Elaine Forrestal

The Uranie in Guam

The port of Toulon, France, where the Uranie departed in 1817 on its voyage around the world

I’m always excited to see a new translation of a story that is close to my heart. In this case it’s the story of Rose de Freycinet, who stowed away on her husband’s ship, the Uranie, in 1817. Dr J. Paul Gaimard was the surgeon on board and saved Rose’s life when she was poisoned by eating an unripe olive in the islands north of Australia. Like Rose, Dr Gaimard kep[t a very detailed account of the Uranie’s voyage around the world from 1817 to 1820. Unlike Rose his notebooks have never been translated into English.

However, my friend John Milsom from Cambridge, UK, has been working away at translating  

sections of these fascinating documents. Until recently the wealth of knowledge contained in the ten Gaimard notebooks has been accessible only to French speakers, in spite of the originals being held in the State Library of Western Australia. But because there are celebrations to mark the 200th anniversary of the visit of the Uranie to Guam this year (2019) John has decided to publish, in eBook format, an English translation of Dr Gaimard’s notebooks which describe this visit. The Uranie arrived in Guam at the end of a particularly trying stint of five months in the Pacific Ocean without making landfall. Everyone on board was exhausted. More than one third of the crewmen were ill and Rose had declared that she was heartily sick of this constant sailing in the name of science. ‘I confess that I can’t get excited about it,’ she wrote to her best friend in France. When the ship finally reached Guam she wrote, ‘The Lord be praised!’

John Milsom’s writing is easy to read. He sticks closely to the original notebooks while carefully selecting the most informative, humorous and engaging anecdotes to tell the remarkable story of this epic voyage that became an important part of our Australian history. Download The Urnaie in Guam, by John Milsom.