Map of Kupang Bay on the Indonesian Island Timor. Showing French discoveries prepared by Louis Freycinet during his voyage under Captain Thomas Baudin in 1800-1803. Freycinet and Peron's accounts of the French cartographic expedition to Australia 1800-1804, which was preparing the way for French colonisation.
Freycinet's mapping of Australia was conducted during his time in Australia as a member of the Baudin expedition. In October 1800, Nicolas Baudin commenced an expedition to the south seas to complete the French survey of the Australian coastline, and make scientific observations. The two ships, Le Geographe and Le Naturaliste, arrived near Cape Leeuwin in May 1801. By early April 1802 Baudin in Le Geographe was in South Australian waters. He sailed westward, meeting Flinders at Encounter Bay, and continuing to Golfe de la Mauvaise [Gulf St Vincent] and Golfe de la Melomanie [Spencer Gulf], giving French names to many locations already named by Flinders.
After wintering at Port Jackson, Baudin returned to the southern coast for a more detailed survey, and in January 1803 circumnavigated Ile Borda [Kangaroo Island]. While Baudin anchored at Nepean Bay, Freycinet and the geographer Boullanger explored the two gulfs.. By the end of February Le Geographe and Casuarina rendezvoused at King George Sound, and then explored the west and northwest coasts of 'New Holland', before heading home via Timor.
Baudin died in 1803 on the homeward voyage, so publication of the account and charts of his voyage was undertaken by Francois Peron, the expedition's naturalist. The first volume of Voyage de decouvertes aux Terres Australes and Volume I of Atlas, which included plates, was released in 1807. French place names were recorded for 'Terre Napoleon' west of Wilson's Promontory. As Peron died in 1810, cartographer Louis de Freycinet continued to edit the voyage's account, and in 1811 he published the second part of Atlas, which featured the charts of the expedition, again recording French place names on 'Terre Napoleon.'
The French expedition's charts were published in 1811 - three years before Flinders work. Freycinet's Carte General de la Nouvelle Hollande was therefore the first chart of Australia, bringing together the results of English and French surveys. The French charts are generally acknowledged as beautiful with their elaborate title cartouches with flora and fauna.
Louis de Freycinet joined the Baudin expedition as a junior lieutenant. His duties on the expedition were as a cartographer-surveyor. While the French expedition was in Sydney from June-November 1802, Baudin acquired the Casuarina, and placed Freycinet in command. Freycinet surveyed the the southern Australian coast and contiguous regions. While charting the South Australian gulfs, Freycinet missed his rendezvous with Baudin in Le Geographe, but joined him in King George Sound. They then sailed along the Western Australian coast together, before going to Timor and then Mauritius.
After returning to France, Freycinet worked on the charts and when the atlas was published in 1811 the entire unknown coast from Wilson's Promontory to the Head of the Bight was shown as Terre Napoleon, with French place names on all the prominent features. Following Péron's early death, Freycinet completed the official account of the expedition.
View a interesting documentary about this expedition on youtube in the following link