Explorations – No 49 Part I Dec 2010

IVAN BARKO, Foreword

JANA VERHOEVEN, Les deux noms and Petit journal de la fin de ma vie: Céleste de Chabrillan’s mémoires inédits

This former Paris courtesan was the wife of the first French Consul in Melbourne, Count Lionel de Chabrillan. After her husband’s death she became an author, much of her writing having been inspired by her experiences in Australia. The author gives an account of her re-discovery of some of Céleste de Chabrillan’s manuscripts (believed to have been lost) of the latter’s unpublished autobiographical writings. The article also analyses the significance of these memoirs.

Keywords: autobiography, Céleste de Chabrillan, Théâtre de Belleville, female perspective on events in France in the second half of 19th century

DENISE FISHER, Supporting the Free French in New Caledonia: First Steps in Australian Diplomacy

This article addresses the role of Australia in the ralliement of New Caledonia in 1940 to General de Gaulle’s Free French movement. The author, who is a former Australian Consul General in Noumea, argues that these events in the Pacific mark the birth of Australian diplomacy as an autonomous entity. The author demonstrates that the Australian government, mindful of the country’s interests, showed subtlety, flexibility and professionalism in its handling of a complex and fluid situation.

Keywords: Australian diplomacy in the Pacific, Australian perceptions of French in New Caledonia, World War Two, Vichy, Free France Movement, Georges-Marc Pélicier, Bertram C. Ballard, Henri Sautot

KENNETH DUTTON, Barrallier in the Hunter

A scholarly study on French explorer and surveyor Francis Barrallier and his two visits to the Hunter region in the early nineteenth century. The article contains some recently located material discovered by Newcastle researchers.

Keywords: Francis Barrallier, Hunter region, harbour of Newcastle, Coal River Working Party


Rosemary Lancaster, Je suis Australienne: Remarkable Women in France, reviewed by Stephen Alomes

Stephen Dando-Collins, Pasteur’s Gambit: Louis Pasteur, The Australasian rabbit plague and a ten million dollar prize, reviewed by Maurice Blackman

Stephanie Anderson (tr. and ed.), Pelletier: The Forgotten Castaway of Cape York, reviewed by Judith Bishop

Shannon Bennett, Scott Murray & Friends, Shannon Bennett’s Paris: A Personal Guide to the City’s Best, reviewed by Patricia Clancy

ELAINE LEWIS, French-Australian Bibliographical Notes

Explorations – No 46 Jun 2009


PATRICIA CLANCY, Céleste de Chabrillan’s One-Act Comedy, En Australie

This article introduces the translation by Dennis Davison of Céleste de Chabrillan’s play about Melbourne in 1853, En Australie, originally performed and published in Paris in 1862. It recounts the life of Céleste, a former courtesan and wife of the first French Consul to Melbourne, who used her first-hand experience of the Victorian gold-rush of the 1850s to write a novel, Les Voleurs d’or, which later became a successful play on the Parisian stage. Although En Australie is a minor work – it was mainly created to serve as a vehicle for Chabrillan’s vaudeville acting – it represents an interesting contemporary French perspective on gold rush Australia.

Keywords: Céleste de Chabrillan, En Australie, Victorian gold-rush

FIONNUALA BHREATHNACH, Australia in Toulouse: History of a Book Collection

This article records the history of the Australian book collection at the University of Toulouse (Université de Toulouse Le Mirail), the biggest collection of its kind in France. The author, who is the Librarian in charge of the Bibliothèque Études du Monde Anglophone & Sciences du Langage in that university, also provides an insight into the development of Australian studies in French universities.

Keywords: University of Toulouse Le Mirail, Centre du Commonwealth, Victor Dupont, Xavier Pons, Cultures Anglo-Saxonnes (CAS),

ANTHONY MARSHALL, An Australian (or Two) in Paris

Melbourne bookseller Anthony Marshall provides a personal perspective on recent Australian publications dealing with cross-cultural (French-Australian) experiences. The article features both a light-hearted survey of books reflecting the fascination of Australians with things French, and some entertaining anecdotes about his twenty year marriage to a Frenchwoman and his interaction with her family.

