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The early years of Sydney were witnessed by seven expeditions of French exploration between 1788 and 1831. These expeditions spent, in total, over a year in the new town of Sydney meeting most of its leading citizens and visiting its expanding environs.

The French explorers, including Lapérouse, Freycinet and Bougainville, were received and entertained by Sydney’s dignitaries, including governors King, Macquarie, Brisbane and Darling and the high-profile Macarthur family. Their revealing accounts present intimate details of the everyday lives at all levels of society, from the governors’ parties to ‘the sickening spectacle’ (as Bougainville saw it) of convicts on the treadmills in Sydney’s penitentiary.

The French Explorers and Sydney contains previously unpublished translations of European experiences in the early colonial period. The journals and records of these French explorers and scientists offer surprising cultural insights and engaging outsiders’ perspectives on the new colony and its residents. A fresh and fascinating perspective of Sydney and early colonial life.

The French Explorers & Sydney by Colin Dyer

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