Perspective from the La Trobe Library

An overview of the holdings, and more specifically the French-related holdings, of the La Trobe Library (established in 1965 within the State Library of Victoria for its Australiana and Pacific material). The survey covers not only books but also serials, manuscripts and pictorial material, highlighting some of the more remarkable items held by the Library and emphasising its hope to attract personal papers and family archives, including those of members of migrant communities.

Keywords: La Trobe Library, Count Lionel de Chabrillan, Napoléon III

J.F. HUESTON, Melbourne – French Plastic Surgical Connections

The author describes the early rise of his awareness of French medical science through hearing of conditions named after surgeons such as Dupuytren. His own interest in hand surgery and his admiration for Dupuytren led him to meeting French surgeons and engaging in both personal and scientific exchanges with them. The article identifies the development of international meetings and exchanges.

Keywords: Dupuytren, hand surgery, International Congress of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, Association of French Plastic Surgeons

RON BURNETT, Early Australian Film and France: an Intimate Connection

In this essay on the Australian cinema industry’s French connections the author highlights the role of film in the construction of young nation-states’ image of themselves. Recognizing the overwhelming presence of American cinema in contemporary Australia, he argues that Australia was better off than other countries, in part because of the influence of French cinema in the early stages of the history of the Australian film industry.

Keywords: Marius Sestier, Melbourne Cup 1896, Pathé, Gaumont, film production in Australia, film market