Keywords: Australian francophilia, Mary Moody, Sarah Turnbull, John Baxter, Elaine Lewis, bookselling

Explorations No 1 – May 1985


COLIN THORNTON-SMITH, A True Account in which only the Facts are Wrong – Hubert de Castella’s Les Squatters australiens (1861)

A critical account of Hubert de Castella’s book on mid-nineteenth century Victoria and its history, written to correct the negative image of Melbourne presented in Céleste de Chabrillan’s Les Voleurs d’or and other contemporary books

Keywords: Hubert de Castella, Céleste de Chabrillan, mid-19th century Victoria


A brief biographical note on late nineteenth century francophile Melbourne journalist and intellectual James Smith and his wife Eliza, both enthusiastic supporters of French culture. They were founding members and office-bearers of the French Literary Club (1886) and the Alliance Française (1891), and subsequently also of the Dante Society (1896).

Keywords: James Smith, Eliza Smith, French Literary Club, Alliance Française of Melbourne

GENEVIEVE DAVISON, Oscar Comettant visits Brighton

French musician and author Oscar Comettant, a judge at the 1888 Melbourne exhibition, described his experiences in Victoria and his meetings with French residents and visitors in Melbourne in his book Au pays des kangourous et des mines d’or (1890), with special reference to his friendship with Georges Burk and the evenings he spent at the Burks’ home “Bagatelle” in Brighton. The article is followed by the text and the music of “Bagatelle”, a song Comettant composed in memory of these evenings.

Keywords: Oscar Comettant, Melbourne Exhibition 1888, George Burk, “Bagatelle” Lyrics and music, Au pays des kangourous et des mines d’or


Brief biographical note on the short and tragic life of Alice Maes, born in Belgium in 1848, daughter of a Flemish father and an English mother. After working as a governess in Melbourne and Geelong, Alice made her debut as an actress at the Princess Theatre in Melbourne under the stage name of Marie St Denis. After a brief but highly successful and promising career, she encountered personal and financial difficulties and committed suicide at the age of twenty.

Keywords: Alice Maes, Marie St Denis, Princess Theatre

MARGARET DENAT, Antoine Denat – a French Presence in Australia

A delayed obituary by his Australian wife of French academic Antoine Denat, born in Languedoc in France. The article describes Denat’s intellectual interests (philosophy, poetry and literary criticism), the diversity and the wide scope of his contribution to the promotion of French culture in Australia and his academic career in Australian universities (Queensland, New England, Sydney and Melbourne). Antoine Denat died in Melbourne in 1976.

Keywords: Antoine Denat

DENNIS DAVISON, Henri Kowalski: French Musician in Melbourne

An account of the Australian period in the life and career of Paris-born pianist and composer Henri Kowalski (1841-1916). Of Polish and Irish descent, Kowalski studied at the Paris Conservatoire and embarked on an international career as a concert pianist. He came to Australia in 1880 and was actively involved in the musical life of both Melbourne and Sydney for a decade. Known as the “Prince of the Pianoforte”, he became friends with Marcus Clarke and composed music to his lyrics. The article is followed by a useful bibliography of Kowalski-related items.

Keywords: Henri Kowalski, musical life of Sydney and Melbourne, Marcus Clarke

COLETTE REDDIN, A Frenchwoman in Melbourne: her Contribution to the Alliance Française

Reminiscences on the life of Marguerite Cockerton, née Feugnet, together with a lively picture of the history of the Alliance Française of Melbourne between the late twenties and 1960. “Madame Cockerton”, who was trained in Paris as a hairdresser, came to Victoria as a member of the staff of the prominent Chirnside family (Western District, South Yarra and Werribee Park), with her English husband, Walter Cockerton, also engaged by the Chirnsides. Madame Cockerton became Honorary Secretary and later General Secretary of the Alliance Française, and ran the organisation for several decades.

Keywords: Marguerite Cockerton, Alliance Française of Melbourne, Chirnside family

JANE CLARK, Quelques artistes français en Australie and some Australian Artists in France – the Nineteenth Century

An annotated list of French artists who worked in Australia in the nineteenth century and of Australian artists who had French connections or studied and worked in France, mainly in the second half of the nineteenth century.

Keywords: French artists in Australia, Australian artists in France

Additional sections
Issue 1 Cover