Explorations – No 13 Dec 1992


EDWARD DUYKER, The First French in Australia: the Soldiers of the Batavia 1629

The author reconstructs the role that eight French soldiers played in the story of the Batavia’s foundering off the coast of Western Australia and the subsequent mutiny from translations of Francisco Pelsaert’s journals, included in Henrietta Drake-Brockman’s Voyage to Disaster: The Life of Francisco Pelsaert.

Keywords: Batavia, Francisco Pelsaert, Huguenots, mutineers

EDWARD DUYKER, Josselin and Alexandre Le Corre: Early French Voyagers to Van Dieman’s Land and New Holland

The author details the seafaring lives of two Frenchmen, father and son, who both sailed into Australian waters on different expeditions in the second half of the eighteenth century. The article offers insights into the class system that determined rank in the French navy and the extent of French merchant shipping in the Indian Ocean at the time.

Keywords: Josselin Le Corre, Alexandre Le Corre, French navy, French merchant shipping, 18th century, Saint Malo, anti-corsair operations, Isle de France (Mauritius)

COLETTE REDDIN, Apropos of the 1984 Interview with J.G. Cornell

The author, on reading C.W. Nettelbeck’s interview with J.G. Cornell in Explorations no 12 (June 1992), was inspired to write up some of her own reminiscences of the period covered in the interview. These reminiscences are meant to complement Professor Cornell’s memory of people and events, and occasionally to correct inaccurate details or spellings of names. The author and her family were active participants in the cultural and social life of the Melbourne French community between the two wars and after the Second World War.

Keywords: J.G.Cornell, Albertine Gay, Marguerite Cockerton, René Vanderkelen, René Turck, Mr and Mrs William Mortill, Ballets Russes, Professor Belz.

WALLACE KIRSOP, Despair in the Antipodes

This article recounts the life and sad ending of a Mr Charles F. d’Aloustel, a Frenchman who came to Melbourne during the gold rush and subsequently became a teacher. He was charged of inappropriate behaviour towards the female pupils and decided to end his life rather than suffer the ongoing opprobrium.

Keywords: Charles d’Aloustel, French expatriates, suicide, auction of books, Guillaume Billiet, wine merchant, Aristide Dellas, teacher.


Françoise Lionnet and Ronnie Scharfman, Post-Colonial Conditions: Exiles, Migrations, and Nomadism, reviewed by Edward Duyker

Barry York, “Immigration Restriction, 1901-1957”, Studies in Australian Ethnic History, n° 1, 1992, reviewed by Edward Duyker

Anne Salmond, Two Worlds: First Meetings Between Maori and Europeans, 1642-1772, reviewed by Edward Duyker

Philippe Masson & Michel Vergé-Fianceschi, La France et la mer au siècle des grandes découvertes, reviewed by Edward Duyker

Susan Radvansky & Patricia Alsop, eds, Twixt Heather and Wattle. The First Minute Book of the Australian Literature Society, reviewed by Wallace Kirsop

Hélène Richard, Une grande expédition scientifique au temps de la Révolution françalse: le voyage de d’Entrecasteaux à la recherche de Lapérouse, reviewed by Wallace Kirsop

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

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