Elaine Forrestal

Mapping the World: Terra Incognita to Australia

The original book in which the first complete map of Australia was published by Louis de Freycinet in 1811

In Canberra an exhibition which draws record crowds is not such an unusual thing. The National Gallery, the National Museum, the National War Memorial, even Parliament House, regularly have exhibitions that attract people from around the world. But this is the first time the National Library of Australia has had such a huge response to an exhibition. ‘Mapping the World: Terra Incognita to Australia’, is absolutely packing them in.

I’m particularly excited about this because there are two maps by Louis Claude de Saulce Freycinet in the exhibition. Louis was the Commander of the Uranie when it made its epic voyage around the world between 1817 and 1820. He was already a famous navigator and had published the first compete map of Australia in Paris in 1811. That was before he met an married Rose. José tells Rose de Freycinet’s fascinating story (and his own) during his voyage with Rose and Louis aboard the Uranie, after he was taken on by Louis in Mauritius. It’s a story full of adventures, of dangers faced and hardships endured and the book will be released on the 1st of April. The mapping exhibition closes on the 10th of March, but the book, To See the World, will continue to tell the story of Louis de Freycinet’s discoveries, his contact with the Malgana Aboriginal people at Shark Bay and the acclaim that he and Rose received in Sydney.

To See the World by Elaine Forrestal, National Library of Australia, Canberra, 2014