Rare 1802 Map of Sydney

I first learnt I loved history enough to want to be an Historian in Sydney. It is a funny city – when you are in it it *is* Australia – it is big enough and mean enough to completely eclipse the rest of the country. So the history I learnt there was very Sydney-centric, very colonial, very convict and very, very interesting. I still love the history of Sydney, but I can see much more now and I have a lot more questions than I did then about what else was going on and who all these people really were. But, I still love a good early, early bit of Sydney history.
This map is very early – 1802 – and very rare. It was made during the Baudin expedition that scared the willies out of the colony (one of many French expeditions that managed to do that!). And it includes a fairly detailed key of buildings and places in the colony. If you go here you can see a larger version and read the translation.
A lister on the AUS-CONVICTS listerv provided some lovely context to this map, namely that the expedition, made up of the ships Geographe and Naturaliste (funnily enough, ships that gave their names to places I’ve recently lived here in Western Australia), arrived at a time when the English and French were still trying to decide if they were going to go to war again. Governor King allowed the ships to stay at Port Jackson despite this as many of the men on board were sick, and helped no doubt by Sir Joseph Banks’ entreaty that they should be allowed to land. The expedition stayed for five months – plenty of time to get the details of a map like this as correct as possible. In one of those wonderfully contradictory moments in history, convicts from the Perseus convict ship, who also arrived at this time, had been building sea walls around a harbour in Portsmouth before they left for the colony in anticipation of this war beginning. Seeing the French flag at the other end of the world would have been some cause for concern!


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